Singapore has slipped from 18th to 21st spot in London-based lifestyle and global-affairs magazine Monocle’s list of the world’s 25 most liveable cities.
The magazine’s editorial team, comprising editors and correspondents from news agencies worldwide, felt that Singapore was lagging behind other cities as its neighbourhoods lacked a sense of community and its people did not have a good work-life balance.
Monocle editor-in-chief Tyler Brule said the key reason for Singapore’s slide was that “some cities are simply doing a better job”.
It could focus on having a “better work-life balance and flexible work arrangements”, Monocle said, citing Singapore’s low rankings in global indices measuring happiness.
Nonetheless, Singapore “still packs a punch as the powerhouse of South-east Asia”, the magazine said.
The city has beefed up its entertainment options with the opening of two integrated resorts, and deserves praise for top medical facilities, a well-educated population and being “reassuringly free of social strife with low crime rates”, it added.
Singapore remains one of only four Asian cities to get a foothold on the list, which is in its fourth year. Singapore was 17th in 2007 and 22nd in 2008.
The other Asian cities are in Japan.
Like last year, two were ranked ahead of Singapore: Tokyo came in fourth and Fukuoka took the 14th spot. Kyoto came in two places behind Singapore.
Munich emerged victorious as the world’s most liveable city this year, with Copenhagen maintaining last year’s No. 2 spot. Zurich fell from No. 1 last year to third place this year.
The only new entry, the American city of Portland in Oregon state, came in at 22. Amsterdam was the only city to drop out of the list.
Mr Brule said that this “noticeable lack of reshuffling” was partly because many large improvement projects were put on hold, thanks to the recession.
The editorial team selects cities based on 20 criteria, such as the number of hours of sunshine in a city and its public-transport system.
Bank executive Nathaniel Teo, 25, disagreed with the findings, saying that companies here have been active in promoting a good work-life balance.
For example, his company offered a recruitment package that included a free gym membership.
He said: “This made the job offer more attractive because there was an emphasis on work-life balance.”
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser from the National University of Singapore’s sociology department said: “Happiness is a measure of quality of life. A high standard of living and good infrastructure does not guarantee good quality of life.”
Singaporeans should try to work smart, he said, adding: “I doubt we have the option of slowing down, if we want to enhance – or even just maintain – our current standard of living.”