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Product Solutions

  Highlights from the 2012 Quality-of-Living Rankings

  • European cities continue to dominate the top of the ranking
  • Vienna remains at the top, Baghdad at the bottom
  • Singapore ranks highest for city infrastructure, Port-au-Prince the lowest

Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively, and Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which ranked fifth. Düsseldorf dropped one spot to rank sixth followed by Frankfurt in seventh, Geneva in eighth, Copenhagen in ninth, and Bern and Sydney tied for tenth place.

Globally, the cities with the lowest quality of living are Khartoum, Sudan (217); N’Djamena, Chad (218); Port-au-Prince, Haiti (219); and Bangui, Central African Republic (220). Baghdad, Iraq (221) ranks last.

Mercer conducts this survey annually to help multinational companies and other organizations compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Mercer’s Quality of Living reports provide valuable information and hardship premium recommendations for many cities throughout the world. Mercer’s Quality of Living index list covers 221 cities, ranked against New York as the base city.

This year’s ranking separately identifies the cities with the best infrastructure based on electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transportation, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports. Singapore is at the top of this index, followed by Frankfurt and Munich in second place. Copenhagen (4) and Dusseldorf (5) fill the next two slots, while Hong Kong and London share sixth place. Port-au-Prince (221) ranks at the bottom of the list.

  Read more from the Press Release
  4 December 2012

2012 Rankings Highlights Video

View the highlights of the 2012 rankings and hear Mercer Senior Researcher Slagin Parakatil discuss the 2012 Quality of Living Survey findings
(Video 3:45 min)


Cost-of-Living Information Services

  Quality-of-living reports

Key features and benefits

Based on 39 factors within ten categories, Mercer's Quality of Living Reports contain all the key elements you need to calculate hardship allowances for transfers to over 460 cities worldwide.

"Hardship allowance" refers to premium compensation paid to expatriates who experience – or should expect to experience – a significant deterioration in living conditions in their new host location.

Our reports are based on the Mercer's annual Quality of Living Survey. The survey questionnaire is developed by international Mercer professionals, working closely with major multinational companies and other experts in the field.

  • Tangible values for qualitative perceptions to establish an objective assessment of the quality of living for transfers to over 460 cities worldwide.
  • Carefully selected factors representing the criteria considered most relevant to international executives.
  • A detailed outline of how Mercer establishes quality of living differentials between cities.
  • A City-to-City Index Comparison that summarizes the difference in the quality of living between any two cities.
  • The Quality of Living index for the city and access to a detailed breakdown of the category scores that form the resulting index.
  • Our online Quality-of-Living Calculator that allows you to customize the Quality of Living index to your specific needs.
  • A score report summarizing the Quality of Living differences for each of the 39 factors.
  • Mercer's recommended Quality of Living Allowance Grid that allows you to translate the quality of living index into percentage benefits and define competitive hardship allowances where applicable.

  Find out more and get purchasing info

Events and Training

  Global Mobility Webcasts and Recordings

Mercer regularly runs webcasts on a variety of expatriate management topics. Sign up for upcoming live webcasts and listen to those already recorded.

  Recorded webcasts.
  Check back soon for the 2013 schedule

Cost-of-Living Reports

  Related Products

   Cost-of-Living Information Services

To encourage mobility and to manage your international assignment costs, you need precise information to calculate fair, consistent expatriate compensation packages. Based on over 200 goods and services, our semi-annual surveys are conducted by professional researchers simultaneously in the more than 325 locations that we cover. Carefully chosen vendors reflect only those outlets where your expatriates can buy goods and services of international quality.

  • An international basket of goods and services reflecting realistic spending habits established through years of extensive expatriate research.
  • Distinct cost-of-living (COL) indices for different types of expatriate shoppers.
  • Online Cost-of-Living Index Calculators that allow you to customize the COL index to your specific needs.
  • Reasonable, realistic indices.
  • Full list of stores and sources where prices are collected.
  • Immediate estimation of the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) using our Cost-of-Living Allowance Calculators.
  • Current information, with locations extensively surveyed twice a year by professional researchers.
  • More frequent updates for markets in flux.
  • Special cities surveyed upon request.
  • Methodologies that let you determine competitive purchasing power for all your employees, wherever they come from.

  Find out more and get purchasing info

Knowledge Center

  Mercer Passport®
MercerPassport contains valuable reference information that will help expatriates learn what it's really like to live in another country. It provides the whole family with a clear understanding of how to appreciate and adapt to life in a new location, as well as essential practical guidance about moving abroad and acclimating to a new home.

MercerPassport gives you access to:

  • The world's premier country guides, covering 109 major countries
  • Quality-of-living information covering over 300 cities across the globe
  • The Work Permit portal, providing advice and sourcing work permits for accompanying spouses or partners
  • Mercer's CostAdvisor, a tool that compares the price of everyday items
  • Exclusive news and articles by experts in the field

Get more information at

Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices

  Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices

Transferring employees abroad for short-term, long-term or permanent assignments is more challenging than ever before. Aligning a company's expatriation practices with the best practices in the marketplace is critical to its success.

Mercer's 2012 Worldwide Survey of International Assignment Policies and Practices report offers comprehensive coverage of all areas of expatriate policies and practices. As the longest-running mobility survey on the market, this report provides detailed analysis from over 750 companies on:

  • Compensation approaches
  • Expatriate allowances and benefits, including mobility premiums, cost-of-living adjustments and hardship allowances
  • Housing support
  • Repatriation and localization policies

Whether you participated or not, Mercer can use the unparalleled data from the WIAPP in benchmarking consulting projects, to find gaps in your policy that could be costing you money or valuable competitive advantages.

Visit for details.

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