In which city would you like to live, and why ?

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FastCompany recently posted a visual ranking of The 10 Happiest Cities In The World. The survey was actually conducted by GfK Custom Research North America. It is based on the interviews of 10,000 people from 29 countries attempting to assess their level of happiness. The criteria included outdoor attractions, culture locations, shopping centres, performances, and amusement.

The world's 10 happiest cities were :

  1. Rio de Janeiro
  2. Sydney
  3. Barcelona
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Melbourne
  6. Madrid
  7. San Francisco
  8. Rome
  9. Paris
  10. Buenos Aires


I have to admit that I don't understand how they came up with this ranking. If you look at the scores on the inforgraphic, Paris should come on top, with a total score of 502, against only 113 for Rio.

Then, the criteria seem to bear little relation to what I would associate with happiness. Shopping centres, really ? For young single women with a lot of free time and disposable income, maybe. But for the rest of us ? We live in the age where almost everything can be ordered online. What difference does it make whether you live in a megapolis or in the countryside if you shop online ?

Even performances and cultural activities are reserved for a specific segment of society. I am an intellectual and I have an artistic side, but I never feel the need go to the theatre (except if one means cinema), to a concert (I prefer listening to music at home), to an art gallery or museum (except if I am sightseeing while travelling, but not where I live).

What I would think matters in a city to be:

- the safety (low crime rate, political stability, lack of frequent natural disasters)
- the food (both the quality of restaurants and of what's available in supermarkets and markets)
- the manners of the locals (how well-behaved and polite the locals are; I don't like honk-happy drivers, people skipping queues, throwing rubbish in the street, making noise in the street at night, etc.)
- the climate (I dislike both harsh winters and hot summers)
- the beauty of the place (architecture mostly, but also lack of vandalism)
- the cleanliness (never nice to walk in dog turds or see and smell rubbish everywhere)
- how green the city is (lots of parks, low air pollution, proper recycling)
- the socio-economic background (high purchasing power, little social inequality, low corruption)
- how progressive is the local culture (social freedoms, low religiosity)

The shopping and entertainment scene is irrelevant in my eyes.

The first reason I can't understand why Rio is on top is that it is such an unsafe city, where you can get your hand cut off by a mobster on a bike who just wants to steal your watch. The climate is another reason I wouldn't like Rio, or any tropical place, but I know that's highly subjective.

Paris cannot possibly rank very high because, despite its architectural beauty and excellent food, the locals have terrible manners, many streets and metro stations are filthy, and a third of the city could be considered unsafe (80% if you count the suburbs). It is the case of most big French cities, although the gap between the positive (beauty+food) and negative (manners+safety) is most striking in Paris.

Brussels can feel like a major provincial French city in many regards, but one with a very large international community. Brussels has the peculiarity of not feeling like one city, but a collection of towns. There are huge differences between its richer and poorer halves for everything in the list bar climate. The best neighbourhoods in Brussels have almost everything right. The worst have everything wrong.

London would rank high in my personal ranking. The food scene is the weakest point, except if you are ready to pay for good restaurants. Air pollution and recycling could also be better.

Nordic cities, Copenhagen and Stockholm in particular, have a good overall rating in my eyes. The main drawback are the dark winters (not that bad in Copenhagen though). The local cuisine used to be an issue like in Britain, but has been improving considerably with the new Scandinavian cuisine, especially in Copenhagen.

Amsterdam was in the top 10 in the survey, but I don't see what it has than Scandinavian cities lack - except the cannabis coffee shops, which are not a quality in my eyes. In many ways, Amsterdam is on a par with Copenhagen. I would rank Stockholm higher for aesthetic beauty and greenery.

The weak point of large German cities is their (postwar) architecture (Düsseldorf, Cologne and most of Berlin are just so bleak and depressing). But apart from that they do pretty well. That's perhaps why Swiss cities and Vienna, who didn't suffer war destruction, tend to outperform German cities in Quality of Living indexes.

