Friday, September 02, 2011

Auckland is very liveable

Auckland has been ranked the tenth most liveable city in the world out of 140 ranked in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest Liveability Ranking. Vancouver dropped out of first place for the first time in a decade. Harare in Zimbabwe was at 140, the worst of all the cities ranked.

The ranking was originally developed to help human relations departments of large companies work out whether workers posted overseas should be paid allowances. The uses have grown from there.

To work out the ranking, “Every city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.”

They then weight the scores from 1 to 100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. The less ideal a city is, the more an expat worker should be paid and, logically, the better a city is, the less their bonus should be. The EIU’s own recommendation is that workers shouldn’t receive a bonus if a city’s score is above 80.

Vancouver was first-equal with Melbourne in 2002, taking the top spot in the next ranking and holding it ever since. In this edition of the rankings, Vancouver dropped to third place after the city’s overall score dropped because of “a slight decline in its transport infrastructure score.” Vienna climbed into second place as Melbourne took first place, despite no change in its score.

Seven of the top ten cities are in Canada or Australia (3 and 4, respectively) and two cities are in Europe (Vienna at number two and Helsinki at 7). Auckland rounds out the top ten in tenth place, meaning Commonwealth countries have 8 out of the top ten most liveable cities.

However, the EIU notes that, “The performance of the most liveable cities reflects minimal variation between the scores of the top locations… only 1.8 percentage points separate the top ten cities. In this context, some 63 cities (down to Santiago in Chile) are considered to be in the very top tier of liveability…” Put another way, the relative rankings of the top cities don’t matter that much. Wellington was in 23rd place.

The closeness of the rankings in the top tier, the EIU notes, shows that the highest ranked cities have certain common characteristics and “tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.” According to the EIU, this “can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure.”

These rankings are another measure of how cities compare with each other, a way of evaluating their relative performance. While it remains useful as a way of determining if workers temporarily posted overseas should get any special allowances or not, they also provide another tool for would-be permanent migrants to evaluate the places they’re looking at moving to.

However, all these rankings are tools, not final indicators nor definitive statements on what places are best to move to permanently. That determination rests, as it always has, with the expat who must decide based on largely personal criteria whether a potential foreign home is a good fit or not. Rankings like this are helpful, but they can never provide the full answer.

Still, it is interesting, at the very least.


Dave Faukner said...

I hope Toronto is not in the top ten! I was transferred here 6 months ago and as someone who has traveled all over and lived in South Africa, Australia, DC, LA, etc - I can tell you Toronto is not in the top ten!! Angriest people in North America, expensive, horrible weather. 6 months to go if I can make it.

Dave Faulkner

Arthur Schenck said...

Apparently The Economist Intelligence Unit disagrees with you: They rank Toronto as the fourth most liveable city in the world.

Actually, I was thinking: If they really are the "angriest people in North America", maybe that's because of the weather—it certainly can make ME cranky! ;-)

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh my goodness - I LOVED Toronto! Was there last month.

Arthur Schenck said...

I've never been there. The only big Canadian city I've visited is Montreal.

Dave Faukner said...

Toronto is a great city to visit! I use to love it when I traveled on business but living here is no fun. Montreal is also a great city to visit but I have not lived there - I think the quality of life is higher than Toronto. I think the nicest Canadian city is Vancouver

Arthur Schenck said...

I'd like to visit Toronto and Vancouver, and go back to Montreal (especially now that I have a friend there). A lot of Canadians and Kiwis seem to see similarities between Auckland and Vancouver, but I have no idea, personally, what they're talking about.