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Global liveability report reveals which cities offer the best quality of life

Neil Ashman, Senior Location Ratings Analyst - ECA International

Clean air, good facilities and low crime rate among the benefits that make Copenhagen and Bern the most liveable cities in the world for European expats. Copenhagen and Bern have scooped the joint top spot as the most liveable cities in the world, according to the latest annual Location Ratings Report from global mobility expert, ECA International (ECA).

However, UK cities remain fairly low on the list as attractive options for European expats, with the exception of Edinburgh, which retains its position in joint 19th place with Stockholm, Sweden.

Cities around the world are evaluated annually by ECA on a variety of liveability factors including availability of health services; housing and utilities; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; climate; personal safety; political tensions and air quality.

Neil Ashman, Senior Location Ratings Analyst at ECA International, said: “Pollution, crime rate and terrorism threats are among the factors that affect the liveability of major UK cities such as London, Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow. Europeans relocating for work or looking to move abroad can expect a better quality of life in many locations in Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany or Norway; countries that dominate the top 20 of our rankings.”

Canadian cities score better than many European counterparts

Elsewhere, the Canadian cities of Toronto and Vancouver are the highest ranked non-European locations on the list, beating major European capitals such as Madrid, Berlin and even London for liveability.

“Despite the distance, Canadian cities have always provided a high quality of life for European expats, with consistently high scores putting its key cities above many of its European counterparts. Harry and Meghan follow in the footsteps of millions of European expats to Canadian cities, namely Toronto and Vancouver, which are relatively easy for European expatriates to adapt to. Choosing Canada to bring up their new family means they will experience lower crime levels, good public facilities, and better air quality,” said Ashman.

Northern Europe leads the way

Four cities in the Netherlands feature in the top 20 most liveable in the world. Eindhoven, a design and technology hub, climbed one place this year, securing its position in the top five cities. In Switzerland, four major cities also retain their top 20 status.

Ashman said “Northern European cities in places such as Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Switzerland, have consistently scored well for expat liveability. Excellent transport links, a high standard of healthcare and long-term political stability, mean that overseas workers from elsewhere in Europe can adapt to these locations with ease.”

Good news for 900,000 Irish passport applicants

Dublin has kept its position within the top 10 most liveable cities in the world. ECA’s liveability score of the Irish capital will be well received by expats and the record number of Irish passport applicants last year.

“Dublin has become a popular hub for the expats from around the world thanks to having the benefits of a large city while also managing to avoid the negative aspects. For example, crime rates and air quality are much better in the Irish capital than many other major European locations, while culture and infrastructure scores remain strengths too” said Ashman.

Top 20 most liveable locations for European expatriates

Location 2020 ranking 2019 ranking 2018 ranking
Copenhagen, Denmark 1 1 1
Bern, Switzerland 1 1 1
The Hague, Netherlands 3 3 3
Geneva, Switzerland 3 3 4
Stavanger, Norway 5 5 4
Eindhoven, Netherlands 5 6 6
Amsterdam, Netherlands 7 6 6
Basel, Switzerland 7 6 6
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 9 9 9
Gothenburg, Sweden 9 9 9
Dublin, Irish Republic 9 9 11
Aarhus, Denmark 12 12 11
Rotterdam, Netherlands 12 12 11
Zurich, Switzerland 14 14 14
Bonn, Germany 15 15 15
Munich, Germany 15 15 15
Vienna, Austria 17 17 17
Hamburg, Germany 17 17 17
Stockholm, Sweden 19 19 19
Edinburgh, United Kingdom 19 19 19

ECA’s Location Ratings system objectively evaluates a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 490 locations worldwide. The system helps companies establish appropriate allowances to compensate employees for the adjustment required when going on international assignment. The impact of some of the factors assessed will vary according to the home location of the assignee.

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