Italian cities perform very well on most points except manners, corruption, and depending on the place also cleanliness and safety (both abysmal in Naples). Southern Italy of course has socio-economic issues and higher religiosity. Italian cities with beautiful historical centres like Rome, Florence and Venice have narrow streets and terrible traffic and parking problems. Noise is also a serious issue for those living in the historical centre.

Japan has the problem of earthquakes, which makes it very difficult to buy a house there in all peace of mind. Japanese cities perform exceptionally well for safety, food, cleanliness and public manners, but they are very ugly, have very little greenery (except Kyoto), and summers are unbearably hot and muggy (except in Hokkaido, which in exchange has harsh winters).

I have lived in Barcelona, but didn't like it, although I can't exactly point out why because there isn't anything inherently wrong with the place. Like in Paris, he negative comes more from the people than the place. I have been all around Spain and wasn't impressed by the food and local manners. Like in Italy (and all southern Europe), Spanish cities are really quite noisy. The fact that people party all night, roam the streets nosily at night with little respect for people trying to sleep doesn't make it any better. The constant reminders everywhere (crosses, statuettes of the Virgin Mary on façades, religious festivals, superstitions) that these are strongly Catholic countries is also annoying.

I have been to Sydney and Melbourne, and can see the attraction of living there. The weak points are the sprawling suburbs, the too hot summers, the isolation from the rest of the world (not a lot of choice for your holidays if you don't want to travel to 10 to 30 hours by plane), and the various environmental safety concerns (high UV, long list of poisonous animals that could end up in your garden).

I can't say much for American cities as I have never lived in any. In general, safety tends to be more of an issue than in Europe because of the guns and big gap between the rich and the poor. Religiosity is also much higher, which is a serious repellent for me. Apart from the Southwest, US cities have a continental climate with both harsh winters and hot summers. Food is usually worse than in Europe, except perhaps in New York and California.

Canadian cities are of course even worse than American ones climate-wise, but are much safer, and I found Canadian people to be exceptionally polite and well mannered.


Overall, the European cities (over 300,000 inhabitants) that I would rank highest are Stockholm, London, Vienna, Zürich, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. In the USA, I would agree that San Francisco seems the most attractive. In Canada and Australia there isn't that much differences between major cities.
 
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Cape Town
Montreal
New york city
Petra, Jordan
San Fransisco
 
I was in quite a lot of European cities (including Paris, London, Brussels, Rome, Athens, Prague etc.) but for me Berlin is the best (according given criteria). In Berlin I would first like to live, it won me for life.
 
I don't really like cities except the very small ones, that are more like towns. Although then i'd prefer to live in a small village or single homestead.
 
I would like to live in a city where life is easy, people are kind and prices are not so high. Maybe San Fransisco attracts me from the list.
 
I would like to live in a city where life is easy, people are kind and prices are not so high. Maybe San Fransisco attracts me from the list.

You won't get any of those three things in San Francisco... especially not the "prices not so high" part.
 
You won't get any of those three things in San Francisco... especially not the "prices not so high" part.
I'm just back from New Orleans. Big Easy might be the place for GarryGP. Food is good too.
 
You won't get any of those three things in San Francisco... especially not the "prices not so high" part.

I wasn't in America. Which cities are the best to your opinion compared ratio prices/quality of life?
 
What could you say about Rome? I always dream to tavel there and cannot say anything about daily life. I suppose it is expensive city to live in, am I right?
 
..........

Canadian cities are of course even worse than American ones climate-wise, but are much safer, and I found Canadian people to be exceptionally polite and well mannered.

......

The climate is actually quite nice in Vancouver and Victoria, on the coast of British Columbia, although you may get tired of the amount of rain in Vancouver in winter. And both cities are expensive by Canadian standards, especially Vancouver. But snow and sub-zero temperatures are a rarity, even in January.
 
The climate is actually quite nice in Vancouver and Victoria, on the coast of British Columbia, although you may get tired of the amount of rain in Vancouver in winter. And both cities are expensive by Canadian standards, especially Vancouver. But snow and sub-zero temperatures are a rarity, even in January.

