As future expats trying to decide where to live, we have to balance all sorts of important issues: quality of life, health care, affordability, weather and climate seem to top everyone’s lists. The Economist recently ranked cities worldwide for Quality of Life.
- Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Melbourne, Australia
- Vienna, Austria
- Toronto, Canada
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Helsinki, Finland
- Sydney, Australia
- Perth, Australia
- Adelaide, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
Here’s their explanation for what went into a top rank:
“Cities that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density. This often fosters a broad range of recreational availability without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure. Seven of the top ten scoring cities are in Australia and Canada, where population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per sq km respectively compare with a global (land) average of 45.65 and a US average of 32.”
The City of New York is in 56th place, mostly due to perceived threats of terrorism and the amount of crime.
Unfortunately, the best city to live in might not be the best to do business in. . .
For Business, Check a Different List
If you’re planning to support yourself abroad by starting a business, though, you might want to take a look at another list, released in May.
The World’s 26 Best Cities for Business, Life and Innovation takes a very different tack.
- New York, New York, US — best in “cultural vibrancy,” entrepreneurial environment and international tourists, but bad commute times characterize the #1 city on the list. (No mention here of terrorism or crime. . .)
- Toronto, Canada — Quality of living, clean air and lots of leisure activities as well as an excellent entrepreneurial environment, but cost of public transportation is high
- San Francisco, California, US — Best educated population, lots of leisure activities and life satisfaction, and a terrific entrepreneurial environment put San Francisco on the list despite it’s lack of foreign capital investment
- Stockholm, Sweden — For a small city (under 1 million), Stockholm is very impressive. It’s #1 in “clean air, digital economy activity, entrepreneurial environment, green space, intellectual property protection, Internet access, R&D spending, political stability, and traffic congestion, #2 in broadband quality, business trip index, libraries with public access, life satisfaction, literacy.” On the downside? It’s last in “skyline impact” and taxes are high
- Sydney, Australia — near the top in nearly all categories, multiple surveys say it’s the best place to start a business. It also has the highest-cost public transportation
- London, England — has a lot going for it, including the best end-of-life care, financial and business employment and attracting foreign investment, but hampered by high real estate costs, commute times and an older workforce
- Chicago, Illinois, US — Lifestyle satisfaction, a good digital economy and entrepreneurial activity, but not much foreign capital investment or tourism
- Paris, France — Tops in protecting intellectual property, a highly educated population, good public transportation and lots to do, but not an easy place to do business and high taxes
- Singapore — Low crime, low traffic congestion, easy hiring are all good, but Singapore comes in last in renewable energy
- Hong Kong, China –low inflation, low crime rates and easy hiring are attractive to business investors, but it also has the most expensive business space and not enough hospital beds
- Houston, Texas, US — low cost to own business space, low commute times and low cost of living in general are good for Houston, but it ranks last in investing to create foreign jobs and international tourism
- Los Angeles, California, US — rated #2 in “entrepreneurial energy,” LA has a big digital economy and plenty of leisure time activities, but it’s at high risk for natural disaster and is poor in transportation and infrastructure
- Berlin, Germany — low traffic congestion, best commute times and low carbon footprint make it easier to do business in Berlin, but the average age of workers is high
- Tokyo, Japan — Good healthcare, plenty of Fortune 500 company headquarters and lots of research and development in Tokyo, but it’s got the highest cost of living and is the most susceptible to natural disasters
- Madrid, Spain — The city’s infrastructure is good, but unemployment is high and the city does poorly when it comes to starting a business and ease of hiring
- Seoul, S. Korea — Math and science are king in Seoul and it’s got the best broadband quality, but it also has the weakest currency
- Beijing, China — It’s an easy place to visit, with loads of hotel rooms and good airport access and public transportation, but it’s at the bottom in terms of carbon footprint and traffic congestion
- Abu Dhabi, UAE — lowest crime rate, and an easy place to hire, low air pollution and commute times and good access to hospitals are big pluses, but has the worst carbon footprint of any city on the list
- Shanghai, China — best at attracting outside capital and creating jobs, but poor literacy rates and difficulty getting visas bring down its ranking
- Mexico City, Mexico — tops the list for cost of living and skyscraper construction but has the worst air pollution and poor purchasing power
- Moscow, Russia — the city has a lot of green space, a well educated population and has the lowest risk of natural disaster, but that’s more than offset by the climate, uncertain political environment which adds to business risk, and lack of protection for intellectual property
- Santiago, Chile — cost of living, tax rate and commute times are excellent, but the city doesn’t have much green space, its hospitals are overtaxed and international flights are inadeqaute
- Istanbul, Turkey — lower air pollution, more skyscraper construction than most other cities, but inflation and quality of life are not so good
- Sao Paulo, Brazil — great carbon footprint, comfortable climate, not so great crime rate, tax rate and infrastructure
- Johannesburg, South Africa — did well in terms of cost, but not so much for health care, crime, and broadband quality
- Mumbai, India — best of the bunch in terms of renewable energy use, but hurt by inflation and low wages
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