You would think that it would be hard to make a list of The Best Cities in the World as the economy and political structures of many countries seem to be shaking in recent years. The economic uncertainty of the past decade spilled over into this one, resulting in slow growth and shaky times in the global economic market. The insecurity brought about by social and political unrest have made the standard of living deteriorate in some parts of the world. Think of the revolutions in parts of the Middle East, or the protests and strikes in some Western European countries. These events have affected the way people live in these countries, and their ability to attract tourism as well.
As most of the world grapples with these situations, a small number of regions have enjoyed a surprising amount of stability and peace. This has led them to take advantage of the stable environments and invest in their infrastructure, thus boosting their all-round attractiveness to outsiders. With this in mind, the human resources consulting firm Mercer has come up with a list of cities that offer the best of security, infrastructure, and great culture. While this is not to be confused with a list of perfect cities with no pollution, traffic congestion, and such, they come pretty close.
Something to note, the ranking of the cities was based against New York in 10 categories: socio-cultural, politics, healthcare, education, economy, and finance. Also, some of the cities in the world’s two biggest economies, U.S. and Japan, didn’t make the cut. Surprised huh? Read on then and see which did.
The best cities in the world
1. Vienna, Austria
No surprises for this one. Vienna has made the top ranking for the world’s best city since 2009. One of the 8 European cities on the top 10 list, Vienna is Austria’s cultural and economic capital. Of the Austrian cities, its per capita GDP is the highest at $55,000. Perhaps the most important factor that makes Vienna stand out is the fact that the city has been able to transform old infrastructure and make it habitable. Under a multimillion dollar project, the city has refurbished old buildings into more than 200,000 apartments. Vienna is also the world’s number one destination for conferences, drawing in more than 5 million tourists a year.
2. Zurich, Switzerland
For the second year in a row, Zurich keeps the second spot for city with the best quality of life. It is also one of three Swiss cities on the list, an impressive accomplishment. Known for its financial prowess, one of every 9 jobs in the country is based in Zurich. The low tax rates are perfect for foreign companies and investors, whose assets account for 85% of the total value of assets in Switzerland. The country also has great tourist attraction sites, the most famous being the lakeside locations and hilly regions that are good for snow sports.
The standard of living in Zurich ranks sixth in the world, and together with Geneva make Switzerland the most expensive country to live in in Western Europe. The education system is good, as is the safety record.
3. Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland is the largest city in the Asia-Pacific region, and the most populous too. It has been ranked in the top 5 best cities for the past 6 years, a testament to how good a life it provides.
The geographical location of the city contributes a lot to its success. It is located between two harbors, and has numerous islands and volcanoes surrounding it. The islands contribute a unique accomplishment to the city: the world’s largest boat ownership per person. The city also has the highest number of educated people in New Zealand, with a third of the working population having a bachelor’s degree or higher.
4. Munich, Germany
This is one of Germany’s key economic centers, and is the third largest in the country. Still in fourth spot from last year, the city is home to some of the most recognizable companies, notably Siemens and Allianz.
Munich ties Frankfurt for the second best infrastructure in the world, according to Mercer. From the Mercer report, four German cities dominate the world’s top 10 best infrastructure rankings, a testament to the country’s focus on building world class buildings, roads, and public service.
5. Vancouver, Canada
The only Canadian and North American city in the top 10 this year, Vancouver has made it to the top rankings consistently for the past six years. Home to some of the mildest climate in the world, Vancouver is also the greenest city in all of North America. This is partly due to the fact that it lies smack in the middle of water and snowy peaks, and the city’s government is constantly urging green projects – from buildings to technology.
6. Dusseldorf, Germany
The second German city of the three in the top 10, Dusseldorf falls one spot from last year’s rankings. However, the city has made Mercer’s top 10 rankings for the past six years.
Renowned for its location next to the river Rhine, Dusseldorf is the country’s fashion and art capital, boasting over 100 galleries. This has made it a target for the wealthy, and is the second most populous city in Germany. According to local media, Dusseldorf has more millionaires than any other city in Germany.
7. Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt has long been the financial capital of continental Europe, and this year retains the seventh spot it held last year. It is Germany’s fifth largest city, and ranks second to Singapore in the world for its infrastructure. The city is also environmentally conscientious, and has set up low emission zones to reduce air pollution. About half of the city is made up of green spaces and waterways!
8. Geneva, Switzerland
It is Switzerland’s second most populous city, and is host to some of the major international organizations on the playing field. Geneva is also one of the greenest cities in Europe, mainly due to the numerous parks and green open areas, and the fact that it is home to some global environmental groups.
The cost of living in Geneva is the highest in Western Europe, and the fifth most expensive in the world. It is also home to some of the most expensive private schools, which offer one of the best education systems worldwide. The economy gets its strength from global oil sales, which account for 35% of the world oil trade volumes.
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen retains the ninth spot from last year, and makes its sixth appearance on Mercer’s top 10 cities list. Health ranks very high in this city, with a large part of the population being aged 60 and older. The city is also the leading producer of organic food in all of Europe. An interesting fact is that about a third of the city’s population commute by bicycle, with more than 200 miles of cycle tracks laid out.
10. Bern, Switzerland (tie)
Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and is known for its medieval charm. The city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also the main center for much of the country’s industries: information technology, medicine, luxury products, manufacturing, automotive, and engineering. The city was also ranked as the second safest city in the world after Luxembourg, according to Mercer.
11. Sydney, Australia (tie)
As Australia’s most populous city, Sydney doubles as the country’s economic center. The natural environment is one to die for, with harbors and parks, bays and beaches surrounding the city. Sydney breaks into the top 10 this year, making it the only Australian city within the top 30 cities.
Have you been to any of the 11 best cities in the world? We want to hear about it!