Monday, 03 July 2017 17:54

Comparing Our Cities

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Creating a quality of living index for Vietnam.

Every year, Mercer releases its quality of living index. Based on a number of pre-set criteria, the index lists which cities offer the best quality of life. The results are used by a number of multinationals when looking at investment decisions.

 

The most recent index, released in March 2017, puts Ho Chi Minh City at a measly 152nd out of 231 major cities, below the likes of Lusaka (Zambia), Jakarta, Manila, Mexico City, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore, which finished 25th, and Johannesburg. Hanoi scores an even worse 156th on the rankings, meaning that Vietnam just isn’t that nice a place to live.

 

Naturally we don’t agree as I’m sure most people reading this enjoy living in Vietnam. So, we’ve decided to put together our own quality of living index based on the criteria provided by Mercer. Each category is marked out of 10.

 

1) Political and Social Environment

 

According to Mercer, this includes political stability (in Vietnam, very stable), crime (depends on the city) and law enforcement.

 

Hanoi: 8

Ho Chi Minh City: 6

Danang: 8

 

2) Economic Environment

 

Mercer bases its scores on currency exchange regulations and banking services. Both are still strongly regulated in Vietnam, although it’s probably easier to get a loan or a mortgage in Vietnam right now than it is in most countries in the West.

 

Hanoi: 5

Ho Chi Minh City: 6

Danang: 5

 

3) Socio-Cultural Environment

 

This category looks at media availability, censorship, and limitations on personal freedom. Vietnam hasn’t bought into the nanny-state concept that has been knocking down Western societies like dominoes. So, on the personal freedoms level, this country excels. Likewise, media availability is widespread although there is still a fair amount of censorship.

 

Hanoi: 8

Ho Chi Minh City: 9

Danang: 7

 

4) Medical and Health Considerations

 

This is where Vietnam takes a beating. Dengue fever is a constant threat, while the lack of quality healthcare (unless you can afford it) is an immense issue. Motorbike accidents are an ever-present threat and poor air quality has perhaps the biggest impact on the quality of life in Vietnam’s big cities now. Which is why in this category, Danang scores highest.

 

Hanoi: 5

Ho Chi Minh City: 5

Danang: 7

 

5) Schools and Education

 

Mercer focuses its report on international schools, so we will do the same and certainly, when it comes to volume, Ho Chi Minh City excels.

 

Hanoi: 6

Ho Chi Minh City: 8

Danang: 3

 

6) Public Services and Transportation

 

This category looks at the quality of utilities provision as well as transportation. Except for the lack of a metro system (made up for by the large number of taxis and xe oms out there), Vietnam performs well.

 

Hanoi: 8

Ho Chi Minh City: 8

Danang: 8

 

7) Recreation

 

Since nightlife in Vietnam is so focused on eating and drinking, one of the country’s favourite pastimes, there has been a lack of development in alternatives, although this has changed over the past five years. Hanoi scores highest because of the city’s parks and lakes.

 

Hanoi: 9

Ho Chi Minh City: 8

Danang: 7

 

8) Consumer Goods

 

This is another area where Vietnam struggles, as anything imported that is deemed to be ‘luxury’ comes with a considerable excise duty. Which means that many shoppers tend to do a lot of their spending overseas.

 

Hanoi: 6

Ho Chi Minh City: 6

Danang: 4

 

9) Housing

 

This category includes rental housing, household appliances, furniture and maintenance services, and is a category where Vietnam performs relatively well. Add to this the low cost of rental (certainly compared to most other cities on this planet), and we think Vietnam should score quite high.

 

Hanoi: 9

Ho Chi Minh City: 9

Danang: 8

 

10) Natural Environment

 

This focuses on the climate and the country’s record of natural disasters. Except for the annual storms from October to December, climate-wise Danang is far superior to its rivals to the north and south. As inhabitants of Hanoi and Saigon know all too well, when it’s hot, it’s brutal. As for natural disasters, although flooding is an issue, none of these cities is really affected (for the time being) by rising sea levels or earthquakes.

 

Hanoi: 6

Ho Chi Minh City: 6

Danang: 9

 

The Results

 

As we can see, there are many areas where Vietnam needs to improve, at least in the eyes of Mercer. Yet, when it comes down to personal freedom and nightlife, Vietnam excels.

 

So, onto the results.

 

Hanoi: 70

Ho Chi Minh City: 69

Danang: 66

 

By a mere point, the best city to live in is Hanoi!

Last modified on Monday, 03 July 2017 17:58
Nick Ross

Chief editor and co-founder of Word Vietnam, Nick Ross was born in the humble city of London before moving to the less humble climes of Vietnam. His wanderings have taken him to definitely not enough corners of the globe, but being a constant optimist, he still has hopes.

twitter.com/nickrossvietnam
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