It’s nicknamed the “city of dreams,” and it seems the Austrian capital may just be a dream place to live.
The ranking of the world’s most liveable cities for 2023 has just been released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and Vienna has come out on top yet again.
The EIU, a sister organization to The Economist, ranked 173 cities around the world on a number of significant factors, including health care, education, stability, infrastructure and environment.
Vienna held onto its first place spot on the EIU’s Global Liveability Index, winning praise for its reliable infrastructure, standout culture and entertainment and impeccable education and health services.
The city, which has occupied the top position several times over the years, was closely followed by Denmark’s Copenhagen, which retained its second place position.
While Australia’s Melbourne and Sydney had dropped down the list in recent years, with Sydney dropping out of the top 10 recently and Melbourne tying for 10th place with Japan’s Osaka in 2022, both have shot back up, taking third and fourth place respectively.
Canada was well represented this year, with three of its cities – Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto — landing a spot in the top 10.
Meanwhile, Switzerland received two top 10 entries, with Zurich taking sixth place and Geneva tying for seventh place with Calgary.
Osaka, which saw a small boost in its culture and environment ratings due to the withdrawal of Covid-related restrictions, rounds out the top 10.
“The removal of covid-related restrictions has overall boded well for global liveability in 2023,” Upasana Dutt, Head of Liveability Index at EIU, said in a statement.
“Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems, with some notable improvements in cities across developing economies of Asia and the Middle East.
“As the world’s political and economic axis continues to shift eastwards, we expect the cities in these regions to move slowly up our liveability rankings.”
Movers and shakers
Although Europe had a strong showing at the top of the list, European destinations also dominated the list of cities that suffered the biggest drops down the rankings this year.
The UK capital London and Sweden’s capital Stockholm both found themselves falling down the rankings, with the former dropping 12 places to 46th and the latter dropping 22 spots to 43rd position.
And after entering the liveability survey for the first time in 2022 at No. 35, Scotland’s capital Edinburgh fell to 58th place this year.
“None of these cities has seen a particularly sharp decline in their index scores, but they have failed to make the gains that many other cities – particularly those in Asia – have made in the past year,” reads the report.
The average index score across 172 cities (eliminating Kyiv in Ukraine) has now reached 76.2 out of 100, the highest score in 15 years.
According to the report, health care scores have improved the most, while those for education, culture and entertainment, and infrastructure are also higher.
However, stability has suffered a “marginal” decline due to “instances of civil unrest in many cities amid a cost-of-living crisis, as well as an uptick in crime in some cities.”
“Of the five categories covered by our index, only stability has seen a decline,” says Barsali Bhattacharyya, Industry Research Manager, EIU.
“Strains on public order and economic headwinds have also increased instances of crime in some cities, and this will continue to be a risk for the future.
“All of this suggests that stability scores in our Liveability Index are unlikely to recover quickly.”
Honolulu, Hawaii’s biggest city was the highest US entry, coming in 25th place.
The popular destination, home to the famous Waikiki beach, moved up six spots this year thanks to improvements in health care scores, “partly owing to the removal of covid-related stress on its healthcare system.”
However, fellow US cities San Diego, which ranked at 61 on the list, and Los Angeles, 57, both dropped 17 places.
There was little change at the bottom of the list this year, with those cities plagued by ongoing civil unrest and military conflicts, amongst other issues, scoring the lowest.
Algeria’s Algiers, Libya’s Tripoli and Syria’s Damascus were ranked the three least liveable cities in the world.
Damascus, consistently one of the lowest-ranked cities in the survey, has seen no improvement in its liveability scores this year.
However, Ukrainian city Kyiv, which was missing from the 2022 list due to Russia’s invasion in February 2022, fell down the list this year as a direct result of the impact of the war, and is now ranked among the 10 least liveable cities in the world.
“The war in Ukraine and the resulting economic and political disruption are affecting liveability in many European cities,” reads the report.
“Unsurprisingly, this is most noticeable in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, which re-joins the survey this year.”
2023’s Global Liveability Index: The top 10
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Melbourne, Australia
4. Sydney, Australia
5. Vancouver, Canada
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Calgary, Canada
7. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Toronto, Canada
10. Osaka, Japan