These 54 cities are more “liveable” than London and New York

Melbourne: what liveability looks like.
Melbourne: what liveability looks like.
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest “liveability” ranking is out, and it won’t make for happy reading in the world’s biggest business centers. The rankings are intended to measure the relative comfort of 140 cities where expat executives might conceivably find themselves living or visiting. (This means that conflict hot spots such as Baghdad and Kabul are excluded.) Companies often use the scores to calculate “hardship” allowances given to employees sent to work there.

Thus, what’s “liveable” isn’t necessarily the same as what’s the most vibrant or exciting (which might come with some element of danger or inconvenience). That’s why big, crowded cities such as New York and London rank so far down the list—55th and 56th, respectively. “All suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than would be deemed comfortable,” the EIU says.

As in previous editions of the rankings, cities in Australia and Canada dominate—Melbourne was at the top for the fourth year in a row. Medium-sized cities in sparsely-populated developed countries are at an advantage in the EIU’s methodology, because they “foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.” Vienna, Helsinki, and Auckland round out the non-Australian and Canadian cities in the latest top 10.

That said, every one of the top 64 cities scores high enough for a place in the top tier of liveability, and “should be considered broadly comparable,” according to the EIU. The research firm suggests that no extra payment should be needed to entice an expat moving to any of these cities, from Melbourne in first place to Santiago, Chile in 64th. By contrast, at least 20% of salary is recommended as a hardship allowance for expats dispatched to cities in the bottom tier, including Harare, Karachi, or Damascus.

Still, even if the margin between Melbourne in first place and New York in 56th place is relatively small (10.9 percentage points on a 100-point scale, to be exact), what’s compelling about the report is its definitive ranking of cities. With that in mind, here is the list of all 54 cities deemed more “liveable” than London and New York:

  1. Melbourne
  2. Vienna
  3. Vancouver
  4. Toronto
  5. Adelaide
  6. Calgary
  7. Sydney
  8. Helsinki
  9. Perth
  10. Auckland
  11. Zurich
  12. Geneva
  13. Osaka
  14. Hamburg
  15. Stockholm
  16. Montreal
  17. Paris
  18. Frankfurt
  19. Tokyo
  20. Brisbane
  21. Berlin
  22. Copenhagen
  23. Wellington
  24. Oslo
  25. Luxembourg
  26. Amsterdam
  27. Honolulu
  28. Brussels
  29. Munich
  30. Pittsburgh
  31. Hong Kong
  32. Dusseldorf
  33. Lyon
  34. Barcelona
  35. Washington DC
  36. Atlanta
  37. Chicago
  38. Miami
  39. Detroit
  40. Boston
  41. Seattle
  42. Los Angeles
  43. Minneapolis
  44. Madrid
  45. Cleveland
  46. Dublin
  47. Houston
  48. Milan
  49. Rome
  50. Budapest
  51. Manchester
  52. San Francisco
  53. Singapore
  54. Reykjavik
  55. London
  56. New York