Vienna named world's most liveable city again; Kuala Lumpur ranks No. 80

  • Living
  • Thursday, 27 Feb 2014

Want a great life? Move to Vienna, or pick from 78 other cities in the world with a better quality of living than Malaysia’s capital, according to a new survey.

Vienna, Austria’s opulent capital, offers the best quality of life of any city in the world and Baghdad the worst, according to the latest global survey from the consulting firm Mercer. German and Swiss cities also performed especially well in the annual quality of living rankings. Zurich, Munich, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt made the top 10.

Mercer’s survey helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses 39 criteria, such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport,

With a population of 1.7 million, Vienna tops the survey for the fifth year in a row, boasting a vibrant cultural scene alongside comprehensive health care and moderate housing costs. The Austrian capital’s extensive public transport system costs just €1 a day for an annual pass. Its Habsburg-era coffee houses, architecture, palaces, operas and other cultural institutions makes it a prime tourist destination.

Europe has seven of the world’s top 10 cities in the 2014 survey. New Zealand, Australia and Canada each have a city in the top 10. “European cities enjoy a high overall quality of living compared to those in other regions. Health care, infrastructure, and recreational facilities are generally of a very high standard,” says Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer.

Canadian cities have the highest rankings in the Americas. Vancouver kept the top spot, at No. 5, followed by Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. San Francisco is the premier urban centre in the US at 27. Dubai at 73 again tops the chart for the Middle East and Africa. That region also has five of the bottom six cities, including Bangui, Central African Republic; N’Djamena, Chad; Sana’a, Yemen; and Brazzaville, Congo.

Singapore at No. 25 leads the Asia Pacific region, followed by four Japanese cities: Tokyo (43), Kobe (47), Yokohama (49), and Osaka (57). Kuala Lumpur is at No. 80, and Dushanbe (209), Tajikistan, is the lowest-ranking city in the region.

“Asia has a bigger range of quality-of-living standard amongst its cities than any other region. For many cities, such as those in South Korea, the quality of living is continually improving. But for others, such as some in China, issues like pervasive poor air pollution are eroding their quality of living, ” says Parakatil.

Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, was again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the city since the American-led invasion in 2003, and another wave seems to be building. Last year was the bloodiest since the previous wave began to ebb, in 2008. Recent bombings in Baghdad and another Iraqi city killed at least 49 people.

“The Middle East and especially Africa remain one of the most challenging regions for multinational organizations and expatriates,” says Parakatil. “Regional instability and disruptive political events, including civil unrest, lack of infrastructure and natural disasters such as flooding keep the quality of living from improving in many of its cities.”

Mercer produces worldwide quality-of-living rankings annually from its Worldwide Quality Of Living Survey. The data is largely collected between September and November 2013, but is updated regularly to take account of changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments are revised to reflect significant political, economic, and environmental developments. — Reuters

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