Vienna named world’s top city for quality of life, find out your city ranking!

Vienna is the world’s best city to live in; Baghdad is the worst, and London, Paris and New York do not even make it into the top 35, according to international research into quality of life.

German-speaking cities dominate the rankings in the 18th Mercer Quality of Life study, with Vienna joined by Zurich, Munich, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt in the top seven.

Paris has tumbled down the league, falling 10 places to 37th, just ahead of London at 39th, almost entirely because of the city’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

The study examined social and economic conditions, health, education, housing and the environment, and is used by big companies to assess where they should locate and how much they should pay staff.

Viennese-born Helena Hartlauer, 32, said she was not surprised at her city’s top position. The municipality’s social democratic government has a long tradition of investing in high-quality social housing, making Vienna almost uniquely affordable among major cities.

 Paris has dropped 10 places to 37th. Photograph: Alamy
Paris has dropped 10 places to 37th. Photograph: Alamy

“I live in a 100sq metre turn-of-the-century apartment in a good area about 20 minutes’ walk into the city centre. But my rent is just €800 (£625) a month.” An equivalent apartment in London would cost upwards of £2,000, and even more in New York, ranked 44th in the table.

US cities perform relatively poorly in the study, largely because of issues around personal safety and crime. The highest ranking city in the US is San Francisco, at 28th; Boston is 34th. Canadian cities, led by Vancouver, far outrank their US rivals in the table.

“You don’t realise how safe Vienna is until you head abroad,” said Hartlauer. “We also have terrific public transport, with the underground working 24 hours at weekends, and it only costs €1 per trip.”

 New York is ranked No 44 on the index. Photograph: Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis
New York is ranked No 44 on the index. Photograph: Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis

Vienna benefited enormously from the fall of the Berlin Wall, becoming the gateway to eastern European countries that often have historic ties to the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

“Our big USP is our geographic location,” said Martin Eichtinger, Austrian ambassdaor to London, who lived in Vienna for 20 years. “The fall of the Berlin Wall helped define Vienna as the hub for companies wanting to do business in central Europe.”

Revellers outside a bar in Zurich, which ranked second. Photograph: Alamy
Revellers outside a bar in Zurich, which ranked second. Photograph: Alamy

According to the World Bank, Austria has one of the highest figures for GDP per head in the world, just behind the US and ahead of Germany and Britain, although quite some way below neighbouring Switzerland.

Zurich in Switzerland is named by Mercer as having the world’s second highest quality of life, but the Viennese say their city is far more fun. “There are more students in Vienna than any other German-speaking city,” said Hartlauer. “It’s a very fast growing, young and lively city,” she added – though she conceded she works for the city’s tourist board.

Vienna has long been overlooked by British weekend city break tourists, who instead flock to Barcelona or Berlin and tend to think of Austria as somewhere for skiing, lakes and mountains.

Hyde Park, London. The city has never been in Mercer’s quality-of-life top 10. Photograph: Alamy

But after an increase in budget flights from regional British cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh, Vienna is fast catching up as a popular destination. In 2015 there were 588,000 British visitors to Vienna, up 18% on the year before. The flow is both ways; Eichtinger said London has become the No 1 city destination for Austrian visitors.

“Vienna has ranked top in the last seven published rankings,” said Mercer. “It scores highly in a number of categories; it provides a safe and stable environment to live in, a high level of public utilities and transport facilities, and good recreational facilities.”

The European migrant crisis, which has seen large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers pass through Vienna en route to Germany, has had little impact on the city of nearly 1.8 million people, said Eichtinger. “We have managed to accommodate 90,000 refugees in Austria, but the numbers have slowed in recent months.”

 The view from Mount Eden, Auckland, the highest ranking English-speaking city in the survey. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex
The view from Mount Eden, Auckland, the highest ranking English-speaking city in the survey. Photograph: Image Broker/Rex

London has never been in the quality-of-life top 10, says Mercer, damaged by its poor scores for air pollution, traffic congestion and climate. After London, Edinburgh is the next-ranking British city, in 46th place.

