Which are the 5 Best Cities to Live and Work in Abroad?

The 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey has finally been released, and it presents a breakdown of 221 cities in the world and where the best and worst places to live are globally.

The idea behind the survey is to allow employers to compensate their expatriate workforce appropriately depending on where in the world they are relocated to – and the survey compares all other cities from a base that is New York.  The survey is also of use to would-be expats who are contemplating where in the world they should move to live and work overseas.

So, if you would like to find out which are the best cities to live and work in abroad – read on to find out.  We are going to be reviewing the top 10 from the Mercer survey and giving you our own pros and cons for living in each.  In this, the first part of our review of the top 10 we will be looking at the 5 best cities to live and work in in the world.

1)  Vienna – Vienna is a stunning city with a glorious history, it is dominated by beautiful architecture and there are hundreds of sites to see if you visit.  If you want to make your stay in the Austrian capital more permanent however you will appreciate the likes of fabulous infrastructure – from transportation links that are affordable, reliable, expansive and clean to children’s facilities, you might also appreciate the fact that Vienna has an excellent summer climate.  You’re so close to ski runs in the winter, there is great emphasis on family, friends and a decent work/life balance in Austria too.  Crime is relatively low, living standards are relatively high – but on the downside Austrians are harder than Germans to get to know!

You will need to learn German to fully integrate, and the Austrian people (to make a broad generalisation!) whilst accepting do not come across as massively welcoming.  In Vienna however there is a strong expat community, and perhaps you will make your friends from fellow expats.

2)  Zurich – Zurich is one of the wealthiest cities in the world and certainly in Europe.  It is home to many banking and financial institutions and has strong employment – meaning it is a very important expatriate hub too.  The city also benefits from the fact that it has fabulous architecture and is in the heart of Switzerland meaning that it affords residents good access to the ski slopes and lakes as well as the rest of Europe.

The pros about living in Zurich are that it is very clean, it has relatively low crime, it’s wealthy and there are plenty of job opportunities still – which generally pay well.  The cons are the cost of living – particularly the cost of accommodation – and if you’re thinking of moving to live anywhere in Switzerland you must not underestimate how high your cost of living will be!  You will also have to factor in health insurance as there is no state subsidised system.  Additionally, if you have children it is not common for both parents to work – in part this is simply because school hours are less than suited to allowing a parent to work outside of the home!  Bureaucracy and language are another two cons – as is the fact that the Swiss are less than welcoming of expatriates on the whole.

3)  Geneva – you can see above for the generalised pros and cons of living and working in Switzerland because they remain absolutely the same for Geneva.  However, Geneva is perhaps a more tolerant city – it certainly has a reputation for being a very international destination – making it slightly easier for expats to make a home here.  The language of the city is officially French, but by the very nature of the broad range of international institutions and bodies who have a corporate home in Geneva, English is widely accepted and understood as a working business language.

4)  Vancouver – Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada and it is located on the coast in British Columbia on the West side of Canada.  It always seems to rank well in terms of its ‘liveability’ status in various surveys looking at the quality of life around the world.  It enjoys perhaps the most temperate climate in Canada which is definitely a pro – and because there is great diversity in terms of the economic sectors supporting the city, there are a broad range of employment opportunities in Vancouver too.  Crime is relatively high though, and that’s a definite con – adult obesity rates are also high and the cost of living is high too.  However, Vancouver is clean, has decent education and cultural offerings and has a strong expat community.

5)  Auckland – As New Zealand is one of we Britons’ favourite expatriate destinations it’s good to see a New Zealand city in the top 5 in the world in terms of the quality of life on offer there.  Auckland scores so well because it offers a good balance in terms of the standard of living, the cost of living and the way of life.

Auckland is on North Island and because of its geographical position it is in an enviable position boasting excellent scenery on its doorstep.  Population density is relatively low, housing standards relatively high, the climate is temperate for New Zealand and because the city is home to so many different cultures, the city is really rich in terms of its entertainment offerings.  Employment options and education standards are high too – but the cost of living is increasing along with crime and traffic problems.  A poor level of expensive public transport is one of the main gripes for people living in Auckland.

So What About the Rest of the Top 10?

Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Bern and Sydney complete the top 10 line up for the 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey and we will be looking at them in depth in our next article

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