European Cities Dominate Quality of Living Ranking

May 26, 2010 ( - Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey.

Zurich and Geneva follow in second and third position, respectively, while Vancouver and Auckland remain joint fourth in the rankings. European cities continue to dominate the rankings with 16 cities amongst the world’s top 25 cities for quality of living, according to a news release.   

In the U.K., London is the highest-ranking city at 39, followed by newcomer to the list Aberdeen (53), Birmingham (55), Glasgow (57) and Belfast (63). The lowest-ranking Western European cities are Leipzig (64) and Athens (75).

Levels of quality of living continue to improve in Eastern Europe, with most index scores increasing slightly. Prague is the highest-ranking city at 70 and its index score increased from 93.9 to 94.8 in 2010. Budapest follows in position 73 and Ljubljana in 77.

In the Americas, Canadian cities still dominate the top of the index for this region with Vancouver (4) retaining the top spot, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (16) and Montreal (21). Calgary ranks 28 on the overall quality of living ranking.

Honolulu (31) is the city in the U.S. with the highest quality of living, followed by San Francisco (32) and Boston (37). Chicago and Washington share position 45 and New York – the base city – is in position 49. Newly added cities Philadelphia and Dallas are ranked 55 and 61, respectively.

In Central and South America, Point-à-Pitre, capital of Guadeloupe and new to the index this year, ranks the highest for quality of living at 62. San Juan in Puerto Rico follows at 72 and Buenos Aires at 78. Havana (192) and Port-au-Prince (213) are the lowest-ranking cities in the region.

In the Middle East and Africa region Dubai (75) in the United Arab Emirates and Port Louis in Mauritius (82) are the cities with the best quality of living. Abu Dhabi (83), Cape Town (86) and Tunis (94) follow and are, along with Victoria in the Seychelles (95), Johannesburg (96) and Muscat in Oman (100), the region’s only other cities in the top 100. Following the revision of the index a selection of cities from this region has been added, including Doha in Qatar (110), Rabat in Morocco (112), Banjul in Gambia (164) and Abuja in Nigeria (205).

Baghdad (221) remains at the bottom of the table, though its index score has increased slightly (from 14.4 to 14.7 in 2010). A lack of security and stability continue to have a negative impact on Baghdad’s quality of living and its score remains far behind that of Bangui (27.4) in the Central African Republic which is second to last.

In Asia Pacific, Auckland (4) retains its position as the highest-ranking city for quality of living in the region. Sydney follows at 10, Wellington at 12, Melbourne at 18 and Perth at 21. At 26, Canberra is new to the index. Singapore remains the highest-ranking Asian city at 28, followed by Japanese cities Tokyo (40), Kobe and Yokohama (both at 41), Osaka (51) and Nagoya (57). 

The region’s lowest-ranking cities are Dhaka in Bangladesh (206) and two cities new to the list Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan (209) and Dushanbe in Tajikistan (210).

Eco Cities  

The Mercer 2010 Quality of Living Survey also identifies the cities with the best eco-ranking based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewage systems, air pollution, and traffic congestion. “A high-ranking eco-city optimises its use of renewable energy sources and generates the lowest possible quantity of pollution (air, water, noise, etc). A city’s eco-status or attitude toward sustainability can have significant impact on the quality of living of its inhabitants,” commented Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer, in the news release.  

In the eco-city index, Nordic cities fare particularly well with Helsinki (3) the highest-ranked in Europe, followed by Copenhagen (8) and Oslo in joint ninth place with Stockholm. Aberdeen (19) is the highest-ranking UK eco-city, followed by Belfast (30), Glasgow (47), London (63) and Birmingham (64).

Canadian and U.S. cities are strongly represented at the top of the eco-city ranking, both for this region and globally. Calgary grabs the top spot globally with a score of 145.7, closely followed by Honolulu (score 145.1) in second. Ottawa is in third position with a score of 139.9 and Minneapolis follows in sixth place (score 137.8). 

The highest-ranking Central and South American city is Pointe-à-Pitre (49), followed by San Juan (69) and Montevideo (70).  

In the Middle East and Africa region, most cities rank below 100. The highest-ranking cities are Cape Town (30), Victoria (38), Muscat (48), Johannesburg (54) and Abu Dhabi and Dubai (in joint 65). Antananarivo in Madagascar (217) is at the bottom of the list with an eco-city score of 39.7, while Baghdad is at 214, scoring 40.5.  

With a score of 138.9, Wellington (5) is the highest-ranking eco-city in the Asia Pacific region followed by Adelaide (7), Kobe (9), Perth (12) and Auckland (13). Dhaka in Bangladesh (220) ranks lowest with a score of 30.9.  

Mercer said individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Comparative quality of living indexes between a base city and a host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Further information is available from Mercer Client Services in Warsaw, on tel. +48 22 434 5383, or by visiting