Resilience, Peace and Security

Which city offers the best quality of life?

An aerial view of Sydney's Opera House and Circular Quay in the cities central business district August 18, 2000. Sydney is hosting the Olympic Games which will begin on September 15.  MDB/CC - RTRZUGR

An aerial view of Sydney's Opera House and Circular Quay in the cities central business district Image: REUTERS

Frida Garza
Editorial Fellow, Quartz
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It’s official: if you want to dramatically improve the quality of your life, move to Europe. That’s what the 18th annual Quality of Life survey from consulting firm Mercer suggests—cities in western Europe dominate the top of this year’s list of the world’s best cities to live in.

Only seven US cities made it into the top 50, and New York wasn’t even the highest ranked among those. Vienna was named the number one best city in the world to live in (again). Other German-speaking cities did well, too—Munich, Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt were all selected into the top 10, and Zurich (where a majority of the population speaks Swiss German) was ranked the second best city in the world to live in.

One of the key factors pushing cities to the top was personal safety, according to Mercer’s website. European cities did especially well on that measure: Luxembourg was named the top city for personal safety, while Bern, Helsinki, and Zurich tied for the second place. Some European cities—most notably, Paris—fell this year in the ranks because of terrorist attacks or social unrest. Baghdad and Damascus were ranked the world’s least safe cities.

Vancouver was the highest ranked city in North America; San Francisco ranked highest in the US; and Singapore topped the list in Asia.

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