2016 Quality of Living Rankings

Western European cities dominate the top of our 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, with Vienna remaining in the No.1 spot. This year, we also examine personal safety, a top issue for multinational companies sending employees abroad, as security concerns increase throughout the world. Luxembourg earns the top spot for personal safety.

2016 Rankings Highlights

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Our Quality of Living Research

Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey assesses quality of living conditions to help multinational companies and other employers fairly compensate employees when placing them on international assignments. Mercer compiles reports for each city, providing an overview of conditions and hardship premium recommendations.

Methodology

Mercer’s Quality of Living Rankings cover 230 prevalent destinations for globally mobile talent and are based on our Quality of Living Survey, which assesses quality of living conditions in over 440 locations to help multinational companies and other employers fairly compensate employees when placing them on international assignments.

Living conditions are analyzed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:

  1. Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).
  2. Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).
  3. Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).
  4. Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).
  5. Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools).
  6. Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).
  7. Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).
  8. Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).
  9. Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).
  10. Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).

The scores attributed to each factor, which are weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, permit objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a quality of living index that compares relative differences between any two locations evaluated. For the indices to be used effectively, Mercer has created a grid that enables users to link the resulting index to a quality of living or hardship allowance amount by recommending a percentage value in relation to the index.

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Learn More about our Methodology

Quality of Living and Personal Safety Around the World

Auckland, Sydney, and Vancouver join European cities among the Top 10 destinations with the highest quality of living, while certain Western European cities, cities in New Zealand, and Singapore are the safest for international employees.

Click on the infographics to view in a larger size.

infographic- Western European cities continue to outperform the rest of the world when in comes to expatriate quality of living, by taking 7 of the top 10 spots.
infographic- Western European cities continue to outperform the rest of the world when in comes to expatriate quality of living, by taking 7 of the top 10 spots.infographic- Western European cities continue to outperform the rest of the world when in comes to expatriate quality of living, by taking 7 of the top 10 spots.
Global Top 10 vs. Bottom 10 Cities
infographic- Taking into account more than 39 factors affecting quality of living, these are the top 5 most desirable cities for international employees in each region.
infographic- Taking into account more than 39 factors affecting quality of living, these are the top 5 most desirable cities for international employees in each region.infographic- Taking into account more than 39 factors affecting quality of living, these are the top 5 most desirable cities for international employees in each region.
Top 5 by Region
infographic- These rankings take into account internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country's relationship with other countries.
infographic- These rankings take into account internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country's relationship with other countries.infographic- These rankings take into account internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country's relationship with other countries.
Personal Safety City Rankings

Additional Resources

Quality of Living Data

Our quality of living data lets you easily set appropriate hardship allowances for international employees in challenging locations.

City Benchmarking Services

Do you work for a city or region? Register for our complimentary webcast in March to learn how to build a quality-of-living profile and create an action plan for your emerging talent hub.

Global Mobility Services

Mercer's products and services provide the data and expertise to help you tackle any global mobility challenge.

Cost of Living Data

All the key elements you need to determine accurate cost-of-living allowances and defend the compensation package to all stakeholders.

Mobility Benchmarking Survey

Get results from this comprehensive survey covering all aspects of international assignment management, with the largest participant base in the market - over 830 global companies.