The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest “liveability” ranking is out, and it won’t make for happy reading in the world’s biggest business centers.
The rankings are intended to measure the relative comfort of 140 cities where expat executives might conceivably find themselves living or visiting. (This means that conflict hot spots such as Baghdad and Kabul are excluded.) Companies often use the scores to calculate “hardship” allowances given to employees sent to work there.
Thus, what’s “liveable” isn’t necessarily the same as what’s the most vibrant or exciting (which might come with some element of danger or inconvenience). That’s why big, crowded cities such as New York and London rank so far down the list—55th and 56th, respectively. “All suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than would be deemed comfortable,” the EIU says.
As in previous editions of the rankings, cities in Australia and Canada dominate—Melbourne was at the top for the fourth year in a row. Medium-sized cities in sparsely-populated developed countries are at an advantage in the EIU’s methodology, because they “foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.” Vienna, Helsinki, and Auckland round out the non-Australian and Canadian cities in the latest top 10.
That said, every one of the top 64 cities scores high enough for a place in the top tier of liveability, and “should be considered broadly comparable,” according to the EIU. The research firm suggests that no extra payment should be needed to entice an expat moving to any of these cities, from Melbourne in first place to Santiago, Chile in 64th. By contrast, at least 20% of salary is recommended as a hardship allowance for expats dispatched to cities in the bottom tier, including Harare, Karachi, or Damascus.
Still, even if the margin between Melbourne in first place and New York in 56th place is relatively small (10.9 percentage points on a 100-point scale, to be exact), what’s compelling about the report is its definitive ranking of cities. With that in mind, here is the list of all 54 cities deemed more “liveable” than London and New York:
- Hong Kong
- Washington DC
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- New York
This story originally appeared on Quartz, a Skift content partner.
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