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World’s Most Livable Cities

21 April 2011 12 Comments

When talking about the world’s most livable cities, the general opinion would tend to guide itself after a well defined set of notions: low cost of living and great employment opportunities. However, there are many more important aspects that make a city the best in terms of livability.

Firstly, the environmental factor plays a very important role. When people have the chance to live in an ultra clean city with low carbon footprint, and a home which is energy efficient, they can live healthily and pay less towards their bills.

Then, besides living in a city which has very good employment options, one has to think about the education of children as well. If all these are set, people would also like to live in a city that is beautiful, with many green open spaces like botanic gardens and national parks and long stretching beaches. One major factor brings about the other, and this is basically how the ring of “good living” is born.

Here is a list of 10 of the most livable cities in the world, which is not accidental, but it is the result of a thorough research of The Economist Intelligence Unit, based on a survey.

1. Vancouver, Canada

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According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Vancouver has been ranked no.1 on the list of the most livable cities in the world. The city’s most important target project is to become the “Greenest City” in the world by 2020.

Vancouver currently holds the record for the smallest carbon footprint city from the entire Northern American continent, where technology, planning and green building strategies are some of the best in the world.

A livable city is not only about the green factor, but also about infrastructure, health care system, education and culture, all of which are of the highest standards in Vancouver. It is also the city where only around 15% of the adults suffer from obesity, which means that people have a healthy mentality regarding nutrition.

Although housing prices are higher in Vancouver than in any other region of Canada, the standards of living are the best from any point of view. The city hosts 200+ natural parks that contribute greatly to the clean air the residents can enjoy.

2. Melbourne, Australia

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The city of Melbourne is a huge cultural centre of our World, where very high brow film and drama festivals, art exhibitions and literature world forums are being held. This is one of the reasons why Melbourne is considered the best city to live in for people to whom culture and the arts are top priorities.

The city is also a very important health research centre, with many neuroscience and biotechnical institutions operating there. Thanks to so many research institutions and health establishments, the medical system is able to offer top quality services for its residents. No wonder Melbourne ranks no. 1 on the list of life expectancy in Australia (80 for men and 84 for women).

After London, Tokyo and Boston, Melbourne is listed as the fourth best educational centre in the world. The city is constantly researching new ways of implementing eco-friendly living strategies for its residents (natural reserve parks, green buildings, electricity saving plans, etc.).

3. Vienna, Austria

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Vienna is Austria’s greatest cultural and economic centre, and it is one of the best cities to live in on the European continent. The motherland of Mozart, Vienna is a cultural land by tradition. Here opera, classical music concerts and fine arts exhibitions are constantly held, receiving visitors from all around the World.

Vienna hosts several huge wonderful parks, where the residents and visitors enjoy the fresh air and the cultural shows (musical shows or painting exhibitions).

The city is the home of many international organizations such as the UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), or the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe). Such high standard organisations make the city not only one of the most livable cities, but also one of the safest.

Vienna is a model environmental city for its neighbors, and where the urban quality of life is of very high standards. Almost 50% of all spaces are eco-friendly and green (including conservation areas, national parks, nature memorials, woodlands, botanic gardens, eco homes etc).

4. Toronto, Canada

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Ever since the 90’s, the Canadian mega city has worked on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. The result is that emissions have been reduced by 40%. From this point of view, Toronto is a highly regarded livable city because pollution is a smaller factor of concern. Through the Energy Retrofit Program, Toronto wants to reduce the energy used in buildings owned by the city, by at least 15%. Many buildings have also been equipped with solar panels and better insulation systems in order to build a truly eco-friendly city.

Some of the recently implemented green plans in the city include the developing of hybrid garbage packers, and the acquisition of buses that use the diesel electric hybrid engine.

Toronto is one of the best cities to live in, because education, the health system, infrastructure and the economy are all climbing on the ladder of top quality services. It is also the second choice after New York, for professionals who want a highly regarded career in the financial sector, since Toronto is an international centre for finances and business.

5. Calgary, Canada

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Calgary is a huge tourist centre for winter sports and eco-tourism themed visits. Thanks to the many so-called “Smart Growth” city plans, the city ranks on the number 5 most livable cities in the World according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. The creation of sustainable communities is very important and within these plans, a few important points include:

  • Reducing the car dependency- creating pathways, sidewalks and circuits that encourage people to circulate with public transportation vehicles or bicycles.
  • The development of truly healthy communities-promoting social inclusion through building many “meeting and recreational” areas within the city (parks, smart housing communities, special retirement centers, etc.)
  • Fostering economic well being and creating jobs for the citizens through local economic strength
  • The enhancement and protection of natural reservation areas- creating attractive green spaces through advanced landscaping designs.

Education is also a major important pillar in Calgary, with top schools in both the public and the private sector.

