Economic Growth

Vienna has the world's best quality of living

Tourists enjoy a sunny day on mount Kahlenberg in Vienna, Austria March 12, 2019. Picture taken March 12, 2019.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - RC130100FEB0

The view from the top. Image: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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The Austrian capital of Vienna has been named best city for quality of life for the tenth year in a row.

 2019 Quality of Living Index
Image: Mercer

Vienna scored highly in the 2019 Quality of Living Index as it has lots of green spaces, cheap and efficient public transport, and a low crime rate.

The report looks at a host of factors that make a city an attractive place to live and an appealing place to site a business, such as the availability of housing and schools, as well as the health of the local economy and the cultural environment.

Although Nordic countries tend to outperform in lists of best places to live, their only representative in the top 10 is Copenhagen. Zürich has been placed second, while Vancouver is joint third with Auckland and Munich. In all, eight of the top 10 cities are in Europe, while every US city fell in the rankings this year, with the exception of New York.

Ancient beginnings

All over the world, there are reminders of the cities that spontaneously sprang into existence many thousands of years ago.

People have clustered together in ever-larger settlements for centuries, with Jericho, roughly 20 miles northwest of the Dead Sea, thought to be the world’s oldest city.

There is archaeological evidence showing that the city's walls were built some 11,000 years ago. Today, Jericho has a population of 20,000.

By 1950, there were 751 million people living in cities. That had grown to 4.2 billion by last year and in around 30 years, approximately 68% of the global population will be living in cities.

With around 80% of all GDP generated by economic activity within cities, ensuring their long-term success is hugely important: they are the engine of the global economy. That can only happen if there is a thriving business community along with a highly skilled workforce to support it.

“Strong, on-the-ground capabilities are integral to the global operations of most international businesses and are in large part driven by the personal and professional wellbeing of the individuals that companies place in those locations,” explains Ilya Bonic, senior partner and president at Mercer.

“Companies looking to expand overseas have a host of considerations when identifying where best to locate staff and new offices. The key is relevant, reliable data and standardised measurement, which are essential for employers to make critical decisions, from deciding where to establish offices to determining how to distribute, house and remunerate their global workforces.”

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A well-rounded city life

In Asia, Singapore is the best city to live in. Montevideo, Uruguay ranked best in South America, while Dubai came top in the Middle East. Port Louis in Mauritius is Africa’s safest and best city to live in.

The Mercer report also looked at which are the world’s safest cities. Luxembourg was found to be the safest in the world, followed by the Finnish capital, Helsinki which was ranked joint second with a trio of Swiss cities – Basel, Bern and Zürich.

The cities rated as the least safe are an unsurprising and depressing rollcall of conflict hotspots. Damascus was worst, followed by Bangui in the Central African Republic, Sana’a in Yemen, Kinshasa in the DRC, with Baghdad completing the list of the five worst cities for safety.

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