Residents of Zurich enjoy the best quality of life in the world, according to Deutsche Bank’s latest research.

The Swiss city overtook New Zealand’s capital Wellington to claim the top spot in the quality of life category in the Mapping the World’s Prices 2019 survey.

Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Vienna, Helsinki, Melbourne, Boston, San Francisco and Sydney round out the rest of the top 10.

The report by Deutsche Bank Research looked at costs and living standards, measuring the quality of life in 56 global cities based on a range of factors, including consumer purchasing power, safety, healthcare, cost of living, housing affordability, commuting and pollution.

While European, American and Australian cities offer the highest quality of life, some major European cities have not fared so well. Frankfurt, which held the top spot five years ago, fell four places to 13th this year, while Paris slid two spots to 36th, and London was down six to 41st place.

In fact, when it comes to the highest living standards, smaller global cities seem to have the edge over megacities. Take New York as an example: though ranked 5th for disposable income after rent, it only placed 31st for quality of life.

Overall, the megacities – with the exception of Tokyo – are left languishing in the second half of the list. Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, is at the bottom, followed by Beijing and Manila.

What is the World Economic Forum doing to improve the future of cities?

Cities represent humanity’s greatest achievements – and greatest challenges. From inequality to air pollution, poorly designed cities are feeling the strain as 68% of the world’s population is predicted to live in urban areas by 2050.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Urban Transformation supports a number of projects designed to make cities cleaner and more inclusive, and to improve citizens’ quality of life:

  • Creating a net zero carbon future for cities
    The Forum’s Net Zero Carbon Cities programme brings together businesses from 10 sectors, with city, regional and national government leaders who are implementing a toolbox of solutions to accelerate progress towards a net-zero future.
  • Helping citizens stay healthy
    The Forum is working with cities around the world to create innovative urban partnerships, to help residents find a renewed focus on their physical and mental health.
  • Developing smart city governance
    Cities, local governments, companies, start-ups, research institutions and non-profit organizations are testing and implementing global norms and policy standards to ensure that data is used safely and ethically.
  • Closing the global infrastructure investment gap
    Development banks, governments and businesses are finding new ways to work together to mobilize private sector capital for infrastructure financing.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

Highest-paying cities

For the eighth edition of its annual survey, Deutsche Bank Research focused on cities experiencing major change over the past five years.

Still one of the world’s most expensive cities, Zurich - the Swiss banking capital - no longer boasts the highest salaries and disposable income after rent.

Thanks to the rapid growth of the U.S. tech sector, that’s now San Francisco, where average salaries have risen 31% since 2018 and 88% over the last five years. As of 2019, average earnings in San Francisco were more than $6,500 per month – 142% more than the average New Yorker’s income.

Over the past five years, San Francisco has climbed seven and 21 places, respectively, in the rankings of salaries and disposable income after rent.

The report also notes that, buoyed by a stronger U.S. economy and dollar, New York, Boston and Chicago have edged Australian and European cities out of the top five on the salary and disposable income metrics.

“When we started this report back in 2012 the US was a very cheap place internationally and salaries were generally competing to be in the top 10, not dominating the top five as they do today,” the report’s authors wrote.

Deutsche Bank’s survey also compares costs such as monthly rent and the price of internet access, as well as analyzing items such the price of a cappuccino, a date night out and an iPhone.