HCM City one of best cities in Asia for expats: survey

HCM City ranked 19th out of 86 cities globally for expats to live and work, and was only surpassed in Asia by Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, according to the Expat City Ranking 2020 by InterNations.

HCM City one of best cities in Asia for expats: survey
HCM City ranked 19th out of 86 cities globally for expats to live and work, according to one survey. Photo courtesy of the city Department of Tourism 

In Asia, Singapore ranked fifth, Kuala Lumpur eighth, Shanghai 21st, Bangkok 30th, Tokyo 53th and Beijing 55th. Hong Kong, once ranked as one of Asia’s top cities to live and work, ranked 57th.

HCM City ranked high in the Cost of Living Index (4th) and the Finance & Housing Index (5th). Nearly three out of four expats (74 per cent) rated the cost of living positively, which is 28 percentage points above the global average (46 per cent). 

“Even though the overall cost of living has increased, it is still affordable,” said an expat from Australia. In fact, about two-thirds (67 per cent) said their disposable household income was more than what they needed to cover expenses (compared to 51 per cent globally). 

In addition, housing is seen as affordable (63 per cent compared to 41 per cent globally) and easy to find as well (88 per cent compared to 55 per cent globally).

Expats said they were satisfied with their jobs in general (6th) and were pleased with the status of the city’s economy (81 per cent compared to 63 per cent globally) and their work-life-balance (72 per cent compared to 64 per cent globally). 

The city was praised for its people’s friendliness, with 79 per cent of expats rating their attitude towards foreign residents as generally friendly and sincere (compared to 66 per cent globally). 


On the downside, the city performed poorly in the Quality of Urban Living Index (55th). It ranked among the bottom 10 worldwide in the Transportation subcategory (60th), as fewer than one in four expats (24 per cent) rated its public transportation infrastructure positively (compared to 66 per cent globally). 

The city also received poor results in the Health & Environment subcategory (59th). Only 27 per cent of expats said they were happy with the city’s urban environment. According to one American expat, the southern metropolis is noisy and polluted, and there are few green spaces. 

HCM City’s ranking dropped this year, after ranking third best city for expats to live and work globally last year.

InterNations, an expat network that publishes annual rankings on the world’s best and worst countries, asked more than 15,000 expats to rank the best cities in the world to live, work and make friends in 2020. They represent 173 nationalities living in 181 countries or territories. VNS