SINGAPORE (Mar 20): Singapore has once again bagged the title of Asia’s highest ranked city in terms of quality of living over the past 12 months, based on findings from Mercer’s 20th edition of its Quality of Living survey.

At the 25th place globally, the city state stayed ahead of other premier business centres in Asia such as Tokyo (50th) and Hong Kong (71st) – but remains behind its European peers Vienna, which tops the ranking for the ninth year running, and Zurich at second place.

European cities’ overall high quality of living comes in spite of ongoing economic volatility in the region due to increased regional political instability and uncertainty over issues such as Brexit, notes Mercer in a press release on Tuesday.

The global consulting firm also observes that among its survey findings, cities in emerging markets (EM) also appear to be catching up with top-ranking cities of late, thanks to decades of investing in infrastructure, recreational facilities and housing in order to attract the talent and multinational businesses.

Shenzhen is one such example with its jump of six places to 130 in 2018 from 136 a year ago. The increase is attributed to increased ratings for consumer goods availability and better monitoring on air pollution.

Mercer notes that despite Singapore’s retention of its top place for quality of living in Asia, the city state’s performance on the annual index is however considered stagnant amid the significant changes in rankings as demonstrated by its regional and global peers.

This year, a separate ranking on City Sanitation was also provided as part of the survey to assess cities’ waste removal and sewage infrastructure, levels of infectious disease, air pollution, water availability and quality – all of which are considered by Mercer as important aspects of a city’s attractiveness for both talent and businesses.

Honolulu tops the inaugural City Sanitation ranking, while Singapore pales in comparison at 57th place.  

“While Singapore as one of the most progressive nation states continues to lead the region in terms of ranking, we have seen marked improvement in the rankings of other metropolitan hubs in the region with the continued investments in infrastructure and public services by governments in Asia. We see concerted efforts on the part of governments and institutions in much of the region to improve the quality of living as a way to not only attract the best expatriate talent in the wake of increasing digitization, but also as a way of enhancing trade and investments,” says Mario Ferraro, Mercer’s Global Mobility Practice Leader – Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

“Our first-ever sanitation index also exposes a real need for Asian cities to make critical improvements in this area, with Singapore at 57 and Hong Kong and Shenzhen trailing at 134 and 140 respectively,” he adds.

In Europe, Oslo and Lisbon rose in rankings by six and five places to 25th and 38th places, respectively, while Munich jumped to third position as a result of a concerted effort to attract talent and businesses by continuously investing in high-tech infrastructure and promoting its cultural facilities, says Mercer.  

By contrast, Stockholm fell three places to 23 as a result of the city’s recent terrorist attack, while Seoul fell three places to 179 as a result of ongoing political instability.