Northern European cities continue to dominate as most liveable locations for European expatriates, but Dublin shines with ranking rise

15 February, 2019

Copenhagen in Denmark and Bern in Switzerland offer the best liveability standards for European expats, scoring at the top of ECA’s ranking for over seven years. This was one of the conclusions of the latest Location Ratings survey published by global mobility experts, ECA International.

Alongside Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and a big climber in the latest ranking update, cities in northern European and Scandinavian nations once again dominate the top ten most liveable locations for European expats. The Netherlands and Switzerland each have three cities within the top ten. Factors such as excellent infrastructure, reliable transport systems, and a high level of healthcare have all contributed to their consistently excellent liveability score.

But it is Dublin that has grabbed the attention as it makes its re-entry into the ranking top ten, becoming one of the most attractive cities in Europe for European expats. In fact, it was also ranked the 23rd most liveable location for Asian expats – beating many Asian cities, including Hong Kong.

Updated annually, ECA's Location Ratings system objectively evaluates a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 480 locations worldwide. The system helps companies establish appropriate allowances to compensate employees for the adjustment required when going on international assignment.

Factors assessed include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; natural phenomena; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions; and air quality. The impact of some of the factors assessed vary according to the home location of the assignee.

ECA’s annual Location Ratings survey has followed Dublin’s steady rise in recent years as liveability in Ireland’s capital started to become one of the most desirable in Europe, and indeed, the world. This year Dublin re-entered the top ten in joint ninth place with Gothenburg and Luxembourg, offering the most superior living conditions for European expats.

“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,” explains Neil Ashman, senior Location ratings analyst at ECA International.

Despite a troubling couple of years, London is holding steady in the top 50 most liveable locations for European expats in 49th place, but is outperformed by the fellow UK cities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, both in Scotland, which are ranked 20th and 21st, respectively.

The most liveable non-European location for European expats is Toronto, Canada. Canadian cities in general all score very well and have regularly featured high up in the rankings for European expatriates thanks to low crime levels, good public facilities, and little air pollution.

Canberra and Wellington also offer high liveability standards for Europeans, making 40th and 45th place respectively. All of 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, low crime, efficient transport services and a range of available housing are highlighted as just some of the attractions to Europeans.

Singapore is the most liveable Asian location for European expatriates and in fact the only city from the region that makes it into the top 100. “Asian cities tend not to feature so highly for European expats due to significant differences in climate and language,” explains Mr Ashman. “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.”