The Economist Intelligence Unit’s LIVEABILITY RANKING, part of the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, assesses living conditions in 140 cities around the world by assigning a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. The survey gives an overall rating of 0-100, where 1 is intolerable and 100 is ideal. Any city with a rating of 80 or more will have few, if any, challenges to living standards, while any city with a score of 50 or less will present daily challenges to living standards.
Vienna (Austria) is ranked second, followed by Melbourne (Australia) in third place. Toronto (Canada) has seen a slight improvement in its index, bringing it up to fourth place, from sixth previously. Canadian and Australian cities account for six of the top ten, with Vienna, Helsinki (Finland), Zurich and Geneva (both Switzerland) making up the most liveable destinations surveyed. Cities that score best tend to be mid-sized, in developed countries with a low population density, benefiting from cultural or recreational availability but with lower crime levels or infrastructure problems that can be caused by large populations.
At the other end of the ranking, most of the poorest-performing locations are in Africa or Asia, where civil instability and poor infrastructure present significant challenges (the survey does not include locations such as Afghanistan or Iraq). The prospect of violence, whether through domestic protests, civil war or the threat of foreign incursion, plays a significant role in the poorest-performing cities. This can exacerbate the impact of instability on other key liveability categories, such as infrastructure, healthcare indicators or the availability (or freedom) of certain activities.
- Vancouver remains top with a rating of 98%. Only petty crime and the availability of good-quality housing present any challenges.
- There is little real difference within the top ten. Sydney and Zurich, in joint ninth, each have a score only around 2% lower than that for Vancouver.
- 64 cities achieve scores of more than 80%, while 13 cities occupy the very bottom tier of liveability, where ratings fall below 50%.
With the exception of high scores in Australasia and some Asian centres, most of the better-scoring locations are based in the more developed regions of Western Europe and North America. This is unsurprising, given the implied stability and mature infrastructures offered by the two regions. The West European and North American averages are, respectively, only 5.8% and 6.5% short of top-scoring Vancouver. No city in either region falls below the highest-rated category for liveability, which can give any city a claim to occupy the same tier of liveability as top-scoring Vancouver and Vienna.
Athens (Greece, 63rd) fares worst in Western Europe, with an overall score of 81.2%, failing to match the regional average in any category and suffering from educational and infrastructural challenges similar to less-developed locations. Lexington (US, 59th) fares worst in North America with an overall score of 85.8%. As a much smaller city than many in the US, Lexington scores more highly in terms of stability owing to the lower threat from crime. However, the downside to its smaller size is a lower availability of cultural or recreational activities.
source: The Economist Intelligence Unit