Hong Kong risks losing out on top expatriate talent if it does not tackle its pollution and housing issues, according to latest survey findings on quality of life, released by a global consulting firm.
The annual survey by Mercer, used by multinational companies to design expat packages, ranked Hong Kong 71 out of 231 cities for quality of living – dropping one spot from last year’s placing.
In Asia, Hong Kong’s regional rival Singapore took the top spot, followed by five Japanese cities. Hong Kong placed 7th.
Pollution and housing were some of the greatest concerns for expatriates looking to move to Hong Kong.
“For employees with families, they need to consider their children’s health. Singapore will definitely be a better place than Hong Kong because of better pollution control,” Connie Leung, principal business leader for talent information solutions at Mercer, said.
“And as for housing [in Singapore], you may have more choices for flats [and] the living environment is much better. The cost is too high in Hong Kong and so you have a limited choice [of flats].”
Vienna in Austria took the number one ranking overall for the city with the best quality of life.
According to the survey, Hong Kong’s quality of life was on par with Detroit, a former United States automobile manufacturing powerhouse.
Social and political issues were also reasons for the city’s lower ranking.
“Hong Kong saw a dip in ranking due to recent social and political uncertainties as well as the rise in quality of living in other cities in the region,” Leung said.
“The good news is, Hong Kong still remains at a relatively good standing compared to nearby cities in Asia.”
The survey looked at 10 categories including: political and social environment, economic environment, natural environment, housing, health services, and education.
British account manager Nick Ball has been a Hong Kong resident since 2011 and said he has seen a decline in his quality of life.
“A lot of places where we use to hang out have disappeared because of [high] rents, and it seems that things that can bring a better way of life … are just not really being very well run anymore,” he said.
“Congestion has got a lot worse. You try to go anywhere on the weekend and it’s just terrible unless you get out first thing in the morning because there are traffic jams everywhere.”
Despite the problems, Ball still said there was “no other place on Earth” like Hong Kong, but he was uncertain if he would still be in the city five years from now if things continued to decline.