Paris has suffered the biggest fall in this year’s rankings. “Paris has remained stable for several years but has this year dropped 10 places overall in the overall ranking,” said Mercer.

“The drop was essentially due to the terrorist attacks in 2015, however, it is important to highlight that safety issues are a very highly weighted factor within the ‘basket’ so any small adjustments can have a big impact on the ranking.”

 Carnival revellers in Port-au-Prince. The quake-stricken Haitian capital was among the worst-ranked cities. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP
Carnival revellers in Port-au-Prince. The quake-stricken Haitian capital was among the worst-ranked cities. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

Auckland in New Zealand was the highest ranking English-speaking city in the survey, in third place, followed by Vancouver in fifth. Australian cities also perform very highly in the survey, with Sydney 10th and Melbourne 15th. The Economist has consistently ranked Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city, although its survey has been criticised as too Anglocentric.

War and political unrest are behind all the worst-ranked cities in the world. Surprisingly, Damascus is named as only the seventh worst, ranked better than not just Baghdad but also Bangui in Central African Republic, Sana’a in Yemen, Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Khartoum in Sudan, and N’Djamena in Chad.

(The Guardian)

Best places to live in the world
Source: Mercer quality of living city survey

Rank 2015 City Country
1 Vienna Austria
2 Zurich Switzerland
3 Auckland New Zealand
4 Munich Germany
5 Vancouver Canada
6 Dusseldorf Germany
7 Frankfurt Germany
8 Geneva Switzerland
9 Copenhagen Denmark
10 Sydney Australia
11 Amsterdam Netherlands
12 Wellington New Zealand
13 Berlin Germany
14 Bern Switzerland
15 Toronto Canada
15 Melbourne Australia
17 Ottawa Canada
18 Hamburg Germany
19 Luxembourg Luxembourg
19 Stockholm Sweden
21 Brussels Belgium
21 Perth Australia
23 Montreal Canada
24 Stuttgart Germany
24 Nurnberg Germany
26 Singapore Singapore
27 Adelaide Australia
28 San Francisco US
28 Canberra Australia
30 Helsinki Finland
30 Oslo Norway
32 Calgary Canada
33 Dublin Ireland
34 Boston US
35 Honolulu US
36 Brisbane Australia
37 Paris France
38 Lyon France
39 Barcelona Spain
39 London UK
41 Milan Italy
42 Lisbon Portugal
43 Chicago US
44 New York US
44 Tokyo Japan
46 Seattle US
46 Kobe Japan
46 Edinburgh UK
49 Los Angeles US
49 Yokohama Japan
51 Washington DC US
52 Madrid Spain
53 Birmingham UK
53 Rome Italy
55 Glasgow UK
56 Pittsburgh US
57 Philadelphia US
58 Osaka Japan
59 Aberdeen UK
60 Leipzig Germany
61 Minneapolis US
62 Nagoya Japan
63 Dallas US
64 Belfast UK
65 Houston US
66 Miami US
67 Atlanta US
68 St. Louis US
69 Prague Czech Republic
70 Detroit US
70 Hong Kong Hong Kong
72 Pointe-a-Pitre Guadeloupe
73 Seoul South Korea
74 San Juan Puerto Rico
75 Dubai United Arab Emirates
76 Ljubljana Slovenia
77 Budapest Hungary
78 Montevideo Uruguay
79 Vilnius Lithuania
79 Warsaw Poland
81 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
82 Bratislava Slovakia
83 Port Louis Mauritius
84 Taipei Taiwan
85 Durban South Africa
