Canada and Australia have the most liveable cities in the world, according to the latest survey carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit of 140 locations around the globe.
Melbourne tops the list, followed by Vienna in Austria, then three Canadian cities, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, then Adelaide and Sydney in Australia, Helsinki in Finland, Perth in Australia and Auckland in New Zealand.
The score and ranking of the top 65 cities remain identical to the last survey six months ago and the research reports says that this may primarily reflect renewed stability as some economies begin to recover from the global economic crisis of a few years ago.
But it points out that the continuing crisis in the eurozone and tighter fiscal budgets may have also slowed planned improvements, meaning that scores have remained static rather than moving up or down.
‘Certainly, infrastructural development has been a driver over the last few years, with improvements to infrastructure in key cities in Australia, where the federal government initiated an ambitious long term road building programme in 2010. Vancouver is also embarking on a series of high profile projects. Work began on an ‘Evergreen’ mass transit line in 2012 and the authorities are reported to be considering measures such as ‘scramble intersections’ or road tolls to counteract congestion,’ it says.
‘For cities in general, these measures will no doubt have a long term benefit, but in the short term they can be disruptive. Many of these schemes are working towards long term goals and thus the overall impact on scores in the top tier of cities is marginal. This is particularly the case in most developed cities given their already high score in these areas,’ it adds.
There remains little difference between any of the ten most liveable cities as only 1.8 percentage points separate Melbourne in first place and Auckland in tenth place.
The general conditions required for a location to be awarded a high liveability score continue to be well reflected in Australian and Canadian cities.
The report says that it may be argued that violent crime is on an upward trend in the top tier of cities, but these figures should be put into context. Melbourne and Vancouver recorded murder rates of 2.7 and 2.5 per 100,000 population respectively in the year 2010/11. In Vienna, a city of 1.7 million people, only 18 murders were reported in 2010, or about 1.06 per 100,000. These figures compare with a US average of 4.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 2010 with New York City reporting a rate of almost 6.4 in the same year. In South Africa, the rate was 31.9 in 2010/2011.
The cities that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.
It points out that when it comes to a great place to live big buzz cities such as New York, London, Paris and Tokyo are all prestigious hubs with a wealth of recreational activity, but all suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems. Also wages, the cost of living and personal taste for a location can offset liveability factors.
The EIU Index is based on five categories; education, culture and environment, stability, healthcare and infrastructure.