Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Between Nicaragua & Libya???

The latest Mercer survey on quality of expat life shows Moscow's scores sandwiched between Nicaragua’s capital Managua and the Libyan port of Tripoli. Omigosh, I didn't realise I was living such a miserable existence!! You folks should be lots nicer to me from now on ya? ;)

June 11, 2008 Report by St Petersburg Times below

‘Miserable’ Moscow Ranks Low

By Nikolaus von Twickel

Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Moscow’s quality of life for expatriates is one of Europe’s most miserable, while personal safety is the worst on the continent, according to a study released Tuesday.

The 2008 Quality of Living Survey, published by consulting firm Mercer to help big companies and governments with international assignments, ranks Moscow a low No. 166 out of 215 cities worldwide in terms of overall quality of life.

Using New York as a benchmark with an index of 100, Moscow gets just 55.5 points and is sandwiched between Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, and the Libyan port of Tripoli.

Moscow fares worse than St. Petersburg, which won the country’s best spot at No. 162 and Kiev, which ranked 161st.

The rankings are based on 39 determinants, including the political and social environment, health care, schooling, public services, consumer goods and housing.

Top of the list is Swiss financial hub Zurich, which scores 108, followed by Vienna and Geneva, which tied for second.

The cities with the lowest quality of life are mainly in Africa, with Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, at 212, Congo’s Brazzaville at 213 and the Central African Republic’s Bangui at 214. At rock bottom, though, is Baghdad.

Moscow’s performance was particularly poor in terms of personal safety for expatriates, published as a separate ranking based on a mix of internal stability, crime, effectiveness of law enforcement and relationships with other countries.

Here, the capital scored only 37.7 out of New York’s 100, giving it the rank of 196, the lowest in Europe. Luxembourg came out top, followed by Bern and Geneva.

To improve, Moscow would have to address both internal stability issues and environmental factors like air pollution, said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer who is responsible for the study.

Mercer lists Moscow as the world’s 14th-dirtiest city, worse than New Delhi but slightly better than what it called the ecological disaster zones of Mexico City and Baku.

“Sending an expat to Moscow would require to add quite a hardship allowance to compensate for that,” Parakatil said by telephone from Geneva.

The report says overall quality of life is worse than Moscow in two other Russian cities, Novosibirsk and Kazan, and two cities elsewhere in Europe, Minsk and Albania’s capital, Tirana.

Moscow’s comparative advantages, Parakatil said, were its size and international outlook.

“Moscow definitely scores very highly when it comes to entertainment, including opera and theater,” he said.

“It is also fairly cosmopolitan and offers a large variety of food [in restaurants].”

Parakatil said costs were not included in the quality of life survey. “We are looking at the availability [of goods and services] and at their quality, not at their cost,” he said.

Mercer has for the past two years ranked Moscow as the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. The firm’s annual cost-of-living survey will probably be published at the end of this month, Parakatil said.

He would not comment on the likelihood of Moscow retaining its top position.

He said cultural issues like language skills did not enter the report’s equation because otherwise the findings would become subjective.

As an example, he explained that it might be just as difficult to find English speakers in Tokyo as for a Japanese person to find a Japanese speaker in Spain.

A Moscow City Hall official said that while he could not comment on the report before he had studied it, there had been instances of bias and errors in past reports.

“We carefully monitor such ratings because we want Moscow to be an attractive city in every sense … and because we believe that it is a modern civilized city,” said Alexander Pogorelov of the city’s international relations department.

As an example, he cited a tourism survey published by a London newspaper that gave Moscow a low ranking because it apparently lacked a single United Nations World Heritage site. “But the Kremlin, Red Square and the Novodevichy Convent are listed,” he said.

Earlier this week, Moscow came 61st in an environmental survey of Russia’s 89 regions.


Tsu Lin + + said...

Well, look at the bright side : Moscow definitely scores very highly when it comes to entertainment, including opera and theater.


(I hope your hardship allowances more than compensate for the lack of everything else. Well, at least you still have the internet - China bans blogspot. Imagine if you were there!)

Lilian said...

You hit the nail on the head -- true hardship for me is indeed living without the internet, with blogspot being one of the essential sites I need to preserve my sanity!

Alcovelet said...

Too funny. Sounds like EVERYONE in Moscow has to turn to blogging for their bit of sanity!!

Lilian said...

Seriously, people talk about depression hitting you about 6 months after you move to a new country. I think it's true in the past. I don't think I could have coped moving to a strange country before the advent of the internet.

But with old friends just a click away, and tonnes of stuff on the net to kaypoh and while my time away, I've been all right, even in a place like Moscow. It does make me a bit complacent in making new friends though, cos the need just isn't that urgent :)

My Gems said...

Sounds really silly but I was in depression for 6 months when we first moved to France. Life returned to normalcy only after a one-week vacation in England. Guess I wasn't ready to immerse myself into a non-English speaking culture then.

Lilian said...

Can understand that. It's tough moving to a non-english speaking country with young children. And you had two so close in age too. Just like Cindy. I'd have gone nuts. I only had to take care of 2-year old Sean when I moved to Frankfut and there were some crazy times for me too.

I've also been lucky in that where I've been, there were enough fun fellow Singaporeans/Malaysians to keep my spirits up. A game of mahjong once in a while helps drive depression away!

bACk in GERMANY said...

Actually, for me it's quite the opposite. I was dying to get out of the house, meet people and be immersed back in Germany again, but my two very little kids just didn't allow me to! And just as life gets easier, it's time to pack up and leave... sigh! Guess I have no luck to be a tai-tai, haha...

Lilian said...

Ahhh...you studied in Germany, so the country wasn't totally foreign to you. Well, you never know when you'll go to another country again, cos Alan may get a future posting?

WTMV said...

No reason to fret if Moscow scored anywhere near Managua (I don't know about Tripoli) - it shouldn't be so bad. The reality of expat life in Managua is different than what is perceived: 1 hour to the beautiful beaches on one side, 1 hour to the cool mountains on the other, 3.5 hours to the US, 1.5 hours to Costa Rica and a tad more to Panama, nice weather, access to the Caribbean, safest country in Central America; German, French, American, Swedish Schools...take your pick; nice housing with big gardens and pools. Not considered a hardship post, except for the Americans.

On some days, it could be so-so living here but definitely not miserable.

Lilian said...


Wow, compared to Moscow, Managua sounds like paradise actually :) Funny what you said about it being hardship only in the eyes of Americans! Well, if that leads to higher hardship allowances all round the world, we should thank them!

WTMV said...

As far as I know only the Americans get hardship allowance here (Europe hasn't followed suit yet) because of the love-hate relationship they have with the country and pretty much with the whole Latin America due to their history. You know how neighbors can get. It's all about politics.