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.

London more innovative than Silicon Valley, reveals 2thinknow report

London at dusk

London is the most innovative city in the world for the second year running, according to innovation data agency 2thinknow – and Brexit apparently has something to do with it (oddly enough).

The  10th annual Innovation Cities Data index shows the UK capital ahead of New York, Tokyo and Silicon Valley (San Francisco-San Jose) in the top 4:

The Melbourne consultancy classified 500 cities into four innovation “bands”, or conditions conducive to creating innovation in a city: ‘Nexus’, ‘Hub’,  ‘Node’ and ‘Upstart’.

On London’s regained place at the top, 2thinknow’s Director of Data Christopher Hire suggested that Brexit had a part to play, or at least the democratic process :

London’s clear repeat victory indicates a strong view of innovation and focus on observation of democracy, in embracing the results of ‘Brexit’ – showcasing the importance of an orderly acceptance of the results of democratic process, and a new British ‘stiff upper lip’ resilience to unprecedented change.

Embracing results? A new British ‘stiff upper lip’? I think he’s being kind!

But the EU may yet have the final say, with Austrian and French capitals also in the top 10 and marked by Hire as ones to watch:

Vienna and Paris have a long history of resurgence and innovation, so we shouldn’t rule out their eventual climb to number one global city in a few years, proving that innovation can come from cities all over the world.”

London perceived as the world’s best city, PwC report shows

London phone box

City rankings are all the rage these days. This year we have seen surveys from Mercer, the EIU and Monocle. Any day now, I’m expecting to see the World’s Best Cities to Celebrate the Festive Season (with the likes of Vienna emerging top again).

Most recently, PwC have joined the throng, revealing the world’s Best Cities as voted for by the public across a range of factors such as politics, food, happiness, culture and business. The report was conducted in collaboration with BAV Consulting, polling 5,200 decision makers, informed elites and other members of the public from 16 countries (I’m not sure why so few countries were targeted) in December 2015.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the so-called “world cities” that dominate international affairs and fill column inches that have won most recognition. They have a left an imprint on the public consciousness.

London (which enjoys by far most media attention in the UK) is seen as the world’s greatest city, with perennial superbrands Paris and New York completing the top three:

    1. London
    2. Paris
    3. New York
    4. Amsterdam
    5. Sydney
    6. Berlin
    7. Tokyo
    8. Toronto
    9. Stockholm
    10. Los Angeles

It’s hard to see London displaced any time soon. Brexit is unlikely to hurt London’s ranking, a question posed by PwC in their report. The UK capital has a history of battling through crises. More than anything, its capacity to remain resilient and reinvent itself throughput the years underlines its appeal, like all successful brands.

Yet while the traditional triumvirate are seen as the most influential, they might not necessarily be the most liveable cities. Young people are keen to move away from expensive cities, and from London in particular.

PwC’s findings are especially interesting as a report was released in parallel showing how cities were performing in “reality”, based on hard facts instead of perception. The report, Cities of Opportunity, showed that while London came top again, Singapore and Toronto emerged second and third best, respectively:

  1. London
  2. Singapore
  3. Toronto
  4. Paris
  5. Amsterdam
  6. New York
  7. Stockholm
  8. San Francisco
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Sydney

It appears that Hong Kong and Singapore have an image problem!