Gardens by the Bay and Singapore skyline reflection on blue water at blue hour in Singapore.

These are the best cities for Asians living and working abroad


Southeast Asia's economic epicenter, Singapore, has once again been ranked as the best place in the world for East Asian expatriates living abroad.

Impressive infrastructure, access to amenities, low crime rates and a large international community helped the city-state cinch pole position in this year's edition of the ECA International's global liveability index, extending its 15-year run.

"Singapore has been consistently featured at the top of our liveability rankings for Asian expatriates for well over a decade, and this year is no different," said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.

"These aspects attribute to Singapore's prime spot in the rankings, and the country will most likely continue to hold the top position in the considerable future."

The data firm's annual expat survey measures some 490 locations across a range of liveability factors, including health services, housing, climate and political tensions — as well as personal metrics like "isolation" levels — to rate their accommodativeness for people living and working abroad.

The findings are then further broken down to determine the top cities for expats from East Asia or Europe. Countries with cultural similarities and geographical proximity to an expat's home country is more likely to score highly, for example.

Singapore this year beat out fellow high-scoring cities, Brisbane and Sydney, which ranked in second and third place respectively, after fears of heightened terrorism threats caused Australia to lose marks. Sydney, one of several cities with a shared score, was joined in third place by Japan's Nagoya and Osaka.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, suffered a major drop in the rankings, falling over 50 spots to 93rd place, due to ongoing socio-political tensions which have led to months of protests and served a blow to the city's transportation infrastructure and safety levels.

The report's list of top locations for East Asian expats was this year, as in others, predominately led by cities within Asia-Pacific. However, there were reappearances from some notable northern European cities. Generally, those cities also ranked as the top locations for European expats.

"Cities in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Switzerland have consistently scored well for expatriate liveability. Copenhagen, in particular, is once again the top European destination for East Asian expatriates," said Quane.

The U.S. on the other hand saw mixed fortunes, with New York and San Francisco rising in the ranks, thanks to improvements in their liveability scores, while Boston tumbled.

Quane told CNBC Make It the liveability index should help people understand how easily they might adapt to a new environment when relocating for work. However, he noted that there are also several other personal and financial factors employees should consider before taking the plunge.

"There are many factors that a person should consider when relocating, including family circumstances, the job they are relocating for and corresponding salary, as well as living conditions in the host location and the degree of adaptation required. This assessment only looks at the latter two of these variables," said Quane.

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