Europe remains 'safest continent' for expats

Ranking 230 cities on their internal stability, crime levels, performance of local law enforcement and the home country's relationship with other countries, the survey put Luxembourg in the top spot, followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich, all of which tied for second place, with Vienna in fifth place.

Baghdad, Damascus, Karachi and Nairobi were among the lowest ranking cities for personal safety in the survey, which is conducted annually to enable employers to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.

The survey stated that despite recent security issues, such as the Paris attacks, European cities continue to offer some of the world's highest quality of living.

"Heightened domestic and global security threats, population displacement resulting from violence, and social unrest in key business centres around the world are all elements adding to the complex challenge facing multinational companies when analysing the safety and health of their expatriate workforces," said Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer's talent business.

"Multinational companies need accurate data and objective methods to determine the cost implications of deteriorating living standards and personal safety issues when compensating expatriates."

In North America, Canadian cities ranked high for personal safety, with Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver sharing 16th place. On the other hand, no US cities made the top 50 while problems surrounding personal safety accounted for the low rankings of several Latin America and Caribbean cities, with Kingston (199), Tegucigalpa (201), and Port-au-Prince (211) having among the lowest rankings in the region.

In South America, Montevideo achieved the highest ranking city for personal safety, though it only made it to 96th place. Caracas, in 214th place, was the lowest.

The top-ranked cities in the USA were Chicago, Houston and Honolulu, all in joint 54th, while bottom of the table were St Louis, Atlanta and Detroit, all placed joint 107th. By comparison, a number of key European cities ranked considerably lower than other EU centres due to either terrorist attacks or social unrest in the past few years: Paris, for example, was in 71st place followed by London (72), Madrid (84) and Athens (124).

"Ensuring that the needs of expatriates and their families are met wherever work takes them is an essential part of talent retention and recruitment strategies for most multinationals," said Slagin Parakatil, responsible for the quality-of-living research at Mercer.

"Managing safety and health issues is of utmost importance, especially for employees who relocate with a family. Our surveys enable companies to take adequate precautions for them.

"Other elements that add to safety costs in the host location are obtaining suitable and well-secured accommodation; having an in-house comprehensive expatriate security programme and providing access to reputable professional evacuation services and medical support firms, and finally, providing security training and guarded office premises."

Among Asian cities, Singapore ranked highest overall in eighth place, followed by five Japanese cities – Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama, all of which were tied for 32nd place. Other Asian cities attracting high levels of expats did not fare so well - Hong Kong (37), Taipei (78), Beijing (97), Seoul (115), New Delhi (142), and Jakarta (172).

Only a handful of cities in Middle East and Africa managed to make the top 100 for personal safety, with Abu Dhabi ranking highest in 23rd place, followed by Muscat (29), Dubai (40), and Port Louis (59). Upcoming host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Doha, ranked 70th for personal safety, while Damascus – scarcely surprisngly – was in 229th place, followed only by Baghdad.




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