Each year, ECA International objectively evaluates over 480 locations worldwide on a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall “quality of living.” Their Location Ratings system is the output of this work. These ratings impact quality of living allowances and most definitely play into an expatriate’s decision-making when deciding on an international assignment. 

Hong Kong has always been high in the rankings, but this year it drops 52 places down to the 93rd most livable location for East Asian expatriates. The ongoing protests in mid-2019 have shaken the city and left many with doubts and uncertainty. Even the trusted and dependable Mass Transit Railway (MTR) has had its dependability questioned. Long-term air quality and pollution issues have worked against Hong Kong's rating, too.

Across the region, Singapore again claims the top spot. “This is due to a combination of factors such as low crime rates, easy access to good quality schools and healthcare and lower levels of pollution than a lot of other locations in the region," said ECA Asia Regional Director Lee Quane. Many Chinese cities fell in the rankings, with Beijing falling 10 places to 134th on the list. Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei all performed well.

With elections planned in many countries over the next 12 months, there is wonder as to whether further political turmoil may arise, and there is no shortage of attention being paid to the impact of COVID-19 across the region and the entire world (this year's Location Ratings evaluation largely occurred before the disease's outbreak).

Without question, mobility programs are working hard to monitor global happenings with a keen eye and sharp focus on the level of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that their company must try to address as they send talent to new destinations and host locations. 2020 has gotten off to a tumultuous start, and mobility teams will likely need higher levels of effective communication and more aggressive collaboration than in years past.