Best cities to work: Chennai & Hyderabad

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As per Mercer’s survey, Indian cities are safer than most cities in South Asia with Chennai at the top. Hyderabad tops the list in terms of quality of living.

Next time, the company transfers you to a new city; do check out two quotients —safety and quality of living.

According to a survey by Mercer, Chennai has emerged as the safest city in India followed by Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkata. New Delhi and Mumbai come in late in the list.

Chennai is ranked 113 in the world, while Hyderabad and Bengaluru are at 121 and 123. Pune and Kolkata are also close to each other at 129 and 131, respectively.

In comparison, New Delhi and Mumbai are at 142 and 149, respectively.

Indian cities are ranked somewhere in the middle among the 230 cities across the world. However, the survey suggests that Indian cities are safer than most others in South Asia.

While Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, was above Hyderabad by six ranks, at 132, Dhaka in Bangladesh is ranked 216 and Pakistan’s Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi are ranked 193, 199 and 202, respectively.

The recent security issues, social unrest, and concern about the region’s economic outlook have not affected the rankings of European cities.

The European cities, Luxembourg, Bern, Helsinki, Zurich, Vienna, Geneva and Stockholm, have taken away the top seven slots among the safest cities in the world, followed by Singapore—the only Asian city in the top 10—and Auckland and Wellington of New Zealand.

The cities are judged on the basis of internal stability, crime figure levels, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country’s relationship with other countries.

The survey is conducted annually to enable multinational companies and other employers to compensate employees fairly, while placing them on international assignments. Employee incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium.

Safety, in particular, is a key consideration for multinationals while sending expatriate workers abroad. Not only because they are concerned about the personal safety of the expats, but because it has a significant impact on the cost of global compensation programmes.

The survey also ranks the cities in terms of quality of living. They are judged on several parameters, such as political and social environment, medical care and health considerations, public services, recreation facilities and natural environment amongst others.

Among Indian cities, Hyderabad tops the list in terms of overall quality of living, followed by Pune and Bengaluru. Hyderabad has slipped one rank from last year, to 139, on account of increased and more frequent power disruptions in the recent years. Another reason for the fall in rank was the extreme weather situation, particularly in May 2015, when intense heat caused approximately 2,000 deaths countrywide. The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were particularly affected, having recorded over 1,700 deaths.

Pune, which ranks second among the Indian cities, is at position 144 followed by Bengaluru at 145. The survey highlights that Indian cities haven’t made much progress on the quality of living scale, scoring nearly the same as they did last year.

Over time, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai have emerged as cities of choice due their relatively lower crime rates, lesser air pollution and improved options for international and reputable English-speaking schools.

Both Hyderabad and Pune rank higher in terms of quality of living than the country’s more traditional business centres, Mumbai and New Delhi, which hold the 152nd and 161st ranks, respectively.

“Most Indian companies send their employees on short-term or long-term assignments to developed nations. Low scores and rankings of Indian cities do not reckon a provision of hardship or quality of living allowance, as the differential tends to show marked improvement in quality of living from an Indian base city,” said Ruchika Pal, principal and India practice leader-global mobility, at Mercer.

In case employees are sent to hardship locations, companies typically depend on data service providers’ recommendations to determine the hardship premiums.

Despite economic uncertainties, Western European cities continue to enjoy the highest quality of living worldwide, filling up seven places in the list of the Top-10. Vienna continues to lead just as it did in the last seven published rankings. It is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), and Copenhagen (9). In the 69th place, Prague is the highest ranking city in Central and Eastern Europe, followed by Ljubljana (76) and Budapest (77). The lowest ranked cities in Europe are Kiev (176), Tirana (179), and Minsk (190).

Quality of living remains high in North America, where Canadian cities dominate the top positions of the list. Vancouver (5) is the city ranked highest, followed by Toronto (15) and Ottawa (17). In the United States, San Francisco (28) ranks highest for quality of living, followed by Boston (34), Honolulu (35), Chicago (43) and New York City (44). In Mexico, Monterrey (108) gets the highest ranking, whereas Mexico City gets rank 127. While the lowest-ranking cities in North America are Monterrey (108) and Mexico City (127), for the Caribbean, they are Havana (191) and Port-au-Prince (227). In South America, Montevideo (78), Buenos Aires (93), and Santiago (94) have the highest quality of living, whereas Bogota (130), La Paz (156), and Caracas (185) have the lowest.

The lowest ranked cities in terms of safety and overall quality of life are from the West Asian and North African countries, with Baghdad and Damascus at the bottom of the list.

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