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Thread: Best European city for quality of living ?

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    Question Best European city for quality of living ?



    Mercer, a consulting company, ranks annually 215 cities around the world for their quality of living. Here are the highlights from the 2007 Quality of Living Survey.

    Here is Mercer's ranking Top 20 for the EU :

    1) Vienna
    2) Düsseldorf
    3) Frankfurt
    4) Munich
    5) Copenhagen
    6) Amsterdam
    7) Brussels
    8) Berlin
    9) Luxembourg
    10) Stockholm
    11) Nuremberg
    12) Hamburg
    13) Dublin
    14) Helsinki
    15) Paris
    16) Lyon
    17) London
    18) Barcelona
    19) Madrid
    20) Lisbon

    Like for ranking regarding the cost of life (remember how Tokyo always outranks London !), I am always surprised (not to say appalled) by the results of the survey. The rankings are clearly based on raw number and people who make them obviously haven't lived in the cities in the list before ranking them.

    It is time they realise that quality of life (and living) does not depend as much on GDP per capita and sanitation as on the beauty of the place, the quality of the food, the character of the people, and the comfort of the climate. Unfortunately it is impossible to have statistics for the average level of beauty of a city and or the average taste of its restaurants. Hence the aberration of the results.

    How can a city as ugly and unpleasant as Düsseldorf be 2nd for the EU, and dreamlike places like Nice, Florence or Rome not even make the top 50 ? I have been to Düsseldorf, and I wouldn't even recommend it as a place to visit or stay overnight. The place is just so depressing; I can't understand how someone would want to put it in the top 100 for Europe.

    How comes that Northern Europe, where the weather sucks big time, outranks all the cities in Mediterranean Europe, where life is so comfortable that millionaires and stars hurry to buy a second home there ? Italian and Southern French cities don't even make the top 50.

    Then you have cities where the quality of living is fairly similar everywhere (e.g. Tokyo, Luxembourg), and others where the gap between rich and poor neighbourhood is so huge that it would require completely separate rankings (e.g. Paris, Brussels, London, New York).

    Mercer's ranking was made for expats, so things like education or social security don't matter, while the attractiveness of the place does. If a city has strong socio-economic divisions, it is most likely than expats will choose to live in the good part of the city, not in the slums. So the ranking should be based on this kind of neighbourhood and leave out the rest.

    Paris wouldn't make the top 100 if the lower class banlieues where taken into account in the average. Brussels certainly wouldn't be 7th in the EU. These rankings are probably based on the best neighbourhoods in these cities. But then, how comes London is not in the top 5 ?

    However you look at it, this ranking is strange. Among the cities listed, I have lived (or stayed long enough to know the city well) in London, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, and Tokyo. I would rank them like this for the quality of living :

    1) London
    2) Rome
    3) Brussels
    4) Paris
    5) Florence
    6) Tokyo
    7) Berlin
    8) Barcelona


    They ranked it :

    1) Brussels
    2) Berlin
    3) Paris
    4) Tokyo
    5) London
    6) Barcelona

    - Rome and Florence not in top 50.

    They explain the criteria they take into account here

    For my rating, I removed "Schools and education" and split "Socio-cultural environment" between "political environment" (censorship, etc.) and recreation (cultural life). I also added 2 new criteria : beauty & atmosphere, and pollution & cleanliness.

    A. Political and social environment

    I don't think there is a big difference in political stability, crime, censorship, limitations on personal freedom between these cities. Tokyo may have a bit less crime, but a more stifled political environment.

    B. Economic environment

    It's easier to find a job in London or Tokyo than in Florence or Rome. Banks are definitely better in Belgium than in France, Italy or Japan.

    C. Health and sanitation

    Medical services are best in continental Europe, then in Britain, and Japan comes last.

    D. Public services and transportation

    The best metro is Tokyo's, the worst in Brussels. But buses in Tokyo suck, while those in Brussels (+ tramway) are ok. Traffic congestion and pollution are worst in Paris and best in Tokyo. Florence does not have a metro or tramways and suffers a lot from traffic jams (narrow streets) and parking problems.

    E. Recreation

    Cultural life and recreational activities are obvioiusly better in London and Paris (then Tokyo) than in smaller cities, but all the above fare quite well in this regard.

    Restaurants are worst in Barcelona, then Berlin. Paris and Tokyo are probably the world's two best cities for food, but Brussels, London, are also great. Rome and Florence are good, but lack diversity.

    F. Consumer goods

    Obviously best in the three metropolis : London, Paris and Tokyo. Brussels being so cosmopolitan, everything can be found. Less choice in Mediterranean cities. Prices are the highest in London, followed by Paris. It is cheapest in Barcelona, then Berlin.

    G. Housing

    Sucks big time in Tokyo and East Berlin. Some of the best houses in the world are to be found in London, Paris, Florence and Rome, but prices go up accordingly. Brussels has one of the best quality/price ratio.

