Monocle has announced its Quality of Life Survey for the 11th year running, in which 25 cities worldwide were ranked for liveability. For the third successive year, Tokyo was named most liveable city by the culture mag (here’s something for the conspiracy theorists: Tokyo-based Nikkei Group became a Monocle shareholder three years ago).
The list is a curious mix of hipster favourites such as Berlin and Portland and hyper-expensive sprawls like Hong Kong (ranked second by Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey) and of course Tokyo (ranked third in the same survey), making it a mashup that would likely appeal to both the monied elite and counterculturalists. Which begs the question: should it really be called a Quality of Life Survey?
The rundown in full:
15. Hong Kong
Asia remains an attractive place for work opportunities in 2017, especially amidst Brexit uncertainty and what not, but several of its more established expat destinations are also proving the most expensive anywhere in the world, relative to New York.
The latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer shows that Asia’s financial hubs Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore are among the top 5 priciest locations worldwide, with Shanghai and Seoul also appearing in the top 10. This won’t be a surprise to many; there has been plenty of media coverage lately over the astronomical cost of housing in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Top of Mercer’s survey of more than 400 cities, however, is a destination considerably less iconic than Asia’s shiny metropolises – Luanda:
- Hong Kong
- New York
The Angolan capital, still more likely to be the subject of a pub quiz question than rolling off the tongue of your average traveller, has seen increased demand for quality housing against a limited supply through expats pouring in over the past decade.
With Luanda also lording over the list in 2014 and 2015, like a perennial Champions League winner, it’s unlikely that other cities – microapartments and all – will knock it off its perch any time soon.
Another world city, London, has meanwhile seen a plunge in its cost of living to 30th place from 17th. Unsurprisingly Brexit is named as the cause of this, because of the pound weakening before and after the EU referendum. This comes after a similar report in March from the EIU showed a fall in London’s cost of living.
We’ve Wien here before. Vienna once more tops Mercer’s annual Quality of Living survey, for the 8th year in a row, coming ahead of six other European cities in the top 10:
According to Mercer, the data was largely analysed between September and November 2016. Regionally, Vancouver is the city with the highest quality of living in the Americas, Singapore is top in Asia-Pacific, and Dubai is highest in Africa and the Middle East.
Alongside the 2017 survey, a city infrastructure ranking was awarded that assessed things like access to electricity, phone and mail services, as well as public transportation, traffic congestion and the rage of international flights from local airports. Singapore – also a sovereign state, as well as a city – was named best worldwide for infrastructure. This might not be a surprise: Changi is announced year after year as the world’s best airport.
Looking at the top 10 list, all of these cities have something in common…but I can’t quite put my finger on it. They have smaller populations (London, while not enormous, is 40th for Quality of Living) and are relatively unhurried. Could it be the presence of mountains? Austria, Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany and Canada, all with snow-capped peaks, have cities in the top five. (I’m only half-joking.)
They also offer a degree of consistency. Barring disaster, Vienna will be the world’s best in 2018, and cities in Nordic countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will again show high rankings. European cities will continue to dominate the rankings, even amidst political and economic turbulence.