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The annual Quality of Life Survey in Monocle magazine’s July issue has always functioned as an un-Places to Go list, with a collection of cities that are excellent places to live, work, and enjoy life rather than take a selfie atop a high-altitude attraction or embark on a safari.

For travelers, the list is typically one of second- or third-tier cities, mostly in northern Europe but also Australia and Asia. North and South America appear infrequently and Africa and the Middle East have never ranked. Neither has an Italian city, for that matter.

From a travel perspective, the list highlights how difficult it can be to live in tourist hubs like New York, London, or Rome, while also extolling the public transit benefits of Copenhagen, the smart urban planning of Portland, or the low-budget appeal of Berlin. In every case the selections are good for visitors, but not at the expense of locals.

This year’s list is less Scandinavian than ever, and demonstrates a change in the metrics used to rank the selections.

“We’ve given extra marks to cities that limit their nannying and we’ve tried to give value to places where there’s something else we know is vital: freedom, grit, independence, a joy with life,” said Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brûlé. “We’re frustrated with city councils that are too quick to say no, places where parents never let their children run free and capitals that seem opposed to the odd late night out.”

The Quality of Life Index follows shortly after the introduction in May of Monocle’s new travel guidebook series, as well as its forthcoming summer travel book The Escapist, which will appear in July.

The Monocle Quality of Life Survey 2015 from Monocle on Vimeo.

2015 Ranking City 2014 2013
1 Tokyo 2 4
2 Vienna 6 5
3 Berlin 14 20
4 Melbourne 3 2
5 Sydney 11 9
6 Stockholm 4 7
7 Vancouver 15 19
8 Helsinki 5 3
9 Munich 8 8
10 Zürich 7 6
10 Copenhagen 1 1
12 Fukuoka 10 12
13 Singapore 16 15
14 Kyoto 9 13
15 Paris 18 14
16 Madrid 17 18
17 Auckland 12 10
18 Lisbon 22 not ranked
19 Hong Kong 13 11
20 Amsterdam 19 22
21 Hamburg 20 16
22 Geneva not ranked not ranked
23 Oslo 24 not ranked
24 Barcelona 21 21
25 Portland 23 23
Tags: tokyo, tourism
Photo Credit: A coffee shop in Tokyo's Omotesando neighborhood. Monocle