Planning a move to a new city? You may want to take a look at the 2018 Quality of Living Ranking. The new list comes from Mercer, the human resources consulting company that has published its ranking for the past 20 years.
The company claims that its survey measures the following parameters in 450 cities: availability and quality of consumer goods, economic environment, housing, medical and health considerations, natural environment, political and social environment, public services and transport, recreation, schools and education, and the overall sociocultural environment. The exact methodology–how it measures these parameters, how subjective or objective are they, or how much weight each is given–isn’t clear. Yet it’s a good baseline for research if you’re planning a move, nonetheless.
In the list’s top 10, you’ll find cities full of arts and culture–and plenty of green space. Vienna, the top pick, has long been high on many urbanists’ lists, thanks to its affordable housing and transportation. Another bonus? Great bars.
All these cities are livable for sure–at least on paper. There’s one important thing that the ranking misses, though: the weather. Any human being who didn’t grow up on McMurdo Station will find the weather in most of the top 10 cities horrible. Lack of sunlight is a major source of depression, and it should be one of the main objective measurements of livability in any city. Most importantly, keep in mind that each person has their own unique perspective on what makes a city livable. If you’re a single 25-year-old, would you rather chaotic-but-buzzing New York or clockwork-but-soulless Zurich? New York, all the way.
A more useful ranking would be a dynamic one, in which you can enter what you consider essential to your happiness to receive a ranking of cities most livable for you. If you want to move cities, make it your mission to go there for at least two weeks in the fall or winter and see how it feels. Then do your research–whether it’s about schools for your kids or bars for yourself. Those should be your benchmarks. This ranking is just the starting point.