    H. Natural environment

    The climate is best in the Mediterranean, worst in Tokyo (muggy summers, chilly winters). Paris, London and Brussels are similar. Berlin a bit less good (colder winters). Natural disasters are only a problem in Tokyo (earthquakes, typhoons). Tokyo is also the least green city. The greenest is Brussels (over 50% of greenery), followed by Berlin.

    I. Beauty & atmosphere

    Tokyo is the ugliest, but has "sexy" (although neurotic) atmosphere. European cities listed are very beautiful, except Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona. East Berlin is absolutely ugly. Most of the city was razed in 1945, so there isn't many historic buildings left. Brussels has some beautiful neighbourhood and monuments, but a lot of ugly parts too. Barcelona is ok, but not exceptionally beautiful compared to Paris or Rome.

    The atmosphere is warmer and more relax in Italy and Spain. Parisian can be a P.I.T.A. (rude, arrogant, dangerous drivers...). Brussels can be very friendly and polite, but it tends to be hard to get into a social circle for outsiders. Barcelona is certainly friendlier for (Catalan-speaking) Spaniards than foreigners. The most welcoming cities would be London, Florence, and Rome.

    J. Pollution, noise and cleanliness

    No big winner here, except maybe Tokyo for cleanliness and air pollution.
    Mediterranean cities are more noisy than average (honking, late partying, scooters everywhere). Paris has too much traffic, making it too noisy and polluted. Central Paris and Brussels hav notoriously dirty pavements (not the nicer neighbourhoods though).


    My scores from 0 (worst) to 5 (best) for the 9 above citeria for the 8 cities (A/B/C/D/E/F/G/H/I/J) + overall rating :


    1) London : 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 5 + 2 = 40/50
    2) Rome : 4 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 2 = 36/50
    2) Brussels : 4 + 4 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2 = 36/50
    4) Paris : 4 + 4 + 5 + 4 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 35/50
    5) Florence : 4 + 3 + 4 + 2 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 2 = 34/50
    6) Tokyo : 4 + 4 + 2 + 5 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 32/50
    6) Berlin : 4 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 = 32/50
    8) Barcelona : 4 + 3 + 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 31/50
    Last edited by Maciamo; 29-04-10 at 09:06.
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    Interesting indeed! I have never lived in any of the cities mentioned for any length of time, so can't really comment... my current city is not on the list but I can't say I'm surprised!

    As a Brit it's nice to see that you rank London highly though. :) I think it is a nice city, on balance... (having visited only 6 out of the cities mentioned)... I wouldn't like to live there for permanently though... way too expensive.

    I found people in Paris to be pretty friendly... but having said that, I was speaking most of the time with immigrants rather than 'natives'!

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    This contradicts a survey which says Pamplona has the highest quality of life in Spain

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    The survey is three years old. Anything for 2009-2010?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cambria Red View Post
    The survey is three years old. Anything for 2009-2010?
    If you follow the link in source, you will get the latest ranking on Mercer's website. The European top 5 in 2009 is :

    1) Vienna
    2) Zurich
    3) Geneva
    4) Dusseldorf
    5) Munich

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
    This contradicts a survey which says Pamplona has the highest quality of life in Spain
    Each survey has its own series of criteria. It would be very unlikely that separate surveys achieve the same ranking based on different criteria - especially on a topic as subjective as quality of life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Each survey has its own series of criteria. It would be very unlikely that separate surveys achieve the same ranking based on different criteria - especially on a topic as subjective as quality of life.
    The survey seems to be based on big cities only

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    Yes, there is probably a minimum population number they use.
    Last edited by Cambrius (The Red); 30-04-10 at 04:35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
    The survey seems to be based on big cities only
    For all countries except Switzerland. I don't know why Mercer put Geneva (population 185,000) and Zurich (pop. 365,000) in the same category as cities of over 1 million inhabitants. There are hundreds of cities of that size just in Western Europe that would rank pretty high for quality of living.

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    I think these surveys are not objective are too objective, and that's the problem, I live in Spain and I see that in the ranking Madrid is 19 and Barcelona 18, when actually in fact, Barcelona is just the same as Madrid regarding infrastructure, but so much better regarding quality of life and beauty of the city itself, as a capital, Madrid is one of the ugliest capital I visited, even if like everywhere, you can find nice part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenix_jaybee View Post
    I think these surveys are not objective are too objective, and that's the problem, I live in Spain and I see that in the ranking Madrid is 19 and Barcelona 18, when actually in fact, Barcelona is just the same as Madrid regarding infrastructure, but so much better regarding quality of life and beauty of the city itself, as a capital, Madrid is one of the ugliest capital I visited, even if like everywhere, you can find nice part.
    Beauty is subjective. Personally I find Madrid more beautiful than Barcelona, although Barcelona is more pleasant to live thanks to the sea and the more friendly atmosphere. But beauty, pleasantness and friendliness cannot be gauged objectively and therefore are not used for ranking cities by quality of living. What matters is statistics.

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    Hey that list is quite crazy,i am just shoecke dnot even a single city from Switzerland;Bern,Zurich,Geneva,Interlaken .Had they forgot while preparing this list and also surprising where is Venice?..This list must be revamped.

