Singapore remains the most liveable location in the world


Singapore remains the most liveable location in the world for expatriates from East Asia with an improved liveability score in the past year, as revealed by the latest Location Ratings survey published by global mobility expert, ECA International.

Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in Singapore sooner than in other major locations in Asia, which had a positive effect on Singapore’s liveability score and its attractiveness as a desirable location for expatriates.

“A location’s position in our rankings is influenced by what happens in that location as well as other locations we research,” advised Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International. “Singapore relaxed social distancing restrictions earlier than other locations which facilitated a return to pre-pandemic norms, allowing the country to retain its top position in our rankings and increasing its lead over other locations in terms of liveability.

Furthermore, the gap in liveability between Singapore and locations such as Hong Kong and Shanghai – both of which maintained or even enhanced Covid-19 related restrictions in 2022 – widened during the year, making it an even more compelling destination versus other locations in the region competing for international talent.” 

ECA's Location Ratings system objectively evaluates a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 500 locations worldwide. Factors assessed include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; natural phenomena; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions; and air quality.

Singapore remains the most liveable location in the world

Asia Highlights

Hong Kong's liveability ranking has fallen 15 places to 92nd this past year. This decline is largely due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions in 2022 and changes in its political environment. In contrast, other Asian locations have seen improvements as restrictions were lifted in the post-pandemic era.

“Hong Kong’s maintenance of its Covid-19 mitigation measures this past year stood in contrast against many of its peers, both regionally and globally,” Quane observed. “Continued quarantine restrictions, the limitation of access to recreational activities and other social distancing measures persisted throughout 2022, which put Hong Kong in a less favourable position compared to other locations. Furthermore, recent legislative council and elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive also signalled changes in its political environment, which contributed to the decline in its liveability score and ranking.” 

“Likewise, cities in mainland China have all fallen in our rankings due exclusively to the impact of China’s zero-Covid strategy that was maintained throughout most of 2022,” explained Quane.

Asean locations generally improved in scores and rankings in the past year, owing to the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions. Locations across Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines saw a climb in their rankings, while Yangon, Myanmar, is the only Asean location which saw a fall in its ranking owing to the continued deterioration of security circumstances in the country.

“Asean locations followed Singapore’s lead and relaxed their Covid-19 restrictions accordingly. In doing so, they improved their positions in our liveability rankings,” said Quane. “Nonetheless, the impact of these improvements remains largely limited as the gap between Singapore and Bangkok – the second-highest location ranked in the Asean region but ranked 115th globally – indicates a wide disparity within the region that must be narrowed before other locations in Asean can offer similar living standards to the Lion City.”

Elsewhere, major cities in the Asia Pacific have seen significant improvements due to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Cities in Australia saw major improvements in their liveability scores, while Auckland, New Zealand, was the biggest riser, climbing up 20 places to become the 4th most liveable location in the world for East Asian expatriates.