6. Helsinki, Finland

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Helsinki is the capital of Finland, and it is also the biggest city in the country. It has ~600,000 inhabitants, and it is the most populous city of Finland. Helsinki is currently working on adopting the Eco-Viiki environmental housing project, through which more ecologically sustainable homes will be constructed.

The economy of Helsinki is less based on heavy industry today, and more service-based. Financial sectors and telecommunications technology are two primary resources for Helsinki’s great economic power.

There is not one single spot in the Helsinki urban area that can be regarded as a slum. Thanks to the many humanitarian projects, even the poorer strata do live in decent houses/ condominiums. The city has 10 major Universities and 3 Polytechnic schools, which strengthens the fact that Helsinki is a major educational centre of Europe.

7. Sydney, Australia

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“Live Green” seems to be the motto of the Australian mega city, since both government and the residents do give a great importance to sustainable living. There are many local projects under development that will truly make Sydney one of the best places to live.

Beautiful architecture and the many open spaces within the city are the main factors that attract so many people to choose it as their hometown. The Royal National Park is the second oldest such open space in the World, and is located in Sydney, and there are several other national parks located in the metropolitan area alone.

Constant development in science, technology, planning, green life, and health is what puts Sydney on the 7th place on the list of the most livable cities.

Through the City Switch program, tenants are being aided to build themselves energy efficient homes, and in 2008 Sydney became the first carbon neutral city in Australia (through energy efficiency and renewable energy plans).

8. Perth, Australia

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Perth is the home of nearly 1,700,000 inhabitants who live in a clean and sustainable environment. Many choose to relocate to Perth from other parts of Australia mainly because it is a more isolated area and because the economy here is mainly service based, rather than relying on heavy industry.

The city is also a highly regarded educational centre with four major public universities with a tradition. Moreover, the city is also home to many important museums, art galleries, and several art festivals that are being held annually.

The Council of Perth is the main supporter of sustainable living plans, and it offers many grants and sponsorships to individuals or businesses that can make Perth an even better place for living.

9. Adelaide, Australia

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Adelaide occupies the 9th place on the list of the most livable cities. It is a very populous city, with its inhabitants outnumbering 1.2 million. Adelaide is a great tourist attraction, but it is also a much-favoured city for relocation. There are several cultural festivals held during the year, and the city is also a delight for people interested in food and wine culture. The long stretching beautiful beaches of Adelaide are yet one more reason for which people from different parts of Australia and the World favour it as a tourist destination.

It is a multicultural melting pot, where people of all nations have learned to live together and build a better environment for themselves. Adelaide is also the home of the best Environmental University in the World, where top quality research programs teach how to manage natural resources in the most efficient way.

10. Auckland, New Zealand

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Besides being ranked by the Economist on the 10th place, Auckland is also named “Alpha-city” or “Global city” (classification done by Loughborough University). Both people and institutions from the city give a great importance to protecting their special environment and natural biodiversity.

There are many natural rain forest, native scrub and natural park areas all around Auckland. The Auckland Council is continuously raising awareness of protecting the natural resources and of staying environmentally conscious when constructing. Some other reasons that place Auckland on the top favorite livable cities list are the mild climate, high standard education opportunities, and very good employment options. In Auckland, or the “City of Sails” one in three households owns a boat or a yacht.

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12 Comments »

  • Josh said:

    Where’s Portland, Oregon (USA) ?

  • Sarah Farrukh said:

    The Heaven’s Cities :)

  • Alex said:

    Sorry USA but Canada and Australia have the most livable cities in the world!

  • Kate said:

    So proud my home town Toronto is #4 on this amazing list ! Go Canada

  • From Perth said:

    Perth – The most isolated capital city in the world. Now, if we could trouble Mother Nature for a few drops of rain, this place would be perfect.

  • Kate said:

    Basically the research is saying…

    Live in Canada, Australia or Austria.

  • Pipo' said:

    why live in a big city when you can live in a small town of Brazil!
    I just got back from Sao miguel do gostoso, rio grande do norte Brazil Ilha do vento pousada & hostel. 2 incredible months!

    For all the people who love to be away from big cities and kitesurf! I will recomend it !

  • Tony Fernadez said:

    What? Where the freekin hell is Detroit, MI?? DETROIT, USA IS THE BEST FREEKIN CITY IN THE WORLD

  • 'Merica said:

    What about New York City or Chicago or Pittsburgh, or LA. Canada and Australia has too many deadly animals!

  • Jordan said:

    No San Francisco?

  • Dani T said:

    @ Merica :
    Really? Deadly animals? The Canadian cities are big cities, there are no wild animals just walking around. Ignorant much?

  • Mark Gwilliam said:

    I’m proudly biased but Auckland should be number 1!

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