World’s most liveable city changed after 7 years, 10 most liveable cities

Austria’s capital, Vienna, ranks as the most liveable of the 140 cities surveyed by The Economist Intelligence Unit. A long-running contender to the title, Vienna has succeeded in displacing Melbourne from the top spot, ending a record seven consecutive years at the head of the survey for the Australian city.

Although both Melbourne and Vienna have registered improvements in liveability over the last six months, increases in Vienna’s ratings, particularly in the stability category, have been enough for the city to overtake Melbourne. The two cities are now separated by 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring a near-ideal 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scoring 98.4.

Osaka CastleOsakaTwo other Australian cities feature in the top-ranked places: Sydney (5th) and Adelaide (10th), while only one other European city made the top ten. This is Copenhagen in Denmark, in 9th place, after its score increased by 3.3 percentage points since the last survey cycle. The rest of the top-ranked cities are split between Japan (Osaka in 3rd place and Tokyo in joint 7th, alongside Toronto) and Canada (Calgary in 4th, and Vancouver and Toronto in 6th and 7th respectively). Osaka stands out especially, having climbed six positions, to third place, over the past six months, closing the gap with Melbourne. It is now separated from the former top-ranked city by a mere 0.7 of a percentage point. Osaka’s improvements in scores for quality and availability of public transportation, as well as a consistent decline in crime rates, have contributed to higher ratings in the infrastructure and stability categories respectively.

Upwards movement in the top-ranked cities is a reflection of improvements seen in stability and safety across most regions in the past year. Whereas in the past, cities in Europe have been affected by the spreading perceived threat of terrorism in the region, which caused heightened security measures, the past six months have seen a return to normalcy. Yet, during this period, 116 cities of the 140 surveyed have experienced changes in their ranking position. This rises to 128 cities when looking at changes over the past year.

It must be noted that ranking movements do not necessarily arise from a change in liveability in the cities themselves, but reflect how cities compare with one another. Although four cities have fallen from the top ten over the past year—Auckland (from 8th to 12th), Perth (from 7th to 14th), Helsinki (from 9th to 16th) and Hamburg (from 10th to 18th)—none of these have seen a fall in their overall scores during this period. New Zealand’s Auckland has in fact registered a minor improvement. Changes in liveability elsewhere can, therefore, have a significant impact on the rankings of individual cities.

Of the 140 surveyed cities, 49% registered negative changes in their overall liveability rank in the past six months and 34% experienced positive movements (the rest did not record any change). Yet, despite the total number of negative movements outweighing the positive ones, the rankings show that overall liveability across all cities surveyed increased by 0.7% in the past six months and 0.9% in the past year.

Improvements were recorded across all five categories measured—infrastructure, stability, education, healthcare, and culture and environment—but especially in stability, which increased by 2.5% overall.

The prolonged period of relative stability has resulted in the stabilization of terrorism threat scores in several cities, especially in Western Europe. The only cities that have seen a fall in their stability indicators over the past six months are Abu Dhabi (71st) and Dubai (69th) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Colombo (130th) in Sri Lanka and Warsaw (65th) in Poland.

Over the past twelve months, Kiev has also seen a significant improvement in liveability, reflecting a pick-up in economic growth and relative political stability despite the Donbas conflict.

Of the top-ranked cities, Paris in France and Manchester in the UK recorded the biggest improvements over the past 12 months, both in overall scores and stability ratings.

The ten most liveable cities

Country City Rank Overall Rating (100=ideal) Stability Healthcare Culture & Environment Education Infrastructure
Austria Vienna 1 99.1 100.0 100.0 96.3 100.0 100.0
Australia Melbourne 2 98.4 95.0 100.0 98.6 100.0 100.0
Japan Osaka 3 97.7 100.0 100.0 93.5 100.0 96.4
Canada Calgary 4 97.5 100.0 100.0 90.0 100.0 100.0
Australia Sydney 5 97.4 95.0 100.0 94.4 100.0 100.0
Canada Vancouver 6 97.3 95.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 92.9
Canada Toronto 7 97.2 100.0 100.0 97.2 100.0 89.3
Japan Tokyo 7 97.2 100.0 100.0 94.4 100.0 92.9
Denmark Copenhagen 9 96.8 95.0 95.8 95.4 100.0 100.0
Australia Adelaide 10 96.6 95.0 100.0 94.2 100.0 96.4

The ten least liveable cities

Country City Rank Overall Rating (100=ideal) Stability Healthcare Culture & Environment Education Infrastructure
Senegal Dakar 131 48.3 50.0 41.7 59.7 50.0 37.5
Algeria Algiers 132 44.1 50.0 45.8 45.4 50.0 30.4
Cameroon Douala 133 44.0 60.0 25.0 48.4 33.3 42.9
Libya Tripoli 134 42.9 45.0 41.7 40.3 50.0 41.1
Zimbabwe Harare 135 42.6 40.0 20.8 58.6 66.7 35.7
PNG Port Moresby 136 41.0 30.0 37.5 47.0 50.0 46.4
Pakistan Karachi 137 40.9 20.0 45.8 38.7 66.7 51.8
Nigeria Lagos 138 38.5 20.0 37.5 53.5 33.3 46.4
Bangladesh Dhaka 139 38.0 50.0 29.2 40.5 41.7 26.8
Syria Damascus 140 30.7 20.0 29.2 40.5 33.3 32.1

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