By Kate Youde and Alex Howlett
Expats seeking the world’s highest quality of life will find it in Vienna, according to new research, while Luxembourg provides the safest environment.
The Austrian capital topped the annual Quality of Living ranking from human resources consultancy Mercer for the 10th year running, while the Swiss city of Zurich took second place.
In joint third place with Munich and Auckland, Vancouver remained the highest-ranked city in North America. Singapore, placed 25th globally, led the way in Asia, while Dubai, in 74th, was the highest-ranked city in the Middle East.
Uruguay’s capital Montevideo and Port Louis in Mauritius offer the highest quality of living in South America and Africa, respectively.
Quality of living is determined by factors such as access to public transport, traffic congestion levels, availability of housing and international schools, and culture. Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, came bottom of the rankings.
Quality of Living ranking
1 Vienna, Austria
2 Zurich, Switzerland
3= Vancouver, Canada
3= Munich, Germany
3= Auckland, New Zealand
6 Düsseldorf, Germany
7 Frankfurt, Germany
8 Copenhagen, Denmark
9 Geneva, Switzerland
10 Basel, Switzerland
All US cities — bar New York, which rose one place to 44th as a result of its falling crime rates — dropped down the rankings this year.
London, which remained in 41st, two places behind Paris, offers the best overall quality of living of UK cities studied. “However, it continues to be held back by perennial problems with traffic and air pollution, and having the lowest scores in the UK for safety owing to its crime levels,” says Kate Fitzpatrick, global mobility practice leader for the UK and Ireland at Mercer.
Luxembourg heads Mercer’s new separate personal safety ranking, which is based on cities’ stability, levels of crime, law enforcement, limitations on personal freedom, relationships with other countries and freedom of the press. Swiss cities took four spots in the top 10, which is dominated by western Europe.
Personal safety ranking
1 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
2= Basel, Switzerland
2= Bern, Switzerland
2= Helsinki, Finland
2= Zurich, Switzerland
6 Vienna, Austria
7= Geneva, Switzerland
7= Oslo, Norway
9= Auckland, New Zealand
9= Wellington, New Zealand
At 200th, Moscow was Europe’s least safe city in the rankings. London was 64th, New York 55th and Paris 60th.
Damascus in Syria, ranked 231st, was deemed to be the world’s most dangerous city.
A closer look at the top three
Topping Mercer’s overall Quality of Living ranking for a decade, the Austrian capital, which boasts about 2,000 parks, is also one of the world’s greenest cities.
Its historic centre has held Unesco World Heritage status since 2001, with the horseshoe-shaped Ringstrasse boulevard home to illustrious cultural institutions such as the Vienna State Opera.
Dominique Meyer, director of the Vienna State Opera, recommends living in Neubau, the seventh district, near the city centre, because of its “wonderful atmosphere”, international mix and beautiful 18th-century architecture. “ It has little winding streets with pretty shops, restaurants and cafés,” he says.
What you can buy for £5m
Located in the city centre a few minutes’ walk from Stadtpark, this six-bedroom apartment benefits from the amenities of the adjoining hotel, including a swimming pool, fitness centre and 24-hour concierge service. Christie’s International Real Estate, $6,100,000 (£4,686,020).
Residents of the Swiss financial centre, which ranks second globally for both quality of living and safety, enjoy all-round access to the outdoors. Lake Zurich provides opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and sailing in summer, while Alpine resorts offering winter pursuits are less than two hours’ drive away.
Christian Spuck, director of Ballett Zürich, enjoys living in Fluntern. “This neighbourhood is rather quiet and peaceful, so it is a perfect escape from the hectic city life,” he says. “At the same time, it only takes about 10 minutes by tram to get to the city centre.”
He advises against driving in Zurich or taking cabs, which are expensive. “In general, public transport is very good in Switzerland,” he says. “So unless you need to go to a rather remote place, it will be faster by train, tram or bus.”
What you can buy for £5m
With floor-to-ceiling windows across two storeys in the living room, this modern four-bedroom penthouse overlooks Zurich West, a former industrial area that is being transformed into one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods. Christie’s International Real Estate, price on application.
Vancouver, which rose from fifth to third in the overall rankings this year, has the highest quality of living in North America. It also shares top spot for safety in the region with four other Canadian cities.
Enjoying a picturesque mountain-to-ocean setting, with Kitsilano beach on its shoreline and the world-class ski resort of Whistler about a two-hour drive away, residents can lead an active lifestyle. Other advantages of life in the west coast city include access to Canada’s longest swimming pool and cultural institutions such as the HR MacMillan Space Centre.
The city’s state-run schools are highly regarded and there are establishm ents specialising in international curricula.
What you can buy for £5m
A five-bedroom house only a ten minutes drive away from the city centre, with a first floor terrace and a media room in the basement, this Vancouver property is close to several highly-ranked private schools. Knight Frank, C$ 4,988,00 (£2,831,569).
Photographs: Dreamstime; Alamy; Getty Images/iStockphoto