Pandemic dampens cities' appeal to expats

The 'liveability' ratings for expatriates of almost three-quarters of cities around the world have fallen over the past year because of limitations on movement and recreation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 70 per cent of the 490 cities and towns surveyed in the annual 'Location Ratings', compiled by global mobility specialists ECA International, were found to be affected. The appeal of a quarter was also found to have suffered because of socio-political tensions arising from Covid-19 lockdowns.."The implementation of strict lockdowns and restrictions on freedom of movement during 2020 was a major contributing factor causing all UK locations to drop in the global liveability ranking for European expats, compared to the likes of Canada, USA and New Zealand," said ECA.The ratings assess the quality of expatriate living conditions based on such factors as climate, health services, housing and utilities, access to leisure facilities, personal safety, political tensions and air quality.The latest survey found that Scandinavian cities were the least impacted by recreation limitations and restrictions on freedom of movement adopted in most other parts of Europe.As a result, six of the top 20 most liveable cities for European expats were in Scandinavia, with Copenhagen retaining the top spot as the most liveable city in the world. Stavanger ousted Bern to take place.Elsewhere in Europe, Rome and Lisbon have fallen by more than 15 places from last year’s rankings, while Paris dropped 18 places and fell out of the top 50 most liveable locations. Dublin, meanwhile, fell out of the top 10 for the first time since 2018 and now occupies 15th spot.Strict pandemic lockdowns in the UK saw London drop to its lowest liveability ranking ever (55th) and, for the first time, New York, in 40th place, ranked higher in the table.Neil Ashman, senior location ratings analyst at ECA International, said: “At the time of publication there were relatively few pandemic-related restrictions in place in New York, unlike London where a new lockdown had just been imposed."During the height of the pandemic in 2020, London was in a state of lockdown for almost 19 weeks between the periods of March to July and November onwards. This resulted in London dropping in the rankings, while many of the US locations, where scores were not as affected, were pushed up the rankings as a result.”Toronto was one of the big jumpers in the table, rising ten places to 17th. “Canadian cities have consistently outperformed many European cities in the scoring of crime levels, and air quality, which is why Toronto has scored so highly in the rankings," said Mr Ashman."However, due to stricter lockdown measures affecting its Recreational score compared to other parts of Canada, Montreal dropped four places.”ECA said that, at the time of publication, New Zealand had no restrictions in place with the result that, although Wellington's and Auckland’s liveability scores had not changed from last year, their ranking rose 19 and 18 places to 25th and 33rd, respectively.ECA International top 20 of most liveable cities for European expats:1. Copenhagen
2. Stavanger
3. Gothenburg
=3. Bern
5. Aarhus
=5. Basel
7. The Hague
8. Luxembourg
=8. Eindhoven
=8. Geneva
11. Amsterdam
12. Zurich
13. Rotterdam
=13. Stockholm
15. Dublin
=15. Oslo
17. Toronto
=17. Helsinki
=17. Bonn
=17. Munich

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles