If you were to move abroad for a longer time, which location would you choose? How would you choose? If your choice would be based on quality of life in the foreign destination, then you would do best in Vienna, Zurich, Auckland, Munich, or Vancouver. These destinations are exactly the ones to suggest based on the latest Mercer Quality of Life survey.
Assessing culture, climate, safety, infrastructure, social life and many more variables, the Mercer professionals arrived at the 2015 global city ranking. In comparison with last year’s ranking, the top destinations remain quite stable, with the German-speaking countries, Oceania, Canada and Scandinavia keeping their leading positions. As the ranking list indicates, the above-mentioned five top destinations are followed by Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen and Sydney. So it seems that Western European cities, Canada and the United States continue to offer quite stable and high standards of living. It also comes as no surprise that the lower part of the rankings is occupied by cities from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Globally, the bottom ten cities are Nouakchott, Conakry, Kinshasa, Brazzaville, Sana’a, N’Djamena, Khartoum, Port au Prince, Bangui, and, ranking 230th, Baghdad.
Apart from ordering global cities according to their quality of life index, the Mercer professionals also recognize emerging cities, which are considered to be developing fast and posing serious competition to the traditionally recognized business capitals in attracting foreign companies and expats. Indeed, these emerging destinations could be of particular interest in terms of global mobility, and particularly new expat destinations.
When I looked into emerging expat destinations in this blog the last time, I already pointed to new opportunities in more surprising destinations, which are beyond the usual heavyweights such as the BRICs. The 2015 Mercer survey seems to support this notion, as their emerging expat cities are fairly unexpected. In fact, the majority of the listed newcomers sounds unfamiliar and requires a more attentive pronunciation of their city names and exploration on the world map.
Out of the European destinations, the Polish city Wroclaw is placed on the 100th rank and is considered an emerging city based on its rapidly developing talent pool and sound infrastructure. In Africa, Durban, ranked 85th, has become a luring global business and expat destination due to positioning itself as the second most important manufacturing center in the country. Moreover, with its busiest container port in Africa, Durban is also an emerging center for shipping. Another newcomer city is Manaus in Brazil (ranked 127th), which, according to Mercer, is attractive due to its free economic zone.
Yet, the majority of upcoming destinations for global business and expats alike seem to be in Asia. According to the HSBC 2014 report, Asia is a destination for adventurous expats, who look for new challenges. Moreover, the HSBC data suggests that Asia is home to the highest earning expats, who are ‘almost three times more likely to earn over $250,000 p.a. than their counterparts in Europe’. According to Mercer, emerging Asian destinations are recognized in India, China, Taiwan and South Korea.
- Indian cities of Pune (145th) and Hyderabad (138th) offer opportunities in manufacturing and information technology.
- The Chinese city Chongqing (142th) is seen as a major automotive manufacturing center and a transportation hub. Xi’an, another city in China, is also rapidly developing its economic and technology sectors. HSBC survey respondents indicate that they value China in general for its growing economy and lower costs of living.
- Taichung (99th) in Taiwan is known for its culture, and provides home to many local and international industries. HSBC survey data on Taiwan reports that Taiwan is performing well in both expat experience and economic dimensions, and it is particularly notable in terms of its lively culture and the ease of integration into it. Moreover, expats appreciate Taiwan’s affordable lifestyle and good healthcare system.
- Finally, expats and global business may want to look into Cheonan (98th). This South Korean city is home to many universities and technological companies.
The emergence of new and unexpected destinations for international business opportunities is very exciting and positive in terms of global mobility. Maybe someday picking a new location for business and expatriation will be as easy as spinning the globe and placing your finger anywhere?