Europe has its problems. No-one can deny it.
Yet when it comes to an annual list of cities offering the highest quality of life, the continent is riding high, boasting eight of the top ten entries!
For the eighth year running, the number one spot in consulting firm Mercer’s list is held by Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river.
Switzerland is represented three times with Zurich (2), Geneva (8) and Basel (10).
In fact, the only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland (3) and Vancouver (5).
The survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.
Singapore was the highest ranked Asian city, at 25 while 29th-placed San Francisco was the United States’ highest entry. Top of the list in Africa was South Africa’s Durban at 87.
Beating off challengers year on year, top-ranked Vienna has every right to feel proud.
Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants benefit from the city’s café culture and museums, theatres and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city, whose architecture is marked by its past as the centre of the Habsburg empire, are cheap compared with other Western capitals.
It has even inspired reviewers from the Big Apple. New York City itself doesn’t even make the top 40 in the list, coming in at a lowly 44.
As for the bottom of the list, Baghdad is again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the Iraqi capital since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Six years into Syria’s bloody war, Damascus was ranked seventh from bottom, with Bangui in the Central African Republic, Yemeni capital Sanaa, Haiti’s Port-au-Prince, Sudan’s Khartoum and Chad’s N’Djamena filling out the end of the list.
So what matters to you when it comes to choosing a place to live? We have been crunching the numbers to offer some guidance.
Choose the most important criteria from the list and see which major European city might be the perfect place for you.