Honolulu, San Francisco Top U.S. Cities in Quality of Living Survey

November 29, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Vienna has the best living standard in the world, according to the Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey.

Zurich and Auckland follow in second and third place, respectively, and Munich is in fourth with Düsseldorf and Vancouver sharing fifth place. Frankfurt is in seventh followed by Geneva in eighth, while Copenhagen and Bern share ninth place.  

In the U.S., Honolulu (29) and San Francisco (30) are the highest-ranking cities, followed by Boston (36). Chicago and Washington, D.C., are both ranked 43rd. Detroit (71) is the lowest-ranking of the U.S. cities that Mercer surveys.   

Globally, the cities with the lowest quality of living are Khartoum, Sudan (217); Port-au-Prince, Haiti (218); N’Djamena, Chad (219) and Bangui, Central African Republic (220). Baghdad, Iraq (221) ranks last.  

This year, the survey separately identifies those cities with the highest personal safety ranking based on internal stability, crime levels, law enforcement effectiveness and the host country’s international relations. Luxembourg tops this personal safety ranking, followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich – all ranked at number two. Vienna ranks fifth while Geneva and Stockholm both rank sixth.   

Baghdad (221) is the world’s least safe city, followed by N’Djamena, Chad (220); Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (219); Bangui, Central African Republic (218) and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (217).  

The highest-ranking U.S. cities on the personal safety list are Chicago, Honolulu, Houston and San Francisco, all of which ranked 53.   

Mercer conducts this survey to help governments and multinational companies compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. Mercer’s Quality of Living index list covers 221 cities, ranked against New York as the base city.


Canadian cities dominate the top of the ranking for the Americas. Vancouver (5) has the best quality of living and is followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15) and Montreal (22). Honolulu (29) and San Francisco (30) are the highest-ranking U.S. cities.   

In Central and South America, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe (63) ranks highest, followed by San Juan, Puerto Rico (72) and Montevideo, Uruguay (77). Port-au-Prince, Haiti (218) ranks lowest in the region.  

Canadian cities also dominate the higher end of the personal safety ranking for this region with Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver all ranked at 17. In the U.S., Chicago, Honolulu, Houston and San Francisco all rank 53. Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe (40) is again the highest-ranking city in Central and South America followed by Nassau, Bahamas (66); San Juan, Puerto Rico (79) and Panama City, Panama (92).   

At the other end of the personal safety scale, Caracas, Venezuela (205); Port-au-Prince, Haiti (202); Bogotá, Colombia (196) and Kingston, Jamaica (192) rank lowest in the region.  


Vienna is the European city with the highest quality of living. German and Swiss cities dominate the top of the ranking, with three cities each in the top 10. Zurich (2) is followed by Munich (4), Düsseldorf (5), Frankfurt (7) and Geneva (8), while Bern shares ninth place with Copenhagen.  

In the next tier are Amsterdam (12), Hamburg (16), Berlin (17), Luxembourg (19), Stockholm (20), Brussels (22), Nurnberg (24) and Dublin (26). Paris ranks 30 and is followed by Oslo (33), Helsinki (35) and London (38). Lisbon is number 41, Madrid is at 43 and Rome ranks 52. Prague, Czech Republic (69) is the highest-ranking Eastern European city, followed by Budapest, Hungary (73); Ljubljana, Slovenia (75); Vilnius, Lithuania (79) and Warsaw, Poland (84). The lowest-ranking European city is Tbilisi, Georgia (214).  

With seven cities in the top 10, European cities also fare well in the personal safety ranking. Luxembourg ranks highest followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich, which all rank second. Vienna (5) is ahead of Geneva and Stockholm (both rank 6). In Eastern Europe, Ljubljana (30) and Prague (47) rank highest for personal safety, whereas Moscow (199) and Tbilisi (215) rank lowest.

Asia Pacific  

Auckland (3) is the highest-ranking city for quality of living in the Asia-Pacific region and is followed by Sydney (11), Wellington (13), Melbourne (18) and Perth (21). The highest-ranking Asian cities are Singapore (25) and Tokyo (46). Hong Kong (70), Kuala Lumpur (76), Seoul (80) and Taipei (85) are other major Asian cities ranked in the top 100.   

Meanwhile, Dhaka, Bangladesh (204); Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (206) and Dushanbe, Tajikistan (208) rank lowest in the region.  

In eighth place, Singapore ranks highest for personal safety, followed by Auckland and Wellington – both ranked 9. Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney all rank 25, and all the Japanese cities on the list (Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya, Osaka and Yokohama) rank 31.   

The region’s lowest-ranking city for personal safety is Karachi, Pakistan (216).  

Middle East and Africa  

Dubai, UAE (74), ranks highest for quality of living across the Middle East and Africa and is followed by Abu Dhabi, UAE (78); Port Louis, Mauritius (82) and Cape Town, South Africa (88). Johannesburg ranks 94 and is followed by Victoria, Seychelles (95); Tel Aviv (99); Muscat, Oman (101) and Doha, Qatar (106).   

Africa has 18 cities in the bottom 25, including Bangui, Central African Republic (220); N’Djamena, Chad (219); Khartoum, Sudan (217) and Brazzaville, Congo (214). Baghdad (221) is the lowest-ranking city both regionally and globally.  

At 23, Abu Dhabi has the highest personal safety ranking in the Middle East and is followed by Muscat (29), Dubai (39) and Doha (67). Port Louis (59) and Victoria (79) are the only African cities in the top 100. Elsewhere in the region, Tunis, Tunisia ranks 140; Casablanca, Morocco is at 147 and Cairo, Egypt ranks 176.  

At 185,  Algiers, Algeria is followed by Tehran, Iran (188) and towards the bottom of the list is Tripoli, Libya (204). In terms of personal safety, Baghdad (221) is the lowest-ranking city regionally and globally along with N’Djamena, Chad (220); Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (219); Bangui, Central African Republic (218) and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (217).  

The worldwide rankings are produced annually from the most recent Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, conducted by Mercer. 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, at +48 22 434 5383 or online at http://www.mercer.com/qualityofliving.