Expats concerned about their personal safety should head to Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria, according to a new global survey.
Meanwhile those heading for danger zones including Nigeria and Lebanon present a financial headache for their employers, who must pay big money to ensure they’re kept as safe as possible.
Mercer ranked 230 cities based on internal stability, crime levels, performance of local law enforcement and the home country’s relationship with other countries.
Luxembourg took the top spot, followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich, which were tied at second place. Vienna came fifth.
Baghdad, Damascus, Karachi and Nairobi were among the lowest ranking cities for personal safety.
The survey is conducted annually to enable employers to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.
It’s not just compensation – otherwise known as “danger money” – that racks up the costs of sending employees to less safe destinations.
Slagin Parakatil from Mercer said: “Other elements that add to safety costs in the host location are obtaining suitable and well secured accommodation; having an in-house comprehensive expatriate security programme, providing access to reputable professional evacuation services and medical support firms, and providing security training and guarded office premises.”
Canadian cities all rank highly for personal safety, with Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver sharing 16th place. Abu Dhabi is seen as the safest of the United Arab Emirates cities, in 23rd place, with Dubai in 40th.
The top-ranked cities in the USA are Chicago, Houston and Honolulu, in joint 54th. Bottom of the table in the States is St Louis, Atlanta and Detroit in joint 107th.
A number of key European cities rank considerably lower than others due to either terrorist attacks or social unrest in the last few years; examples include Paris (71), London (72), Madrid (84), and Athens (124).
The recent political and economic turmoil in Greece, which resulted in violent demonstrations in Athens and other cities in the country, has undermined its safety ranking. Kiev (189), St Petersburg (197), and Moscow (206) rank lowest for personal safety in the region.
Doha in Qatar, which is set to host the World Cup in 2022, fell in 70th place. Rio, hosting the Olympics this summer, was placed 185th.
Last year, InterNations, the expat networking organisation, examined health, safety and wellbeing in its annual Expat Insider survey, but in a broader context than Mercer.
More than 14,000 expats in 170 countries were asked to rate the quality and affordability of health care, the weather and the environment in the survey – as well as personal safety and political stability.
On the basis of those factors combined, Austria came top, followed by Japan, Portugal, Malta and Switzerland.