How to Truly Measure Quality of Living

“What’s the quality of life like in my proposed country or region of employment? How does it differ from other cities or nations that also boasts a higher quality of living?”

Global mobility managers should be prepared to handle these questions from assignees they are recruiting, newbies and seasoned pros alike.

Newbies who are eager for their first expatriate post will naturally gravitate to places where they feel their efforts will be most rewarded. On the other hand, the veterans who feel (rightly or wrongly) that they had “been there and done that” would want more choices, and just might be more picky. All of them will do their own Google search and ask for recommendations from their friends and colleagues who had been to the places where they are being recruited.

True enough, there are the traditional favorites that all assignees seem to gravitate to:  San Francisco, New York City, Paris, London, and Singapore, just to name a few. Still, not a few of the more ambitious and driven assignees would still ask the global mobility managers for more detailed comparisons even among these preferred locations — especially if they are thinking of a long-term career in expatriate mobility.

For example, it would not be enough to let them know that the Bay Area companies pay better competitive packages than New York City; what they just might ask is the amount of savings they can maintain in each city after paying recurring expenses like rent, kids’ tuition, and car loans.

Fortunately, the global mobility manager does have the data in his fingertips and can provide a more detailed, authoritative, and possibly persuasive quality-of-living analysis to their intensely curious assignees.

They had done the math and taken enough notes for so long that they might have taken their own precious information for granted.

Mercer breaks down all that data into various categories that the global mobility manager can use as a standard of measurement to assess how good or desirable the quality of life is in the cities they recommend:

Compensation vs. cost of living

Assignees who had visited and stayed in too many countries had wizened up to this aspect. The compensation might be more than generous, but how much funds will still be left with them after all the bills, ranging from utilities, rent, education to child-care services, have been paid? If one company does pay 15 percent more than the competition, but the city that they will relocate the assignee to has a 25 percent higher cost-of-living rate than the standard, then the assignee might think twice about the offer.

Enforced property and neighborhood laws

Assignees usually look at style, comfort, convenience, and cost when it comes to the places where they will be staying for the next couple of years. They will also ask about location and weigh the commute time from their new home to their new office and to their kids’ schools. One other aspect that assignees look for is the service rendered by the property manager. Are the utilities working efficiently as promised?

Are the property and neighborhood laws being enforced? What about customer service? Is the property manager willing to go an extra mile should the assignee have an emergency? What if the assignee wants to dress up the venue to feel more at home and in a sense closer to their native country — can the property manager accommodate?

California Corporate Housing is one of the leading corporate housing providers in the Bay Area, because it works to meet assignee’s needs all the time. By making them feel more at home and welcome with the way it doesn’t neglect to customize homes to suit their needs, quality of living is enhanced.

Strong economic environment offers more advantages

This is one aspect that the global mobility manager should also take a look at in pitching their preferred location to their potential assignee. An economic environment that promises growth offers more advantages.

For example, a thriving economy can increase the chances of a promotion or a higher compensation package for the assignee. At the same time, if the company grows, the assignee could find other professional opportunities where they could sharpen their skills and prove themselves to be stronger assets to the organization.

Socio-cultural environment that makes everyone feel welcome

The quality of life that the assignee and their family will enjoy goes well beyond the walls of their organization and their home. The company might practice respect for diversity, and its personnel might naturally be friendly and free of religious, gender, and ethnic biases.

The same might be true of the neighborhood where the assignee lives. But what of the so-called greater world outside? What kind of interaction with the locals can the assignees expect if they venture out into the city’s main areas?

How safe would they be from racial and other kind of slurs? Can they find restaurants serving them their homegrown cuisine? Do the forms of art, culture and entertainment offer foreign material, or do all the performances and media platforms simply adhere to the national culture?

Schools and education for lifelong learning

Learning should be regarded as a lifelong process. The more motivated and forward-thinking assignees are in seeking education not just for their loved ones, but for themselves as well, should go a long way. In the Bay Area, UC Berkeley is ranked number 1 as a public university. Stanford University is in the top list in many categories.

As such, the schools can enhance the quality of life if they offer courses that can help the assignee and their family adjust to their new environment and also help them boost their career. Subjects that teach foreign languages and the history and culture of the country of employment would be a great help.

At the same time, educational centers can also equip the assignee with skills that they need to advance their career. These courses can range from business and technical competencies that they need for their particular line of work, to the soft skills like communications and team leadership that can empower them to expand their sphere of responsibilities.

The happiness factor

With the global business landscape becoming more competitive, it is only expected that assignees will inquire more about the foreign places of employment where they can build a second home and make a difference.

While the usual search can provide them cursory information, global mobility managers will be the ones who will dig deep into presenting them a more comprehensive overview about the many differences of each city, even those of the so-called most preferred expatriate locations. It’d be good for them to know that two Northern California cities made it to the recent Top 10 Happiest Cities list in the US based on a survey.

Being happy is, of course, the ultimate barometer in determining quality of life.