Which is the best city in the world to live in?

1 July, 2024

How do you measure the sustainability of a country? The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has come up with a formula to help companies calculate the level of difficulty in different cities when relocating their staff. According to the Economist, the annual survey ranks 173 cities in five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. The map shows which cities scored best this year.

The best cities to live in

Vienna came out on top again, winning the title of the world’s most sustainable city for the third year in a row. The Austrian capital scored excellently in four of the index’s five categories, but its lack of major sporting events led to its lowest score of 93.5 out of 100 in the culture and environment category.

Copenhagen, Denmark, came second, while Zurich, Switzerland, moved up from sixth to third. Melbourne in Australia dropped from third to fourth place, while Calgary in Canada tied with Geneva in Switzerland for fifth place. Vancouver, Canada and Sydney, Australia are both in seventh place, while Osaka, Japan and Auckland, New Zealand complete the top 10.

While Western Europe performed well, with 30 cities averaging 92 out of 100, the region saw an overall decline in stability scores due to “increasing incidents of subversive protests” and crime.

In 23rd place, Honolulu, Hawaii was the highest ranked US city on the list, while Atlanta, Georgia moved up four places to 29th. Los Angeles was further down the list at 58th, while New York City came in at 70th.

North America achieved the highest average score for education. However, Canada’s scores for infrastructure were lower than last year due to the “acute housing crisis” affecting several regions.

“The situation is particularly worrying in Australia and Canada, where rental availability is at an all-time low and market prices have continued to rise despite interest rate hikes,” the report said.

Vancouver fell in the rankings, with Toronto (ninth on the list in 2023) dropping from the top 10 to 12th. The UK capital, London, was ranked the 45th most sustainable city in the world.

In Asia, Hong Kong saw the biggest improvement in its score since last year, rising from 61st to 50th thanks to improvements in its stability and healthcare scores.

Cities in the United Arab Emirates saw some of the biggest score increases this year, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai moving up the list, and Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia also making significant gains.

Who scored the lowest

War-ravaged Damascus remains at the bottom of the table. The Syrian capital was the least liveable city in the Index in 2013, scoring 30.7 points in 2024. Its stability score is 20, tied with Karachi as the lowest of all the cities surveyed.

Kyiv has also performed poorly in this category, which pushes it into the bottom ten of the table for the second year in a row. Tel Aviv shares the same poor stability score, and its infrastructure and culture and environment scores dropped by 7.2 and 6.7 points respectively amid the war in Gaza. The Israeli city fell 20 places in the ranking to 112th. It had the biggest fall in this year’s survey.

After a sharp decline and recovery during the Covid years, the average sustainability score worldwide rose by just 0.06 points last year. The cost of living crisis is having a negative impact. Although inflation is falling in many countries, its impact, particularly on housing costs, is still being felt. High prices are weighing on infrastructure scores, particularly in Australia and Canada. The quality of urban living may be at its highest level for more than a decade, but not everyone is experiencing it equally.

Global Sustainability Index 2024: Top 10

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Melbourne, Australia
  5. Calgary, Canada
  6. Geneva, Switzerland
  7. Sydney, Australia
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Osaka, Japan
  10. Auckland, New Zealand
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