Or says Monocle’s magazine’s annual Quality of Life survey, which ranks cities around the world based on metrics like crime rate, infrastructure, health care facilities opportunities, education and more.
This year’s index also added 22 other factors for consideration, from the cost of rent to access to outdoor activity.
So based on this expanded criteria, Japan’s largest city moved from an already respectable second place position last year, to the top of the world. Monocle noted Tokyo’s “defining paradox of heart-stopping size and concurrent feeling of peace and quiet” as well as its efficient public transit, great culinary offering, unmatched safety, and polite residents.
Interestingly enough, the magazine also admitted that “by any conventional measure Tokyo should be a disaster”, owing largely to its sheer size, which most cities would struggle to accommodate — it is a testament to the city’s success, and perhaps Japanese culture and society, that one could find safety and serenity in the presence of over 30 million people.
Indeed, it is unusual to see large cities rank high in these sorts of indexes; as noted in previous posts on the subject, medium sized cities tend to fare far better, in part due to having manageable populations and more space and resources to go around.
This ultimately remained the case for this year’s survey; among the best ranked cities were Vienna (which climbed from No. 6 last year to second place this year), Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, Vancouver, and Helsinki.
Berlin, Sydney, and Vancouver had not even made it into the top ten in 2014, suggesting that the new rankings — or some impressive local policies and developments — had led to some big positive changes in standard of living.
The previous No. 1, Copenhagen, Denmark, fell to tenth place (tied with Zurich, Switzerland), due mostly to the high cost of living and high taxes — though all things considered, that remains a pretty respectable ranking.
Rounding out the top 25 are two more Japanese cities (Fukuoka and Kyoto), two in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), Singapore, Paris (the only other metropolis in the list besides Tokyo), Auckland, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Geneva, Oslo, and Portland, Oregon (the only U.S. city in the top 25).
Please feel free to share your thoughts on these results, including any personal accounts you have with these cities.