What can you say about prices? Is it expensive to live there?
 
What can you say about prices? Is it expensive to live there?

There are some statistics at this website.

www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=Canada&city=Vancouver

You'll see that the cost of housing in Vancouver is much more expensive than in most Canadian cities, especially for anyone who wants to buy. Vancouver has all the benefits of a large city, plus a mild climate created by the Pacific Current, and ocean and mountains, so a lot of us would move there if we could afford it.
 
What can you say about prices? Is it expensive to live there?
Usually if city is expensive it means that there is a good economy their (strong local economy). Therefore people have jobs and make a lot of money in this city. People have lots of money, this creates inflationary pressure, and prices go up in this city or country.
And vice versa, if economy sucks, people are poor, the local prices are low, especially for local production like food and houses. If you live in Ukraine then you are familiar with the later.

Don't be afraid of expensive cities, the life is good there. :)
 
There are some statistics at this website.

You'll see that the cost of housing in Vancouver is much more expensive than in most Canadian cities, especially for anyone who wants to buy. Vancouver has all the benefits of a large city, plus a mild climate created by the Pacific Current, and ocean and mountains, so a lot of us would move there if we could afford it.

Thanks for the statistics.(y) I do not know much on the forum yet, because I am a fresher here, but I will learn soon.
 
Usually if city is expensive it means that there is a good economy their (strong local economy). Therefore people have jobs and make a lot of money in this city. People have lots of money, this creates inflationary pressure, and prices go up in this city or country.
And vice versa, if economy sucks, people are poor, the local prices are low, especially for local production like food and houses. If you live in Ukraine then you are familiar with the later.

Don't be afraid of expensive cities, the life is good there. :)

LeBrok, you know, maybe I will seem not patriotic. In spite of that I was born in Ukraine and during some time of a year I live there, I will never advise any person move there. No,no, no. No, at any price. People are not just poor here, people are like beggars. They are miserable at any sense. They earn miserable money. And generally, they live in miserable country.
 
GarryJP, if you've looked at the information, you can see that pretty much any place in Canada is cheaper than Vancouver, but where housing is cheap it's because there aren't enough jobs or jobs don't pay a lot. And the weather is good only on the west coast of Canada, where the Pacific Ocean warms it. The east coast weather isn't too bad, because of the Atlantic Ocean, but the economy there isn't very good. And the climate in the rest of Canada will remind you of the Ukraine or, in some parts, Siberia. Despite that, I think life here in Canada is much better than the Ukraine, based only on what I've read of the Ukraine. It will probably take a long time to fix the problems you have there and I gather that the ethnic tensions may not be very fixable.
 
GarryJP, if you've looked at the information, you can see that pretty much any place in Canada is cheaper than Vancouver, but where housing is cheap it's because there aren't enough jobs or jobs don't pay a lot. And the weather is good only on the west coast of Canada, where the Pacific Ocean warms it. The east coast weather isn't too bad, because of the Atlantic Ocean, but the economy there isn't very good. And the climate in the rest of Canada will remind you of the Ukraine or, in some parts, Siberia. Despite that, I think life here in Canada is much better than the Ukraine, based only on what I've read of the Ukraine. It will probably take a long time to fix the problems you have there and I gather that the ethnic tensions may not be very fixable.

Thanks for your mind. I support your thought life in Canada much better than in Ukraine despite all inconveniences and not so hight level of life there. You know, what you read about Ukraine in the net or newspapers is a nicer part of news and of that what occurs in reality.
 
There are really so many great cities throughout the world, it's pretty hard to make a choice. I remember being in Hamburg before and it was amazing - beautiful lake right in the middle of the city and a great lively buzz.
 
Has anyone spent time living in Vienna? Any friends of mine who visited it liked it very much (except for the swarms of drunken German tourists in the summer) but I was wondering what it would be like to live there full time.
 

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