By Cliff D'Arcy
In a new survey of the world's best cities, London is the only UK entry in the top 50. So, where are the best places to live?
Every year, consulting group Mercer releases its annual Quality of Living Survey. This survey ranks the world's cities using a wide range of useful criteria, to reflect the quality of living in those cities, so that global firms can fairly recompense any employee they send abroad.
What makes a great city?
The 2010 report is now out, covering 221 of the world's capital and major cities. The firm's worldwide rankings are produced using 39 factors in ten categories, including:
1. Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement)
2. Economic environment (currency-exchange regulations, banking services)
3. Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
4. Health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution)
5. Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools)
6. Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion)
7. Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure)
8. Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars)
9. Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
10. Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)
Mercer produces individual reports for each country and then ranks them in order, using New York City as its baseline with a score of 100. Its latest report was compiled between September and November 2009.
Bad news for Brits
The disappointing news for the UK is that only one of our cities -- London -- makes it into the top 50 in Mercer's list of the most desirable places to live.
Here's where the UK's leading cities appear in Mercer's list (plus Dublin, for comparison):
London scored 101.6 on Mercer's ranking, making it a better place to live than Tokyo (in 40th place), Milan (41), Barcelona (44), Chicago (45), Madrid (48) and NYC (49).
The 20 best places to live
According to Mercer, these are the 20 best cities in which to live:
As you can see, the clean, safe and wealthy cities of Vienna, Zurich and Geneva top this list. On a country-by-country basis, Germany has 4 entries in this top 20; Canada and Switzerland have three apiece; Australia and New Zealand two each; and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden each have one entry.
I have to admit that this chimes with my own experience of living and travelling abroad. But one criticism that I think could be levelled against some of the cities shown above is that they are ‘boring'. In other words, while I think they are fun to visit, I'd imagine that living there for years could be somewhat dull. Then again, expats and international workers often prefer to live in such cities to lower their stress levels, so this stability is no bad thing for them.
We should count our blessings
The lowest-scoring city in Mercer's survey (in 221st) place was Baghdad, the war-torn capital of Iraq, with a score of just 14.7. Often, cities fared poorly in the rankings because of political instability, economic woes, high levels of crime, poor sanitation, energy shortages and other problems.
Friday, 28 May 2010
Posted by MANUEL DE ARAÚJO at Friday, May 28, 2010