Lonely Planet Writer

Vienna named top city for quality of life

Vienna, Austria leads list of world’s top cities for quality of life, followed by Zurich, Switzerland; Auckland, New Zealand; Munich, Germany; and Vancouver, Canada.

Karlskirche at night, Vienna, Austria
Karlskirche at night in Vienna, Austria. Image by César Asensio

From around the world, 230 cities were ranked for quality of life and safety in the Mercer’s 18th annual Quality of Living survey.

While much of the top cities were European, Vancouver ranks highest for North America, while Singapore is the highest ranked Asian city in 26th place.

Zurich during dramatic sunset.
Zurich during dramatic sunset. Image by Rudy Balasko

Luxembourg is the safest city in the world, “based on internal stability, crime figures, performance of local law enforcement, and the home country’s relationship with other countries”. It is followed by Bern, Switzerland; Helsinki, Finland; and Zurich, Switzerland, which were all tied for second place. The safest UK cities are Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow – all ranked in 44th place.

Baghdad, Iraq was listed as the world’s least safe city in 230th place, preceded by Damascus, Syria.

Auckland city in the morning.
Auckland city in the morning. Image by Mike Mackinven

The survey is created to help multinational companies compensate their employees fairly when working internationally.

Vienna has been the top city for quality of life in the last seven published rankings. It is followed by Zurich (2), Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), and Copenhagen (9). Prague is the highest ranking city in Central and Eastern Europe in 69th place, followed by Ljubljana (76) and Budapest (77). The lowest ranking cities in Europe are Kiev (176), Tirana (179), and Minsk (190).

Some European capitals dropped in the safety rankings due to recent terror attacks or social unrest in the last few years, such as Paris (71), London (72), Madrid (84), and Athens (124).

Facade view inner yard of new city hall in Munich, Germany
Facade view inner yard of new city hall in Munich, Germany Image by Evgeny Drobzhev

The recent political and economic turmoil in Greece, which resulted in violent demonstrations in Athens and other cities in the country, has led to a drop in its safety ranking. The Ukrainian and Russian cities of Kiev (189), St. Petersburg (197), and Moscow (206) are ranked lowest for personal safety in the region.

In North America, Canadian cities dominate the top of the quality of life list, with Vancouver in fifth, Toronto in 15th and Ottawa in 17th place. The highest-ranking American cities are San Francisco (28), Boston (34) and Honolulu (35). Canadian cities also rank much higher when it comes to personal safety, with Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver sharing 16th place, whereas no US cities made the top 50.

Vancouver, British Columbia.
Vancouver, British Columbia. Image by Kenny Louie / CC BY 2.0

In the Middle East and Africa, Dubai ranks highest in quality of life in 75th place. Only a handful of cities in this region place in the top 100 for personal safety—with Abu Dhabi ranking highest in 23rd place, followed by Muscat (29), Dubai (40), and Port Louis (59).

Read more: Satisfaction guaranteed: Oslo and Zurich top list of Europe’s happiest destinations