World’s best quality of living still in Europe

28th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

In a recent survey of quality of life, mainland European cities won most of the top spots, while many Eastern European cities improved their rankings.

Mainland European cities are once again the most desirable places to live in the world, according to a quality of living survey published Tuesday.  

Thirteen of the top 20 cities in which to live and work are on the continent, including Zurich, Geneva, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin, according to the international consulting company Mercer.

The rankings are generated based on a number of factors, including political stability, economic environment, socio-cultural conditions, educational standards, public services, housing and the availability of entertainment.

The city of cafés and opera houses, Vienna, topped the list, pushing last year’s winner, Zurich, into second spot. Vienna’s rise was mainly due to improvements in Austria’s political and social environment, Mercer said.

The rest of the top 10 rankings were mainly dominated by German and Swiss cities, most of them retaining last year’s position and score.

One of the significant changes in the rankings happened in Eastern Europe, where many cities’ quality of living climbed due to increased stability, rising living standards and the greater availability of international consumer goods. Ljubljana in Slovenia, for example, moved up four places to 78th position while Bratislava moved up three places to 88th.

Beyond Europe, Canadian cities still dominate the top rankings of North American cities, with Vancouver clinching the highest spot at 4th.

The most desirable American cities were Honolulu at 29th, with San Francisco and Boston following it in positions 30th and 35th respectively.

For the first time ever, Mercer also ranked cities’ infrastructure. In this list, Singapore scored the highest followed by Munich in second place and Copenhagen in third.

Noting that German cities faired particularly well on the city infrastructure index, Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer, said: “German city infrastructure is among the best in the world, in part due to its first class airport facilities and connections to other international destinations.”
The infrastructure index was created based on ratings of electricity and water supply, telephone and mail services, public transportation, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports.

Published at a moment when many international companies are trying to figure out how to cut costs, Mercer’s quality of living survey is designed to help governments and companies place a financial value on moving workers from one country to another. Based on differences between quality of living between their home and host locations, companies can then compensate expatriates.

Currently, however, many companies are looking to have their employees stay safely at home.

“As a result of the current financial crisis, multinationals are looking to review their international assignment policies with a view to cutting costs,” said Parakatil. “Many companies plan to reduce the number of medium to long-term international assignments and localise their expatriate compensation packages where possible.”

Top 10 cities for quality of living in 2009:
1.    Vienna, Austria
2.    Zurich, Switzerland
3.    Geneva, Switzerland
4.    Vancouver, Canada
5.    Auckland, New Zealand
6.    Düsseldorf, Germany
7.    Munich, Germany
8.    Frankfurt, Germany
9.    Bern, Switzerland
10.    Sydney, Australia

To see more of Mercer’s rankings, visit:

Jessica Dorrance/Expatica

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