The capital of Austria has for the sixth time claimed the top spot in Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey, which ranks hundreds of cities on the standard of living they have to offer — things like affordable housing, economic opportunity, personal safety, and thirty-six other factors that make for the good life.
As the Guardian reports, the city of 1.8 million has a lot going for it, especially when it comes to offering an accommodating environment.
Viennese-born Helena Hartlauer, 32, said she was not surprised at her city’s top position. The municipality’s social democratic government has a long tradition of investing in high-quality social housing, making Vienna almost uniquely affordable among major cities.
“I live in a 100sq metre turn-of-the-century apartment in a good area about 20 minutes’ walk into the city centre. But my rent is just €800 (£625) a month”. An equivalent apartment in London would cost upwards of £2,000, and even more in New York, ranked 44th in the table.
“You don’t realise how safe Vienna is until you head abroad”, said Hartlauer. “We also have terrific public transport, with the underground working 24 hours at weekends, and it only costs €1 per trip [for those who buy a €365 annual card]”.
As always, Germanic cities dominated the top ten, with the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva claiming second place and eighth place respectively, and the German cities of Munich, Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt in fourth, sixth, and seventh place, respectively.
Small Anglophone countries also performed well, with cities in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand being well represented among the top twenty-five.
As I discussed in a previous blog post about liveable cities, the best cities tend to be medium-sized, with low population density, lots of efficient public services and spaces, and municipal governments that take an active role in providing affordable housing, transportation, and the like.