Urban Transformation

The best cities in the world? This is what people think

The TV tower at Alexanderplatz square during sunset in Berlin, November 2, 2014.   REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY  - Tags: CITYSCAPE SOCIETY) - RTR4CJY2

They surveyed a group of 5,200 people from 16 countries. Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Lianna Brinded
Markets Editor, Business Insider
Will Martin
Markets Reporter, Business Insider UK
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The best cities in the world should have a good mix of economic strength, solid infrastructure, innovation, influence, great entertainment, culture and food.

Global accounting and consultancy giant PwC, in collaboration with BAV Consulting, surveyed a group of 5,200 people from 16 countries about where they believe the best cities in the world are and sent the results to Business Insider.

The demographic was made up of "an equal number of business decision makers, informed elites, and other general population adults over 18 years of age."

Informed elites are defined as "well-educated, high-income consumers who typically stay up to date with world events."

They were asked what they think about 30 global cities across 40 metrics. Key metrics included:

- Politics

- Economics

- Infrastructure

- Innovation

- Leadership and influence in terms of economics, politics.

- Culture

- Entertainment

- Great food

- Happiness

- Affordability and income equality

- Safety

- Access to public education and public health

PwC then collated an aggregate score for each city and ranked them for its report entitled "Empowering city brands: Bridging the perception and reality divide," which compares the differences between what people think about a city and the reality.


Here are the 23 cities that people perceive to be the best in the world:

23. Johannesburg, South Africa — Experts surveyed saw the city as the 12th best city for sustainability and environmental care.

22. Moscow, Russia — According to the PwC survey, Moscow, Russia's capital, is "winning" when it comes to being politically influential.

21. Shanghai, China — China's financial centre was just outside the top 20 of PwC's survey. It was perceived as having some of the worst congestion of any city, ranking 28th in that category.Andy Murray takes picture of the skyline of Shanghai on the top of Peninsular Hotel.

20. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — PwC say Rio did not make the top tier because the "Olympic Games raised a different set of questions about reputation than London’s after Brexit." Crime and high pollution offset some of the more positive perceptions of the city, such as food and culture.

19. Seoul, South Korea — According to the survey, reality and perceptions are very different in the Korean capital. "Seoul suffers from even more misperceptions about its sustainability and environmental credentials, placing just 20th in perception yet 3rd in reality [based on PwC's own data]."

18. Beijing, China — China's capital has a reputation as being one of the most congested, smoggiest places on earth, but in reality it ranks 22nd in this category according to PwC's own data.

17. Singapore — Singapore's perceived position may be 17th on PwC's list, but in reality the city is the 2nd best on earth, according to PwC's own analysis, showing it clearly has a reputation problem.

16. Hong Kong — Another major global financial centre, Hong Kong, ranks 16th in people's perceptions, despite coming in the bottom three for its sustainability and environmental care.

15. Chicago, US — Home of two of the world's top commodity exchanges, Chicago was close to the middle of the pack in almost every category, reflecting its overall standing of 15th.The Chicago skyline is seen beyond the arctic sea smoke rising off Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois.

14. Madrid, Spain — Spain's capital scored well in the traffic congestion category, with only seven other global cities seen to have less congestion.

13. Milan, Italy — While Rome is the capital, Milan is the home of Italy's financial sector, with many of the country's banks headquartered in the city. It scored well for congestion, beating Madrid by one place.The skyline of Milan on a September evening.

12. Dubai, United Arab Emirates — It may not be the capital of the UAE, but Dubai is the country's most recognisable city and, according to PwC, is "winning" when it comes to being innovative and modern.

11. San Francisco, US — The city that provides a gateway to the tech hub of Silicon Valley is seen as being very environmentally friendly, coming 7th in the sustainability and environmental care section.

10. Los Angeles, US — The city famous for Hollywood rounds out PwC's top ten, and is seen as "winning" when it comes to having access to great entertainment and superfast internet.

9. Stockholm, Sweden — Stockholm frequently ranks as one of the world's best cities in major rankings, and PwC shows why. It is seen as "winning" in eight different categories, including income equality and trustworthiness.

8. Toronto, Canada — Toronto has a reputational issue, scoring just 8th overall in the opinion of experts, when data suggests it the world's 3nd "best" city.

7. Tokyo, Japan — Tokyo's reputation is much better than reality, coming just 15th globally in the data-driven best cities index, according to PwC.

6. Berlin, Germany — Germany's capital is known as a startup hub, but also has a great attitude towards sustainability, finishing 5th in this category.

5. Sydney, Australia — Like Dubai, Sydney isn't its country's capital, but is its most recognisable city. The city has a reputation for little congestion and environmental care.

4. Amsterdam, the Netherlands — Famously laid back and dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, it is unsurprising that Amsterdam is perceived as having the least traffic congestion of any city on this list, helping it to 4th overall.

3. New York, US — Home of Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State building, New York is one of the planet's most iconic cities. It is also one of its best, according to PwC, thanks largely to its economic power. It ranks No. 1 in the leadership category "for its economic influence and ability to provide easy access to capital," the report says.

2. Paris, France — "Paris scores highly on 28 of 36 attributes. It’s No. 1 in cultural influence, including attractions and setting cultural trends, and in the top-three-ranked cities in terms of entertainment and cuisine," PwC says.

1. London, UK — London ticks all the boxes for people in the survey but PwC warns that the Brexit vote will shake people's perceptions of the city and the uncertainty could cause upset across many of the metrics.

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