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European expats move mostly within Europe

Published: Thursday 28 February 2019

By Halo Financial Team

A new survey of top expat destinations, calculated on quality of life factors, shows that European expats are more likely to settle elsewhere in Europe, with Canada the most popular non-European country.

The survey assesses liveability in 480 cities around the world, evaluating various factors, including availability of health services, housing and utilities, isolation, access to a social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, climate, personal safety, political tensions and air quality. 

Toronto is top choice outside Europe

The highest ranked city outside Europe is Toronto, Canada, which came joint 31st.

Copenhagen in first place

The number one choice is Copenhagen, in Denmark. The runner-up is Bern, Switzerland, and The Hague, in the Netherlands, is third in the listing from mobility solutions specialist, ECA International.

Scottish cities top for UK

Scottish cities are the top UK target for European expats, with Edinburgh placed 19th among the most liveable cities and Aberdeen 21st in the annual ranking.

Existing expat communities pave the way

Neil Ashman, Senior Location Ratings Analyst at ECA International, explains, “Edinburgh and Aberdeen lead the way for UK cities in terms of liveability due to a range of factors, including lower air pollution and a greater level of personal security. However, what really makes these two cities outshine others in the UK is the existing expat community.

“This is an important factor in the liveability analysis as a solid network of expatriates will help newcomers feel less isolated and reduces the anticipated culture shock for workers that relocate from overseas.”

London in 49th place

Despite a troubling couple of years, London just makes the Top 50 most liveable locations for European expats in 49th place. Glasgow is the only UK city with a lower ranking than London, in 7th place.

“Although London has continued to see higher air pollution and crime levels in the past year, the city’s overall liveability score has remained steady, in part due to the improved availability of expatriate-standard housing,” adds Mr Ashman.

Smaller UK cities score better

“It is understandable that smaller cities such as Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast score better in areas that will always pose a challenge for a city as big as London, such air quality and personal security. This is a trend we see repeated throughout the world. For instance, Berlin is the lowest ranked of the seven German cities in our rankings, and Paris is fourth out of the five French cities in our list.”
Historic canal of Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark - Halo Financial

Dublin back in Top 10

Dublin has re-entered the top 10 locations in the world for European workers for the first time since 2016. Sitting in joint 9th, the Irish capital is now on par with Gothenburg and Luxembourg.

“Dublin has seen a return to the top ten after dropping out in 2017 due to a shortage of suitable housing for expatriates in the city. However, our research reveals a general opinion from the expat community that they feel safer in Dublin after dark, which has improved the city’s personal security score this year,” says Mr Ashman explained. 

Northern European cities dominate

Northern European cities continue to dominate the top of the rankings, with The Netherlands and Switzerland each having three cities within the Top Ten.

“Cities in Scandinavia, Switzerland and the Netherlands have offered good liveability across the board for many years now; with factors such as excellent infrastructure, reliable transport systems, and a high level of healthcare all contributing to their consistently excellent liveability score.”

Canadian cities outrank UK

Outside Europe, Canadian cities in general all fare very well, with Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal all scoring higher than Belfast, London and Glasgow in the UK.

Mr Ashman says, “Canadian cities have always featured high up in the rankings for European expatriates thanks to low crime levels, good public facilities, and little air pollution. The only anomaly to this was in 2017 when Montreal briefly dropped in the rankings following severe flooding. The city has since recovered well since the floods and risen five places in the latest survey, essentially returning to its original position.”

Australia and New Zealand cities score highly

Australia and New Zealand also score highly. Canberra and Wellington also offer high liveability standards for Europeans, making 40th and 45th place respectively; higher than some UK cities. All the Australian and New Zealand locations included in the rankings feature in the top 100.

 “Despite the long travel distances from Europe, which impacts the external isolation score for Europeans away from home, it is no surprise to see the majority of these cities in the top 50. Cities in Australia and New Zealand have always scored well, with low crime, efficient transport services and a range of available housing just some of the attractions,” Mr Ashman explains.

Singapore is top choice in Asia

Singapore is the most liveable Asian location for European expatriates and the only one that makes it into the top 100.

Mr Ashman says, “Asian cities tend not to feature so highly for European expats due to significant differences in climate and language. However, a number of factors make Singapore the most liveable Asian location for European expats including the large European expat communities already living in Singapore - something which makes it a lot easier for expats to adapt and suitably acclimatise to their new surroundings.”

Asia Pacific Expat survey

A similar survey of the 20 most liveable locations for Asian expatriates is led by Singapore, with Australian cities, Sydney and Brisbane, in joint second place and Adelaide fourth. Osaka, in Japan, was fifth.
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