Vienna still 'best city' for international assignments

Austria’s capital Vienna has retained its number one position on Mercer’s annual Quality of Living survey, as one of the most attractive destinations for expatriates.

Vienna's skyline
For the ninth year in a row, Vienna has topped the list in Mercer’s annual Quality of Living survey of more than 450 cities across the globe.

Where is best for expats?

The report, published on Tuesday, says that while Europe remains one of the most appealing areas for expatriates, increased living standards in emerging cities in many parts of the world are attracting more mobile talent.Mercer’s rankings are based on an analysis of 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories: political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, medical and health considerations, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing and the natural environment.The survey is regarded as one of the world’s most comprehensive and is aimed at enabling multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.

European cities remain competitive despite political climate

In this year’s rankings, Vienna is followed by Zurich in second place with Auckland and Munich in joint third. In fifth place, Vancouver is the highest-ranking city in North America while Singapore, in 25th, and Montevideo (77th) are the highest placed cities in Asia and Latin America respectively.Mercer said, “Despite economic volatility in Europe due to uncertainty around Brexit as well as increased political volatility in the region overall, many of its cities still offer the world’s highest quality of living and continue to remain attractive destinations for expatriates on assignment.”But the report added that cities in emerging markets, although often challenged by economic and political turmoil, were showing signs of catching up with the traditionally top-ranked cities thanks to years of investing in infrastructure, recreational facilities and housing in order to attract talent and multinational businesses.
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Attracting a workforce with the right skills for businesses

Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president of Mercer’s career business, said, “With increasing globalisation and changing demographic of the workforce – attracting and retaining the right talent is set to be one of the key challenges for businesses over the next five years.“An increasingly diverse workforce is both more mobile and digital with highly diverging requirements and aspirations in terms of career, lifestyle and ultimately where and how they want to work. Companies need to consider these factors in their value proposition to both their local and their expatriate employees.” 
2018 quality of living

UK cities topped by London

London, in 41st place among the 231 cities which qualified for rankings in this year’s survey, was the highest ranking UK city for Quality of Living, followed by Edinburgh (46), Birmingham and Glasgow (joint 50th), Aberdeen (58), and Belfast (68).“Cities in the UK continue to rank highly for quality of living, and remain attractive destinations for multinationals and their employees,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Mercer’s global mobility practice leader for the UK and Ireland.“London scores top marks in areas like access to public transport, and the variety and quality of theatres and restaurants, but has lower scores for air pollution and traffic congestion.“We will continue to closely monitor the impact of on-going Brexit negotiations and their effect on workforce and skills availability in the UK, to support multinational companies with their expatriate management programmes.” 

Importance of wellbeing on international assignment

Slagin Parakatil, principal at Mercer and global product owner for its Quality of Living research, said the success of international assignments hinged on the personal and professional wellbeing of the individual expatriate and the welfare of their families.He added, “As well as a significant hinder to a city’s, business and talent attractiveness, poor quality of living can considerably impact on an expatriate’s life style. Younger generations, millennials in particular, often have high expectations in terms of lifestyle, leisure and entertainment opportunities.“Companies sending expatriates abroad need to get the full picture of conditions on the ground in order to compensate their employees appropriately for any decrease in living standards.“Equally those organisations considering opening an office in a new location should make a short, medium and long-term assessment of the city’s infrastructure. Decision makers increasingly acknowledge that globalisation is challenging cities to inform, innovate and compete to attract people and investments – the key to a city’s future.” A full copy of this year’s survey can be found at
Relocate Magazine Winter 2017 front cover
Read more about the future of the UK industry in the Winter issue of our magazine
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