86 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
87 Athens Greece
88 Limassol Cyprus
89 Tallinn Estonia
90 Riga Latvia
91 Busan South Korea
92 Cape Town South Africa
93 Buenos Aires Argentina
94 Santiago Chile
95 Johannesburg South Africa
96 Panama City Panama
97 Victoria Seychelles
98 Zagreb Croatia
99 Wroclaw Poland
100 Taichung Taiwan
101 Shanghai China
102 Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
103 Johor Bahru Malaysia
104 Tel Aviv Israel
105 San Jose Costa Rica
106 Brasilia Brazil
107 Muscat Oman
108 Monterrey Mexico
109 Bucharest Romania
110 Doha Qatar
111 Noumea New Caledonia
112 Nassau Bahamas
113 Tunis Tunisia
114 Asuncion Paraguay
115 Sofia Bulgaria
116 Rabat Morocco
117 Rio De Janeiro Brazil
118 Beijing China
119 Guangzhou China
120 Amman Jordan
121 Sao Paulo Brazil
122 Istanbul Turkey
123 Lima Peru
124 Kuwait City Kuwait
125 Manaus Brazil
126 Casablanca Morocco
127 Mexico City Mexico
128 Quito Ecuador
129 Bangkok Thailand
130 Bogota Colombia
131 Windhoek Namibia
132 Colombo Sri Lanka
133 Manama Bahrain
134 Chengdu China
135 Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
136 Manila Philippines
137 Nanjing China
137 Shenzhen China
139 Hyderabad India
139 Xian China
141 Belgrade Serbia
142 Jakarta Indonesia
142 Gaborone Botswana
144 Pune India
145 Bengaluru India
146 Chongqing China
147 Port of Spain Trinidad & Tobago
147 Qingdao China
149 Lusaka Zambia
150 Chennai India
151 Kingston Jamaica
152 Guatemala City Guatemala
152 Mumbai India
152 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
155 Hanoi Vietnam
156 La Paz Bolivia
157 Shenyang China
158 Sarajevo Bosnia-Herzegovina
159 Skopje Macedonia
160 Kolkata India
161 New Delhi India
162 Dakar Senegal
163 Libreville Gabon
164 Riyadh Saudi Arabia
165 Jeddah Saudi Arabia
166 Accra Ghana
167 Moscow Russia
168 Jilin China
169 Kampala Uganda
170 Vientiane Laos
171 Cairo Egypt
172 Managua Nicaragua
173 San Salvador El Salvador
174 St. Petersburg Russia
175 Blantyre Malawi
176 Almaty Kazakhstan
176 Kiev Ukraine
178 Maputo Mozambique
179 Tirana Albania
180 Beirut Lebanon
181 Cotonou Benin
182 Yerevan Armenia
183 Banjul Gambia
184 Nairobi Kenya
185 Caracas Venezuela
186 Tegucigalpa Honduras
187 Algiers Algeria
188 Tbilisi Georgia
189 Djibouti Djibouti
190 Minsk Belarus
191 Kigali Rwanda
191 Havana Cuba
193 Islamabad Pakistan
194 Yaounde Cameroon
195 Phnom Penh Cambodia
196 Douala Cameroon
197 Baku Azerbaijan
198 Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
199 Lahore Pakistan
199 Luanda Angola
201 Yangon Myanmar
202 Karachi Pakistan
203 Tehran Iran
204 Lome Togo
205 Tashkent Uzbekistan
206 Abidjan Ivory Coast
207 Addis Ababa Ethiopia
208 Ashgabat Turkmenistan
209 Harare Zimbabwe
210 Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
211 Lagos Nigeria
212 Abuja Nigeria
212 Dushanbe Tajikistan
214 Dhaka Bangladesh
215 Ouagadougou Burkina Faso
216 Tripoli Libya
217 Niamey Niger
218 Antananarivo Madagascar
219 Bamako Mali
220 Nouakchott Mauritania
221 Conakry Guinea Republic
222 Kinshasa DR Congo
223 Brazzaville Congo
224 Damascus Syria
225 N’Djamena Chad
226 Khartoum Sudan
227 Port-au-Prince Haiti
228 Sana’a Yemen
229 Bangui Central African Republic
230 Baghdad Iraq

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