    Regards: Bebo Kobo

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricjoseph96 View Post
    Hey that list is quite crazy,i am just shoecke dnot even a single city from Switzerland;Bern,Zurich,Geneva,Interlaken .Had they forgot while preparing this list and also surprising where is Venice?..This list must be revamped.

    Regards: Bebo Kobo
    The list is for the EU. Switzerland is not in the EU.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenix_jaybee View Post
    I think these surveys are not objective are too objective, and that's the problem, I live in Spain and I see that in the ranking Madrid is 19 and Barcelona 18, when actually in fact, Barcelona is just the same as Madrid regarding infrastructure, but so much better regarding quality of life and beauty of the city itself, as a capital, Madrid is one of the ugliest capital I visited, even if like everywhere, you can find nice part.
    I agree with that! In terms of ranking it should be the opposite. These rankings are always subjective to a certain extent. It would be interesting to know all the criterion that the evaluated the cities by. Anybody know those?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricjoseph96 View Post
    Hey that list is quite crazy,i am just shoecke dnot even a single city from Switzerland;Bern,Zurich,Geneva,Interlaken.
    Zu teuer !!!

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    I don't like any European city.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reinaert View Post
    I don't like any European city.
    And in how many have you lived ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reinaert View Post
    I don't like any European city.
    You don't like the dutch people, you don't like any european city, what's with this self-hating ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
    You don't like the dutch people, you don't like any european city, what's with this self-hating ?
    I am just an honest person.

    With people it's just like with rats, if too many live in the same area, aggression is spoiling the fun of life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    And in how many have you lived ?
    I worked and lived in 3 cities during my life, but I don't like them.
    Too crowded. Parking tickets. Dirt. Brutal behavior. Etc. Etc.

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    Maciamo
    It seems to be very difficult someone finds objective criteria by which cities could be the appropriate measure.

    But it is not impossible to clearly define such criteria.

    Also, it is difficult to compare a city of 300,000 inhabitants and 3000000.

    So it might be better to make certain categories, probably would be at the top as a criterion for the category: number of population.

    I visited some of these cities and personally the biggest impression on me has left Berlin, (I speak from the point of choice for life), but since I will travel more around the Mediterranean next years, so probably will highly valued some Mediterranean city from the list.

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    Mercer has released its 2011 city ranking for Quality of Living.

    1) Vienna
    2) Zurich
    3 Auckland
    4) Munich
    5) Düsseldorf
    -) Vancouver
    7) Frankfurt
    8) Geneva
    9) Bern
    -) Copenhagen
    11) Sydney
    12) Amsterdam
    13) Wellington
    14) Ottawa
    15) Toronto
    16) Hamburg
    17) Berlin
    18) Melbourne
    19) Luxembourg
    20) Stockholm


    Here is the top 20 for the EU :

    1) Vienna
    2) Munich
    3 Düsseldorf
    4) Frankfurt
    5) Copenhagen
    6) Amsterdam
    7) Hamburg
    8) Berlin
    9) Luxembourg
    10) Stockholm
    11) Brussels
    12) Nuremberg
    13) Dublin
    14) Stuttgart
    15) Paris
    16) Oslo
    17) Helsinki
    18) London
    19) Lyon
    20) Barcelona

    There hasn't been so much change since I started this thread 4 years ago.

    Interestingly not a single US city made it to the world top 20, while Canadian cities rank quite high. The first city in the USA is Honolulu, Hawaii. Having been there, it only confirms what I wrote above about the poor choice of criteria to determine the quality of living. Honolulu wouldn't rank in my top 500 of cities where I wished to live. It's extremely remote from everything, rather boring (in every respects: culture, activities, climate...), doesn't have much history, and the food is among the worst I have had on this planet. Oahu feels like a place of forced exile to me (a bit like Napoleon in St Helena).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Interestingly not a single US city made it to the world top 20, while Canadian cities rank quite high. The first city in the USA is Honolulu, Hawaii. Having been there, it only confirms what I wrote above about the poor choice of criteria to determine the quality of living. Honolulu wouldn't rank in my top 500 of cities where I wished to live. It's extremely remote from everything, rather boring (in every respects: culture, activities, climate...), doesn't have much history, and the food is among the worst I have had on this planet. Oahu feels like a place of forced exile to me (a bit like Napoleon in St Helena).
    I disagree about Honolulu. It has a lot of local culture; it's a really interesting Anglo-American/East Asian/Polynesian mix that you don't get anywhere else in the world. It has a ton of activities... well, at least if you like the ocean. It has a tropical climate, which a lot of people like, and it's not exactly a "boring" one. It has a history I find interesting, personally. And I like Hawaiian food. The only thing you wrote about it that I really agree with is that it's too isolated.

    Your objections do highlight a problem with these sorts of studies, though. You'd likely be miserable in Honolulu, and thereby have a lower quality of life there than in places ranked below it. So I prefer "where should you live?"-type quizzes better than these sorts of surveys that pretend to be objective.

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