Austria’s Vienna has come up top again as the best city to live in globally, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The Global Liveability Index 2023 attributed Vienna’s success to its “winning combination” of stability, good culture and entertainment, reliable infrastructure, exemplary education and health services.
“It has occupied this position regularly over the past several years, with only the Covid-19 pandemic causing the city to vacate its place at the top spot,” the report added.
Copenhagen also retains its position as the second most livable city in the world, while Australian cities Sydney and Melbourne broke into the top five.
“They have seen their scores in the healthcare category improve since last year, when they were still affected by Covid waves that stressed their healthcare systems,” said the research firm.
The annual report rated 172 cities across these categories that define livability: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
The index rose last year to reach a 15-year high as the world recovered from the pandemic, said the EIU. The average index score is now 76.2 out of 100, up from 73.2 a year ago.
Top 10 cities to live in
- Vienna (Austria)
- Copenhagen (Denmark)
- Melbourne (Australia)
- Sydney (Australia)
- Vancouver (Canada)
- Zurich (Switzerland)
- Calgary (Canada)
- Geneva (Switzerland)
- Toronto (Canada)
- Osaka (Japan), Auckland (New Zealand) — Tie
Asia-Pacific cities make big moves
According to the EIU, Asia-Pacific cities have made some of the biggest gains in this year’s ranking — accounting for eight out of the top 10 movers.
This can be attributed to “a shift towards normalcy” after the pandemic, it added.
Notably, New Zealand’s Wellington moved up 35 spots to 23rd place, while Auckland moved up 25 spots to rank 10th on the index — after experiencing drops in ranking last year when Covid-19 forced intermittent lockdowns.
Hong Kong also moved 13 places up the rank to 61st most livable city in the world.
“Hong Kong has moved quite a fair bit,” Syetarn Hansakul, the EIU’s senior analyst said.
“That’s because of the removal of the Covid restrictions, that has improved the quality of life and the livability in Hong Kong tremendously last year,” she told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia on Thursday.
The rest of the world steadily moved to reopen early last year — but Hong Kong closely followed mainland China’s tough zero-Covid policy, and only started to relax some of its restrictions in late 2022.
Notable improvements in education and health-care scores were also observed across developing economies of Asia and the Middle East, EIU noted.
“Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems,” the report said.
Decline in stability scores
While health-care, education, infrastructure, culture and entertainment scores saw improvements in the past year, stability saw a “marginal decline,” said the EIU.
That’s due to instances of civil unrest in many cities amid a cost-of-living crisis and uptick of crimes in some cities.
Those in Western Europe in particular, have slipped in rankings due to increased instances of workers’ strikes — failing to “match gains” made by cities in Asia and the Middle East, the EIU added.
For example, Germany’s Frankfurt and the Netherland’s Amsterdam fell out of the top 10.