In 2023, Vienna confirms itself as the most livable city in the world

According to the Economist’s annual index, Vienna is once again the most livable city in the world. However, two European metropolises fall out of the top ten

Have you ever visited a city and felt such positive feelings that you started checking the real estate and job adverts once you returned home? It probably happened to those who visited one of the top ten cities in the annual ranking of the Economist’s Global Liveability Index.

The data, relating to 2023, indicate which urban centers live best in all continents. Some names are often present at the top of the list and we therefore have to wonder if they have understood what the “secrets” are to guarantee liveability and well-being. 

How are the best cities identified?

Naturally, when compiling the Global Liveability Index, for the team that deals with it on behalf of the Economist it is not just a question of evaluating the atmosphere in a city. The overall score – from zero to one hundred – is determined by examining a series of factors, including, for example, the quality of healthcare, education, cultural offerings, or the level of infrastructure.

Many of the 173 cities covered in the report saw scores improve after pandemic restrictions were eased and life returned to normal. In fact, with the exception of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, the average score of the index reached 76.2 out of 100, compared to 73.2 a year ago. This is the highest value of the last 15 years (considering the 140 cities that were also present in the index at the time).

Is Europe in decline?

Despite the post-Covid improvement, however, some European cities have lost positions compared to the ranking drawn up in 2022. This is partly due to the increased risks of instability: a consequence of the war in Ukraine. 

In particular, Frankfurt and Amsterdam dropped out of the top ten (last year they occupied seventh and ninth position respectively). But it is the cities of the United Kingdom which, in Europe, have recorded the most significant declines. Edinburgh, which entered the top 50 for the first time in 2022, taking 35th place, slipped to 58th this year. Similarly, London (34th in 2022) and Manchester (32nd) have both dropped places this year (12th and 16th respectively).

On a global scale, the scores at the macro-regional level have improved compared to those of 2022. Despite the decline of some cities, for example, Western Europe has maintained its position, even slightly improving the overall score: from 91 .4 last year at 92.3.

The biggest improvement, however, was seen in the Asia-Pacific region, which achieved a score of 73.5, a notable increase from last year’s 69.1. Furthermore, eight of the ten cities that have gained the most positions in the ranking come from this region. The most striking case is that of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, which gained 35 positions, placing itself 23rd. 

Here is the list of cities. Which cities made it into the top 10?

10. Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland Canva

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is the one that has recorded the second most marked improvement in the last year, climbing 25 positions, thus entering the top ten.

10. Osaka, Japan

Osaka Canva

The end of pandemic restrictions has provided a significant boost to many cities in the Asia-Pacific region. Osaka, the third most populous city in Japan and one of the most multicultural, benefited from an increase in scores especially in assessments related to culture and environment.

9. Toronto, Canada

Toronto Canva

Toronto, the Canadian city that occupies the lowest place in the top ten, is one of those most often present at the top. Although it slipped one place from eighth to ninth in 2023, it saw an improvement in its stability score following the end of anti-vaccine protests, which had led to a decline in 2022.

7. Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva Canva

Despite the tendency of European cities to retreat in the ranking, Geneva has maintained a place in the top ten this year too. The Swiss city dropped from sixth to seventh place but saw an increase in its education scores this year. It is generally considered one of the best cities to live in, but it is also one of the most expensive: the consultancy firm Mercer ranked it third in its annual global list.

7. Calgary, Canada

Calgary has slipped from joint third in 2022 to 7th in 2023. Canva

Europe is not the only continent to have lost places in the rankings. While there are no US cities in the top ten, Canadian ones are usually well represented. However, 2023 has seen a decline for Calgary, which last year was in third place: now the largest city in the province of Alberta has to settle for seventh. The scores relating to culture and environment had a negative impact, and the very good scores for stability, infrastructure, education and healthcare were not enough to compensate for the decline.

6. Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Canva

Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, has slipped to sixth place in the past year. While remaining in the top ten of the Global Liveability Index, what weighs heavily – as in the case of Geneva – is the cost of living, especially for foreign workers (according to the assessment of Mercer, in whose report it figures second only to Hong Kong).

5. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver Canva

Vancouver remains in fifth place, with a stability score increasing compared to last year, due to the waning of anti-vaccine protests.

4. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Canva

Covid had also had a notable impact on Australian cities such as Sydney, but the easing of restrictions saw the metropolis overtake some European cities and enter the top ten. In addition to the healthcare system earning top marks, the city’s education and infrastructure also scored a 100.

3. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne Canva

As in the case of Sydney, Melbourne’s ranking has been dented by the strong impacts related to the pandemic. Several waves of the virus have threatened to overwhelm the city’s health system, but this year the Economist gave it top marks (100), which helped Melbourne return to the top ten.

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is number two in the list. Canva

In second place for the second consecutive year is Copenhagen. Denmark is consistently ranked among the best countries in the world to live in, and this is also evident from the scores in each category awarded by the Economist. Values ​​are high in all categories, in particular top marks were given for education, infrastructure and stability.

1. Vienna, Austria

Vienna once again claims the top stop for the Economist’s most liveable city. Canva

No change at the top: Vienna retains the scepter of the most livable city in the world for another year. The Austrian capital has dominated the rankings over the last decade, placing first eight times. It was only undermined during the pandemic, when many museums and restaurants closed their doors.

The report finds that Vienna continues to offer “an unsurpassed combination of stability, good infrastructure, robust education and health services and a broad cultural and entertainment offering”. The only flaw is the lack of major sporting events.

Special mentions

Although its position plummeted in last year’s ranking following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Kiev returned to the index, albeit with low scores. The bombings and missiles that hit the Ukrainian capital caused the infrastructure and stability scores to plummet, but the city in the overall ranking, albeit with a miserable 165th place out of 173 cities.

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