European cities among top for quality of living

European cities are among the best in the world for quality of living, with 16 among the top 25 ranked globally, according to Mercer’s Quality of Living survey.

Vienna is the top ranked city for the second year running, followed by Zurich and Geneva in second and third position.

At number 39, London is the UK’s only entry in the top 50. Birmingham is at 55 and Glasgow at 57. Two new cities have been added for the UK, Aberdeen at 53 and Belfast at 63.

Mercer conducts the survey to help multi-national companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.

The index covers 221 cities, which are ranked against New York as the base city. This year, six extra cities have been included to better reflect where companies are sending their expatriate employees in the current business environment.

Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said: “To ensure their expatriates are compensated appropriately and an adequate hardship allowance is included in their benefits package, companies seek a clear picture of the quality of living in these cities.

“Despite the economic downturn and companies’ efforts to contain costs, quality of living and hardship premiums remain important means of compensating expatriates for differences in living conditions,” said Parakatil.

“However, companies are more inclined to review the measurement of such allowances to ensure they are cost-effective.”

This year’s survey also identifies the cities with the best eco-ranking based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion.

Calgary ranks number one in this list, followed by Honolulu in second place, and Ottawa and Helsinki in joint third. Aberdeen is the highest-ranking UK eco-city, at 19, while London is 63.

“A high-ranking eco-city optimise its use of renewable energy sources and generates the lowest possible quantity of pollution,” said Parakatil.

“A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants.

“As a consequence, these are also pertinent issues for companies that send employees and their families on long-term assignments abroad, especially considering the vast majority of expatriates are relocated to urban areas.”

Read more articles on international benefits