Does Most Liveable Matter?

Vancouver slipped out of the top spot and Melbourne, Australia became the Economist’s most liveable city in their latest six mothly  Liveability Ranking and Overview released August, 2012. Again.

In fact, four of the world’s most liveable cities, according to the Economist, are in Australia and one is in New Zealand. Canada has three. Helsinki and Vienna are Europe’s representatives. No US cities made the cut.

Living conditions in 140 cities around the world are assessed across  30 indicators in five broad categories including Stability, Healthcare, Culture, Environment, Education and Infrastructure

There are a number of these liveability surveys eg the Mercer Quality of living Worldwide City Rankings which places Vienna at Number one. In a competition conducted last year with BuzzdataHong Kong was selected as most liveable. In that survey, Amsterdam was in Number 2 and Berlin made an appearance at number 7.

I have seen debates about who holds the number one spot for liveability in a number of journals. The reality is that most of the lists have strong overlaps. What is on the top twenty at one has some correlation to another.  For example, The Economist places Melbourne at Number one and Vienna at number eight. Mercer has Vienna at number one and Melbourne at number 18.

At the end of the day, it does not matter really who holds the number one spot. I suspect there is not much between the top twenty-five cities on anyone’s list. Instead what we have is a group of cities in the world that are highly liveable, another group that are quite liveable and a group of cities that are horrible. .Cities not in that top ten ot twenty list should be asking themselves what would get us into the top spots? What infrastructure or work would make us a more attractive place to live?

Interestingly as a visitor, who holds the top liveability is not so important. For example New York and Paris are not in the top ten lists but tourists won’t leave them alone. Adelaide is highly liveable but most tourists would struggle to find an immediate appeal about the place (look below the surface and you won’t be bored).

Foe what its worth, here is My Top liveability list

  1. Melbourne  – No I am not biased by my hometown
  2. Paris – food, transport, culture and space combined with history, parks and fashion. Whats not to love? (Yes speaking French helps)
  3. Adelaide – under rated by everyone (especially by the locals) but marvellous place to live
  4. San Francisco
  5. Berlin –
  6. Wellington – I think a much more liveable place than Auckland
  7. Portland, Oregon – always coming up trumps
  8. Toronto – everyone keeps agreeing on Toronto



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  1. I stayed in Sydney on a temp work visa, followed by a tourist visa in 2002. I have sung Australia’s praises ever since (aside from the lack of personal space when talking to others at a bar). I truly enjoyed Sydney, but when I made my way down to Melbourne I wished I had considered staying there instead as it struck me as an amazing city.
    In fact, one of my only true regrets in life was not actively pursuing the idea to permanently live in Australia at the end of my visit.

  2. Any reason why Vancouver couldn’t make your personal Top 10 list even though it’s consistently Top 10 (and even Top 3) in many rankings ?

  3. Coming back from watching the America’s cup trials on the Bay and great food after, why be anywhere that’s not highly liveable.

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