Vienna waltzes to the top of the quality of life rankings

Vienna

The city that has given us Christophe Waltz, Schubert and the wiener (no sniggering at the back), though not, curiously, the Viennese whirl – as this came from Britain –  now finds itself at the top of the quality of life rankings.

Vienna has displaced Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city, ending seven consecutive years at the top of the EIU’s Global Liveability Index. Osaka and Tokyo are meanwhile in the top 10 for the first time, and Hong Kong has overtaken its regional rival Singapore:

  1. Vienna
  2. Melbourne
  3. Osaka
  4. Calgary
  5. Sydney
  6. Vancouver
  7. Toronto
  8. Tokyo
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Adelaide

Before even downloading the report, it had occurred to me that high risers Vienna and Melbourne have something in common: their love of the coffee house. Vienna’s coffee house culture is laden with history and is now UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Melbourne is now arguably the global capital of coffee. Third-placed Osaka also has good coffee – as I recall from visiting Kuromon Market – but it might have some catching up to do.

But coffee or not, it’s hard not to shake off the feeling that this index is for the elite. At the end of the day, these are very expensive cities indeed. Good liveability comes at a high price.

The EIU Global Liveability Index 2018 can be seen here (registration required).

London and Manchester fall down cost of living rankings because of Brexit

Thames and London Eye

Eyeing a move to Britain? London has fallen 18 places down the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living index. The 2017 report shows the UK capital at its lowest position in two decades, to now rank 24th – and Brexit is seen as the cause.

It’s a seismic and symbolic difference; 20 years ago the nation was entering a new era through Blair and Britpop (make of that what you will). Manchester showed an even bigger fall in its cost of living –  the biggest registered in the report – of 25 places to 51st. This may or may not influence foreign players mulling over a Premier League move (the city’s rain might be more a decisive factor).

Singapore meanwhile remains the most expensive city of the 133 measured worldwide by the EIU survey. This makes it marginally more expensive than regional rival Hong Kong and a whopping 20% pricier than New York.

The little red dot and Hong Kong are joined by other Asian cities in the top 10, with Tokyo and Osaka moving up because of the yen, and Seoul continuing to climb the rankings. Incredibly, the Korean metropolis was ranked 50th for Cost of Living just seven years ago:

However, the report also showed that not all Asian cities suffered the same fate. Five cities in China – Beijing, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Dalian – were among the leading ten cities with the biggest fall in ranking over the past 12 months.

As for the opposite end of the scale, Kazakhstan’s Almaty is the cheapest city in the world. The bottom 10 in cost of living includes four cities in India: Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.

While several of these inexpensive locations are also popular expat destinations, for example Mumbai, the EIU glumly notes that “cheaper cities tend also to be less liveable”.  Statistically speaking, that may well be true, but not all situations are equal. Mumbai is known for its inequality gap – it’s very liveable for some.

Deteriorating liveability in cities worldwide, reveals 2016 EIU Global Liveability Ranking

Albert Park, Melbourne (credit: Tim Serong)

Melbourne held on to top spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Global Liveability Ranking – but only just. Vienna was second (97.4), followed by Vancouver (97.3) and Toronto (97.2). Australia and Canada maintained their dominance, accounting for 6 cities in a largely unchanged top 10:

  1. Melbourne
  2. Vienna
  3. Vancouver
  4. Toronto
  5. Calgary
  6. Adelaide
  7. Perth
  8. Auckland
  9. Helsinki
  10. Hamburg

Meanwhile, the Middle East showed the strongest rise in liveability, with Tehran, Dubai and Kuwait City all among the top 5 cities with the biggest improvement. Damascus, however, showed the biggest slump, with a 26.1% fall in liveability.

In fact, worsening liveability was seen in 20% of the cities surveyed, explained by the EIU to be:

largely a result of heightened fears over terrorism with more than 1,000 reported attacks in 2016 so far, with incidents in France, Turkey, the US and Belgium being the most high profile. Factors such as social unrest in many US cities due to the deaths of black people in police custody, tensions in Eastern Europe and Asia and the ongoing civil wars in Ukraine, Syria and Libya have compounded the decline.