It’s “the art of living well” (from the German ‘Lebenskunst’) that has elevated cities in Europe to dominate the top 10 rankings of the most Liveable Cities in the world from a list that rates a total of 172.
Why Vienna? “Stability and good infrastructure are the city’s main charms for its inhabitants, supported by good healthcare and plenty of opportunities for culture and entertainment,” concludes the report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist that produces annual rankings.
No U.S. cities made it into the top 10, which was dominated by five small cities in western Europe: the Danish capital, Copenhagen, Switzerland’s Zurich and Geneva, Germany’s Frankfurt and the Netherlands’ Amsterdam, plus Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.
The ranking criteria
The EIU considers the living conditions in 172 cities based on more than 30 factors grouped into five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Inclusive opportunities for all residents to enjoy accessible housing, access to green spaces, abundance of public spaces, efficient public transportation systems, healthcare availability and other amenities are among the markers for the healthiest and most liveable cities.
A post-pandemic world
This year’s listing reflects the changing landscape of the world following the coronavirus pandemic over the past years as governments end tough lockdowns that have permitted this year’s reopening and the recovery of lifestyles that look similar to pre-pandemic life.
Culture and environment, healthcare and education have been among the most affected scores during the pandemic, with some countries faring better than others. Globally, however, after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted or eased, the scores for stability have fallen since the 2021 report.
As could be expected, “in general, mid-sized cities in the wealthiest countries tend to fare exceptionally well in the survey,” the EIU wrote.
No Paris, London or New York
Some of the most popular cities in the world didn’t rank high in the survey: Paris and London, usually perform less well in the ranking because of big-city problems such as congestion and crime. They were 19th and 33rd respectively, as they start to treat Covid as an endemic problem rather than a pandemic.
Spain’s Barcelona and Madrid ranked 35th and 43rd respectively. Italy’s Milan was 49th, New York 51st and Beijing 71st.
The ongoing war in Ukraine also has impacted the rankings: Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, could not be included while rankings for Russian cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg dropped in the rankings after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which led to “increased censorship” the report noted: “Russian cities are additionally seeing restrictions on culture and environment as a result of western economic sanctions.”
Neighboring cities in Eastern Europe were also considered less stable following “raised diplomatic tensions” due to the war.
Neither was Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, ravaged by a 2020 port explosion and battling a crippling financial crisis, included in the ranking.
The capital of war-torn Syria, Damascus, retained its place as the least liveable city on the planet.
Here are the top 10:
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Zurich, Switzerland and Calgary, Canada
5. Vancouver, Canada
6. Geneva, Switzerland
7. Frankfurt, Germany
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
10. Osaka, Japan and Melbourne, Australia