Where are the best places for Asian expats to live in Southeast Asia?

Asian expats
Singapore remains the best place in the world for Asian expats according to a recent survey

Many East Asian expats call Southeast Asia home. A significant number of companies from China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong have set up shop in the region bringing with them local staff to help with operations. However, not all locations for these expats are equal in terms of liveability.

A recent survey from ECA International, an international knowledge, information and technology provider, ranked 480 locations around the world based on the quality of living conditions for East Asian expats. Some of the factors used for the survey include climate, availability of health services, infrastructure, personal safety and political tensions.

In a surprise to no one who follows these types of surveys, Singapore was named the best place in the world for Asian expats to live. This was the 14th year in a row the city-state finished on top of ECA’s list.

“Unsurprisingly for many, Singapore once again remains the most liveable location in the world for expats relocating from elsewhere in East Asia.” Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International, explained in a press release. “A number of factors make Singapore the ideal location; such as access to great facilities, low crime rates, good quality healthcare and education, as well as a large expat population already living in Singapore. Although many cities in Asia offer similar benefits to overseas workers, Singapore remains the top location and doesn’t look like dropping in the rankings any time soon.”

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Asian expats enjoy better conditions in Malaysia and Thailand

They may not dislodge Singapore anytime soon, but cities in Malaysia and Thailand were becoming more liveable for Asian expats. The survey noted that most cities in the two countries improved last year with Bangkok being ranked in 89th place. In Malaysia, both George Town and Kuala Lumpur broke into the top 100, rising to 97th and 98th place respectively.

“Both Thailand and Malaysia continue to develop and improve their infrastructure which has seen their liveability scores steadily improve over recent years,” Quane pointed out. “In particular, advances in road and transport infrastructure have improved access to areas in these countries that were once considered far more remote.”

The one thing Thai and Malaysian cities have going for them is lower cost of living. While Singapore may have been voted as the best place for Asian expats to live, it is also the 18th most expensive location in the world for expats, according to ECA. This pales in comparison to Bangkok, which finished 90th, and Kuala Lumpur, which placed 188th in the same rankings.

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“Over the past five years Bangkok has climbed over 80 places and the Thai capital now sits in 90th place in our cost of living rankings,” Quane reported. “The Thai baht has strengthened in recent years as the economy has expanded and the political landscape has stabilised.”

He continued, “Although the Malaysian cities in our survey have all seen significant rises of over twenty places each, Malaysia remains one of the cheapest locations in Asia for overseas workers.”