Melbourne still the world’s most liveable city

Melbourne is still the world’s most liveable city, according to the annual rankings from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Australia’s city remains the place with the best quality of life, reveals the annual study, which compares 140 cities worldwide in terms of their living conditions – as determined by stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

Australia retained its crown yet again, despite competition from the Austrian capital of Vienna, which scored just 0.1 percentage point lower than Melbourne. Vancouver and Toronto were snapping at both of their heels, with Calgary completing the top five (in joint place with Adelaide). Indeed, both Canada and Australia account for three of the top 10 rankings apiece, with Perth ranked seventh.

The top five cities remain unchanged from last year’s rankings, although the EIU notes that the past year has seen increasing instability across the world, causing volatility in the scores of many cities. Sydney, for example, has fallen by four places, to move out of the 10 most liveable cities, allowing Hamburg in Germany to move up to tenth place, although other German cities, such as Frankfurt and Berlin, have experienced declines in stability.

“Libya, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine remain the subject of high-profile armed conflicts, while a number of other countries, such as Nigeria, continue to battle insurgent groups,” comments the report. “Meanwhile even relatively stable countries such as the US have seen mounting civil unrest linked to the Black Lives Matter movement… Beyond this, the world has also seen increased diplomatic tensions between countries, weighing on stability.”

The secret to world-class living is not just peace and stability, though: those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.

In the top 10, Finland and New Zealand both have densities of approximately 18 people per square kilometre of land area. These densities compare with a global (land) average of 57 and a US average of 35. Austria bucks this trend with a density of 104 people per square kilometre. However, Vienna’s population of over 1.74m (2.6m in the metropolitan area) people is relatively small compared with the megacities of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo.

“Global business centres tend to be victims of their own success. The “big city buzz” that they enjoy can overstretch infrastructure and cause higher crime rates,” says the EIU. “New York, London, Paris and Tokyo are all prestigious hubs with a wealth of recreational activity, but all suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than are deemed comfortable. The question is how much wages, the cost of living and personal taste for a location can offset liveability factors.”

Here is the full ranking:

CityCountryScore (Out of 100)
AucklandNew Zealand95.7