Covid curbs and politics bring Hong Kong's liveability ranking down to 92nd

Hong Kong's liveability ranking for Asian expatriates now sits at 92nd in the world after falling by 15, with the decline primarily due to the stringent Covid-19 restrictions and changes in the political environment, according to ECA International.

Meanwhile, other Asian countries have seen improvements in their ranking as restrictions were lifted in the post-pandemic era.

The SAR's score is also behind that of most places, including Taipei, Tokyo, Sydney, London, Vancouver, and San Francisco, which have been destinations for many people who left the city last year.

“Hong Kong’s maintenance of measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 during 2022 stood in contrast to peers both regionally and globally,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director for Asia at ECA international.

“Continued quarantine restrictions, the limitation of access to recreational activities, and other social distancing measures persisted throughout 2022 … Furthermore, Hong Kong’s fall was reflective of changes in the political environment witnessed through recent legislative council and elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive.”

As the border between the SAR and China fully reopened, and the matters related to the chief executive election were all settled, Quane expected Hong Kong's ranking to rebound in 2023.

Yet, he didn't have high hopes for the ranking to jump to 58th as in 2020 or above.

Updated annually, ECA International's Location Ratings system measures the quality of expatriate living conditions in over 500 locations around the world to arrive at an assessment of the level of difficulty the expatriate will experience in adapting to a new location.

Factors evaluated include climate; availability of health services; housing and utilities; isolation; access to a social network and leisure facilities; infrastructure; personal safety; political tensions and air quality.

Singapore remains the most liveable location for expatriates from East Asia, with its score improving compared with last year. Covid-19 restrictions in Singapore were lifted earlier than other major locations in Asia, enabling the Lion City to secure its first place in the rankings.

Extensive Covid restrictions and lockdowns also dragged Chinese cities in the rankings, including Shanghai, which remains the highest place in the country despite an 11-place fall.

Shanghai sits at 128th place, followed by Dalian, which experienced the most significant decrease among all Chinese locations surveyed and dipped 14 places to 161st position.