Canada, Australia have world’s most liveable cities, says EIU

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has unveiled, to no real surprise perhaps, that Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world, for the 5th year running. The news comes days after ECA International’s Cost of Living survey was revealed for 2015 (showing very different results, interestingly enough). The Australian city is joined in their top 5 by Vienna, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Adelaide, with seven of the top 10 accounted for by cities in Australia and Canada:

If you’re young and fancy a move to one of these places, however, you might be put off by high living costs:

The EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking is not the only quality of living index, of course, with the likes of Mercer and Monocle magazine offering very different perspectives (hello Tokyo):

Ultimately, liveability is entirely subjective. If you’re young and into tech, you might be more cheerful in a city like San Francisco. People with families will prefer Singapore over Bangkok, while young professionals might be more motivated living in a Chinese city. London continues to divide opinion.

Where would you rather be?

Is going to university a wise decision? Experts have their say

Oxford University students

UK students have now received A Level and GCSE exam results, and the debate has turned to university entry, and whether this is, in fact, a sensible option for young people. It’s a debate set to rumble on and on:

What is without doubt is that there is more than one option. In the unlikely event that you are reading this now, and considering going to university, think this through carefully. Be strategic; there is more than one path available. Look at Pete Cashmere of Mashable fame; he started his website while living with his parents in Scotland at the age of 19. He’s worth…quite a lot, I should think.
You don’t have to limit yourself to work and/or study in the UK even – why not pack your bags and teach or join a startup overseas? It may out work cheaper and deliver more exciting prospects further down the line. More on this another time.

Angkor Wat is world’s top travel destination, says Lonely Planet

Backpacker favourite Lonely Planet has just unveiled its top 500 travel destinations. The extraordinary Angkor complex near Siem Reap in Cambodia is the world’s best, with the full top 20 as follows (drum roll):

  1. Angkor ruins, Cambodia
  2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  3. Machu Picchu, Peru
  4. Great Wall of China
  5. Taj Mahal, India
  6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
  7. Colosseum, Italy
  8. Iguacu Falls, Argentina/Brazil (or is it Brazil/Argentina?)
  9. Alhambra, Spain
  10. Ayasofya, Turkey
  11. Fez Medina, Morocco
  12. Twelve Apostles, Australia
  13. Petra, Jordan
  14. Tikal, Guatemala
  15. British Museum, UK
  16. Sagrada Familia, Spain
  17. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
  18. Santorini, Greece
  19. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
  20. Museum of Old & New Art, Australia

The “Ultimate Travelist” was created by a team of Lonely Planet experts and authors to form a new book.

Do you agree with the experts? Which is top of your bucket list?

Makerspaces have the makings of a revolution

Makespace makerspace in Malaysia

It promises to be the most exciting technological revolution since the early days of the web (1990s), when everything still felt possible (long before the days of cat pictures, angry tweets and social media ninjas). It’s the makerspace, also known as a hackspace, and If I were a betting man (I’m not), I would put money on this new wave of experimentation producing another Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps a Generation-Z social entrepreneur putting people before profits.

Across the world, like-minded people are toying with new models, machines and tools in community spaces, resulting in the birth of exciting new solutions to problems. I visited such a space in Kuala Lumpur, located within a shopping mall, not too far from a supermarket and other symbols of the 20th century.

Makespace is promoted as a free co-working space for makers and maker wannabes. While windowless, with malfunctioning air conditioning, it was easy to visualise its potential: it was big (you could imagine that, in the past, this might have been a bar or club buried within a mall), with sufficient capacity to accommodate different interests. On the day of my visit, there were young people rehearsing a play and a few laptops were open, while other groups were busy doing other things (not sure what exactly). There was also free Wi-Fi and soon (I heard) there will be coffee.

As I see it, makerspaces are the beginnings of a movement that, combined with the internet, can finally deliver us from the tyranny of the 9-5. Also, with so much discord around at the moment, perhaps we’re all better off tinkering in the shed than loudly protesting on the streets (which doesn’t bring about meaningful change, since the 1% is here to stay and they’re very happy with their lot, thank you very much). We might discover smarter and fairer ways of doing things, and enjoy ourselves and each other’s company in the process. It could be a rallying cry of the 2020s: Makespace, not war.

Popular 2015-16 “gap year” destinations revealed

Iconic backpacker destination Thailand has slipped down the rankings among “gap year” countries popular with young British travellers, according to UK travel industry association ABTA, with English-speaking Australia, NZ and the US occupying the top three spots this year. Vietnam has risen from eighth to fifth in popularity. “Gap year” students are also reportedly looking for work experience and volunteering opportunities. Here’s the new top 10:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. USA
  4. Peru
  5. Vietnam
  6. Thailand
  7. Canada
  8. Brazil
  9. Argentina
  10. India

The “gap year” is a major undertaking not to be taken lightly, so here are different points of view dredged from Twitter: