North America: Vancouver offers the best quality of life

According to the latest edition of the Mercer study on the quality of life, Canada leads the North American standings with Vancouver in first place. The metropolitan area is also ranked fifth globally. Overview of a survey that allows multinational companies to assess the pay and compensations granted to their expatriates.


To establish its enquiry into living conditions, Mercer reviewed over 460 cities worldwide through assessments and evaluations based on 39 elements that allow the quality of life to be judged. These elements are grouped into 10 different categories: political and social environment, economic environment, sociocultural environment, medical and health considerations, access and level of education and international schools, public services and transport, recreation offered, availability of consumer goods, housing and climatic environment.


4 Canadian cities among the highest in North America


Vancouver (5th in the world), Ottawa (14th), Toronto (15th), Montreal (23rd) and San Francisco (27th) are the five metropolises with the best quality of life in North America. According to Luc Lalonde, lead adviser at Mercer in Canada, these good results are explained by a particularly high quality of life in terms of consumer goods, infrastructure and recreation. It should be noted that no Canadian city is among the lower ranked cities in the region: Mexico (122nd), Detroit (70th), Saint-Louis (67th), Houston (66th) and Miami (65th).


Contrasting results for Central America and South America


The cities of Central America and South America show some significant differences. The best rankings are for Pointe-à-Pitre (69th in the global rankings), San Juan (72nd), Montevideo (77th), Buenos Aires (81st) and Santiago (93rd). What sets them apart? A reasonably stable political environment, agreeable climate and improved infrastructure, according to Slagin Parakatil, lead researcher at Mercer. The cities with the worst results are Port-Au-Prince (221nd), Tegucigalpa (181st), Caracas (176th), San Salvador (175th) and Managua (170th). These are places considered difficult because of natural disasters, marked economic inequalities and high crime rates, according to Mr. Parakatil, who believes that companies should strive to offer their expatriates compensatory indemnities for the difficulties encountered.


European cities dominate the global rankings


In terms of world rankings, European cities come into their own once again this year. Thus we find Vienna in first place, Zurich (2nd), Auckland (3rd), Munich (4th), Vancouver (5th), Dusseldorf (6th) and Frankfurt (7th). In the 25th rank, Singapore ranks first in Asia-Pacific cities and Dubai (73rd) leading cities of the Middle East and Africa.

Metropolises considered the most difficult in the standings are Baghdad, ranked 223rd just after Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, theatre of communal and religious violence for almost a year. The Middle East and Africa include particularly dangerous areas, according to Mr. Parakatil, due to political turmoil but also from deficient infrastructures and natural disasters. However, some cities are making efforts to attract businesses.


“Emerging Cities”: new in the 2014 rankings


The enquiry this year highlights “emerging cities” and provides several examples around the world. They are characterized, Mr. Parakatil says, by major investments in infrastructure, taxation and housing benefits to become more attractive in the eyes of foreign investors. These are places that will occupy more space and compete with the great capitals and traditional financial centres.

Identified as emerging cities are Durban (85th) in South Africa, for the growth of manufacturing and its shipping port; Wroclaw in Poland for its economic performance, improved infrastructure and the proliferation of local and foreign investments; and Manaus in Brazil (125th) due to its industrial significance, the recent creation of the “Manaus Free Trade Zone” and the already effective establishment of several multinationals.


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