Singapore a top draw for East Asian expats
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Singapore a top draw for East Asian expats

Liveability survey tepid on Bangkok

People gather at the Merlion Park along Marina Bay in Singapore last month. AFP
People gather at the Merlion Park along Marina Bay in Singapore last month. AFP

For expatriates from East Asia looking for a place to live, Singapore was their top choice in 2022.

In Thailand, Bangkok maintained its attractiveness, ranked 115th globally, while Chiang Mai climbed to 116th, according to a recent survey.

Findings from the "Location Ratings" survey by ECA International revealed Singapore remained the most desirable location for expats from East Asia, with its liveability score improving last year.

The ranking was supported by the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, which took place sooner in Singapore than other major locations in Asia.

Similarly, locations in Southeast Asia improved overall in scores and rankings over the past year because of the relaxation of pandemic restrictions.

Cities that climbed the rankings included those in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the study.

Yangon in Myanmar was the only location in the region that had a lower ranking, attributed to civil unrest in the country.

Bangkok ranked as the No.2 destination in Asean among surveyed East Asian expats, with the rankings suggesting the capital is anchored outside the top 100.

Chiang Mai rose to 116th, up from 118th a year earlier. The report based its evaluation on factors such as climate, availability of health services, housing and utilities, access to social networks and leisure facilities, personal safety, political tensions and air quality.

"Asean locations followed Singapore's lead and relaxed their Covid-19 restrictions accordingly. In doing so, they improved their positions in our ratings," said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at consultancy ECA International.

"The impact of these improvements remains largely limited as the gap between Singapore and Bangkok indicates a wide disparity within the region that must be narrowed before other locations in Asean can offer similar living standards to the Lion City."

Locations in China and Hong Kong had lower rankings, with the latter plunging to 92nd last year from 15th in 2021.

"Continued quarantine restrictions, limited access to recreational activities and other social distancing measures persisted throughout 2022, which put Hong Kong in a less favourable position compared with other locations," he said.

Furthermore, recent legislative council moves and elections for Hong Kong's chief executive also signalled changes in its political environment, which contributed to the decline in its liveability score and ranking, said Mr Quane.

"Likewise cities in mainland China all fell in our rankings, exclusively attributed to the impact of China's zero-Covid strategy that was maintained throughout most of 2022," he said.

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