The most liveable cities in the world

I like my cities a little rough around the edges. Dirty history but teeming with intellect – a bit of blood, tears and danger builds character. Like New York, London, Athens, Bangkok and Delhi.

Travel does that to you. Makes you flirt with the dark side. But these days I like to live in a safer place. If you’re travelling around looking for somewhere else to live, how about these most liveable cities in the world:

The New Zealand city of Auckland (pictured left) outranks every major Australian city and almost all cities in the world in a quality of life survey. Auckland has been rated the third-best place in the world to live in Mercer’s annual survey.

Mercer, a global human resources company, surveys 420 cities around the world and rates 221 cities of them in categories, including  political and social environment, economics,  censorship, limitations on personal freedom, health and sanitation, education, public services and transportation, recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure), housing and natural environment.

Auckland is a vibrant and busy harbour city, home to 1.3 million people, including a large  population of Polynesians. It’s New Zealand’s largest city by far, and sprawls over a narrow isthmus between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours. More info:

The survey is for liveable qualities, but is also a good guide about what to expect when you visit.

The top five for 2011 are: Vienna, Austria (pictured above); Zurich, Switzerland; Auckland, New Zealand; Munich, Germany; Vancouver, Canada tied 5th with Dusseldorf, Germany. Sydney, where I live, rated 11th, Wellington was 13th and my former hometown of Athens didn’t make it into the Top 50.

European cities represent over half the cities among the top 25 in the ranking. London (38) is the highest-ranking UK city and is followed by Birmingham (52), Aberdeen (54) and Glasgow (56). Belfast (63) is the lowest-ranking of the UK cities that Mercer surveys.

Globally, the cities with the lowest quality of living are Khartoum, Sudan (217), Port-au-Prince, Haiti (218), NDjamena, Chad (219), and Bangui, Central African Republic (220). Poor old Baghdad, Iraq (pictured below) at 221 ranks last on Mercer’s table.

Mercer also surveys the cities for personal safety. Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, says: “The top-ranking cities for personal safety and security are in politically stable countries with good international relations and relatively sustainable economic growth. Most of the low-scoring cities are in countries with, civil unrest, high crime levels and little law enforcement.”

The personal safety ranking survey is as follows: Top 10: Luxembourg, Bern, Helinski, Zurich, Vienna, Geneva, Stockholm, Singapore, with Auckland and Wellington equal for ninth. The cities rating 40-50 are: Brussels and Point-a-Pitre equal for 40th, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Limassol, Lisbon, Prague, Bratislava, Adelaide and Brisbane.

 * Picture of Auckland by Scott Venning

2 thoughts on “The most liveable cities in the world

  1. Thanks for your comment Daniel. I’m glad Belfast is in the top 100 too. The list is a stark reality check of our increasingly urbanised world.


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