Once again, three Canadian cities have claimed Top 10 honours on Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2023 Global Liveability Index — more than any other country on the list.
Vienna, Austria held onto its top spot in the 2023 ranking and its success is attributed to a “winning combination” of good culture and entertainment, reliable infrastructure, stability and excellent education and health care sectors.
However, two Australian cities, Sydney and Melbourne, jumped into the Top 5, bumping Calgary out of its #3 ranking last year. Alberta’s largest city slid down to seventh place this year, tied with Zurich, Switzerland, and is now sandwiched between Vancouver (#5) and Toronto (#9).
Calgary’s dip can likely be attributed to what the EIU calls “a return to order” following the COVID-19 pandemic
Last year saw Australian cities take a big tumble in the rankings after a particularly infectious strain of COVID seized the island continent.
“They have seen their scores in the health care category improve since last year, when they were still affected by Covid waves that stressed their healthcare systems,” said the research firm.
However, Canada was the only country in the world to have three of its cities crack the Top 10. Australia and Switzerland were the only other countries to post more than one city at the top of the pile.
In fact, the overall index has now reached a 15-year high, thanks to pandemic recovery. The average index score is now 76.2 out of 100, up from 73.2 a year ago.
“Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems,” the report said.
The EIU ranked 173 cities on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Access to health care, amount of green space, cultural and sports activities, crime rates and infrastructure are some of the factors considered in the rankings.
Top 10 Cities
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1. Vienna, Austria
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Melbourne, Australia
4. Sydney, Australia
5. Vancouver, Canada
6. Zurich, Switzerland
7. Calgary, Canada
7. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Toronto, Canada
10. Osaka, Japan
10. Auckland, New Zealand
Other big comebacks and slips
“The removal of COVID-related restrictions has overall boded well for global liveability in 2023,” Upasana Dutt, Head of Liveability Index at EIU, said in a statement.
The easing and removal of pandemic restrictions in Asian-Pacific cities — many of which faced harsh lockdowns in pursuit of a zero-COVID strategy — meant big jumps in liveability scores.
Eight of the top 10 climbs on the overall index were Asian cities, including Hong Kong, which moved up 13 places since last year, to rank the 61st most liveable in the world.
New Zealand’s Wellington rose 35 spots to take 23rd place, while Auckland rose 25 places to land at number 10. Hanoi, Vietnam moved up 20 places to 129.
Of the top 10 biggest drops in rankings, three come from cities in the U.K. — Edinburgh, Manchester and London — and two in the U.S.: Los Angeles and San Diego.
A decline in stability
And while scores were up, overall, in almost every category, EIU said that stability has suffered a “marginal” decline due to “instances of civil unrest in many cities amid a cost-of-living crisis, as well as an uptick in crime in some cities.”
“Strains on public order and economic headwinds have also increased instances of crime in some cities, and this will continue to be a risk for the future,” said Barsali Bhattacharyya, Industry Research Manager with EIU.
“All of this suggests that stability scores in our Liveability Index are unlikely to recover quickly.”
Little change in least liveability
The bottom of the list saw few changes this year, featuring cities facing civil unrest, war and conflict.
Ukrainian city Kyiv returned to the list this year, after being excluded last year due to Russia’s invasion. It is now in the bottom 10.
“The war in Ukraine and the resulting economic and political disruption are affecting liveability in many European cities,” reads the report.
“Unsurprisingly, this is most noticeable in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, which re-joins the survey this year.”
Algeria’s Algiers, Libya’s Tripoli and Syria’s Damascus were ranked the three least liveable cities in the world.
BOTTOM 10 CITIES
164. Douala, Cameroon
165. Kyiv, Ukraine
166. Harare, Zimbabwe
166. Dhaka, Bangladesh
168. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
169. Karachi, Pakistan
170. Lagos, Nigeria
171. Algiers, Algeria
172. Tripoli, Libya
173. Damascus, Syria