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Most liveable cities in Asia-Pacific

Published: 17/04/2012 - Filed under: News »

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A study by ECA International, a human resources consultancy, concludes that Singapore is the most livable city in both Asia-Pacific and the world. Within Asia-Pacific, the Lion City is followed closely by Kobe and Hong Kong.

A city’s livability is determined by 10 factors: climate and natural disasters, health risks and facilities, air pollution, goods and services, infrastructure, recreation, housing and utilities, education, personal security and, finally, socio-political tensions.

In the region, Singapore scores highly in all those areas and has retained its top spot while Hong Kong has moved up from fifth place in 2011 to third this year, overtaking Tokyo and Yokohama, which are currently tied as number 4. Other cities that have made the study’s top 10 in Asia include Taipei, Macau, George Town (Malaysia), Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.

However, Hong Kong’s rise apparently has little to do with improvements in lifestyle in the city. “Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s elevation in ranking is due to a deterioration in quality of life elsewhere,” said Lee Quane, regional director of ECA International, referring to the devastating tsunami that ruined infrastructure and utilities in Tokyo.

The study states one of the main reasons Hong Kong falls behind Singapore is its high levels of air pollution. In fact, the study has found that air in Hong Kong, consisting a mixture of locally produced pollutants and emissions floating in from China, is almost on a par with cities that have the worst air quality in the world, such as Beijing and New Delhi. “The fact that Hong Kong – a first-world location – shares problems with the developing world is a serious disadvantage,” said Quane.

One area where Hong Kong scores higher than Singapore is the socio-political area, as it is relatively more democratic than Singapore, and citizens are free to protest and the press is comparatively unfettered. Furthermore, while Singapore may offer greater quality of life, it is also more expensive than Hong Kong (see story here). According to another survey by ECA, Singapore is the sixth most expensive city in Asia while Hong Kong is ninth.

Many Middle Eastern and African cities have fallen in rankings because of Arab Spring, which has made the region extremely volatile and unstable. Both Tripoli and Cairo have fallen 24 places, Damascus 29 places and Manama, which was previously the Middle East’s most livable city, has dropped by 16 slots.  

The survey covers 400 cities around the world, of which 49 are located in Asia-Pacific, and analyses a destination’s livability in order to help companies determine whether their employees will need additional “location allowances” when transferring to these cities, to “compensate for the adjustment employees and their families need to make,” explained Quane.



Regional rank

Global rank







Hong Kong















George Town






Kuala Lumpur




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Alisha Haridasani

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bombayteddy - 18/04/2012 08:25

I wonder how Mumbai (Bombay) ranks?

ZacariasAzares - 08/09/2013 16:23

very helpful listing . How is Cuenca, Ecuador ranked ? Thanks !


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