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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on February 18, 2019 - February 24, 2019

Singapore is listed as the top destination in Asia-Pacific for millennials to relocate for career opportunities, according to ValueChampion’s Top 5 Millennial–Friendly Cities in Asia-Pacific, published on Feb 5.

The city state is followed by Tokyo, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Melbourne in the study by the international consumer group, which is based on economic and social factors such as employment prospects, cost of living and quality of life, which includes pollution levels.

“Singapore’s robust economy makes it a great place for young people to find jobs with startups and other employers,” says ValueChampion Singapore senior analyst William Hoffman in an email.

“Our analysis indicates that Singapore’s thriving economy provides strong job opportunities for young people. For example, the city had the highest gross domestic product per capita (S$79,000 or RM237,000) and the second lowest unemployment rates (2.2% total, 3.96% for youth) of the 20 cities that we studied. It suggests that individuals living in Singapore may find it relatively easier to find good paying jobs,” says Hoffman.

“Additionally, Singapore’s low levels of pollution and high safety ratings make it a great place for anyone to call home,” he adds.

Meanwhile, second-placed Tokyo has a good balance between a strong economy, reasonable cost of living and nice living environment. Japan’s unemployment rate is 2.5% and GDP per capita is among the highest at S$53,000. “Additionally, we estimate that residents spend less of their income on rent, compared with residents of other cities, at 27%,” notes Hoffman.

In third place is Hong Kong, thanks to its strong economy. It has a low level of unemployment (2.8% total, 8.12% for youth) and a high GDP per capita of about S$63,000, according to the study. Hong Kong appears to be a healthy city, given its incredibly high life expectancy (84.2 years) and low child mortality rate (0.27%).

“On the other hand, Hong Kong is still quite expensive. We estimate that residents spend about 31% of their income on rent, which represents a relatively high financial burden for young people,” says Hoffman.

Guangzhou came in fourth in the ranking due to its low cost of living. “The city was one of the most affordable cities in our review. For example, the average cost of a pint of beer in Guangzhou is just S$1.22, and we estimate the average resident spends only 22% of their income on rent. Unfortunately, for residents of Guangzhou, pollution is relatively high compared to other cities in our study,”  he notes.

At the No 5 spot is Melbourne. Its low level of pollution and high ranking by the Global Peace Index suggests it is a good city to live in. “Melbourne appears to be a relatively affordable place to live. We estimate that residents spend about 20% of their income on rent, on average. The downside of life in Melbourne is that unemployment rates in Australia are higher (5% overall, 12.49% for youth) than those in other countries on our list,” says Hoffman.

“After adjusting per capita GDP, we estimate that the cost of living is the lowest in Seoul and Guangzhou where entertainment and rent are relatively inexpensive.

“Meanwhile, Singapore and Melbourne topped our list for high quality of life due to their low pollution, strong health indicators and high level of safety,” he explains.

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