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Hong Kong’s Rise in Livability Rankings Signals Post-Pandemic Recovery

Hong Kong's Rise in Livability Rankings Signals Post-Pandemic Recovery

Hong Kong, once hailed as a bustling metropolis and a hub for expatriates, has seen a significant improvement in its livability ranking, according to a recent survey by human resources consultancy ECA International. The city’s ranking among the world’s most livable cities for expatriates jumped to 77th out of 500 cities worldwide last year, a notable increase from its previous position at 92nd in 2022. While this progress is commendable, Hong Kong still lags behind its regional competitor, Singapore, which has held the title of the most livable city for expatriates for the past decade.

The annual survey conducted by ECA International assesses various factors that contribute to a city’s livability, including personal security, social environment, education, health care, housing, and climate. Mark Harrison, ECA’s general manager for Asia, attributed the improved livability of Hong Kong and mainland cities to the lifting of anti-pandemic measures. He stated that these locations faced challenges during the final stages of the pandemic due to delayed relaxation of restrictions. However, the subsequent easing of measures has positively impacted the living conditions in these areas.

Shanghai, the highest-ranked mainland city, experienced a notable rise in its livability ranking, moving up 15 places to 113th last year from 128th in 2022. Other mainland cities, including Xi’an and Wuhan, also witnessed improvements in their rankings due to enhanced living conditions. Shenzhen, in particular, climbed to 137th from 152nd over the past decade.

While Hong Kong’s recent progress is encouraging, it has experienced a decline in its livability ranking over the past ten years. This decline can be attributed to a deteriorated social and political environment, as well as restrictions on freedom of speech following the social movements in 2014 and 2019, as noted by Harrison. The disruption caused by protests has made expatriates and individuals feel threatened, influencing their overall perception of the city.

The impact of the national security law on Hong Kong’s livability ranking was considered minimal by Harrison. He asserted that the law would not significantly affect the day-to-day work and lives of expatriates. Instead, factors such as air pollution and the risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, have contributed to making other cities, such as Singapore, more desirable in comparison.

Harrison recommended that the Hong Kong government maintain effective disaster control measures and promote the use of electric vehicles to combat air pollution. Looking ahead, he expects Hong Kong’s livability ranking to continue its upward trajectory in the coming years, attributing this trend to the easing of socio-political tensions and the resumption of air travel post-pandemic. He also emphasized the importance of the government’s efforts to attract foreign companies to set up headquarters in the city, as this would positively influence the choices of expatriates.

Singapore secured the top spot as the most livable city in the world, with Tokyo ranking second. Taipei shared the same ranking as Hong Kong at 77th, while Macau ranked 92nd. Despite the challenges faced, Harrison highlighted Hong Kong’s excellent facilities, infrastructure, recreational options, and low crime rate, which continue to make it an attractive location compared to many other cities in the region.

As Hong Kong strives for a post-pandemic recovery, its improved livability ranking serves as a promising sign for the city’s future. With ongoing efforts to address social and political concerns, enhance environmental sustainability, and attract foreign investment, Hong Kong has the potential to reclaim its position as a leading destination for expatriates seeking an exceptional quality of life.