Lonely Planet Writer

The world's best cities to live in

What’s the best city in the world to live? By one study, it might be Vienna. In the latest ‘Quality of Living’ ranking from international consulting group Mercer, the Austrian capital came out on top as the best city to live in for the tenth year in a row.

Vienna, Austria was voted the best city to live in for the 10th year in a row. Image by Krzysztof Dydynski/Lonely Planet

Mercer looked at 231 cities, taking into account a number of factors including healthcare, education, a city’s social and cultural scene, political stability, crime rate, personal freedoms, housing, natural environment and public transport. The study is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and acts as a guide for companies looking to expand overseas. According to Mercer, a city’s quality of living is one of the most fundamental aspects in attracting new businesses and workers.

Vienna is the world’s best city to live in. Image by Igor Ustynskyy

Vienna was the highest ranked city for quality of living for many reasons such as its rich cultural heritage, excellent healthcare and education systems, access to affordable housing, low population density and low crime rate. It was followed by Zurich, Switzerland in second place; while Auckland, New Zealand; Munich, Germany and Vancouver, Canada tied in third. All US cities covered in the analysis fell in the rankings this year, with Washington DC (53rd) suffering the biggest drop. The exception was New York (44th), rising one place as crime rates in the city continue to fall. In the UK, London placed 41st, Edinburgh was 45th and Belfast 64th.

Zurich placed second in the Mercer index.

European cities are found to have the highest quality of living overall with 13 out of the top 20 cities located in Europe. The highest scoring cities were Dusseldorf (fifth), Frankfurt (sixth), Copenhagen (seventh), Geneva (eighth) and Basel (ninth). As a country Australia ranked quite highly, with Sydney completing the top 10 and all major cities remaining in the top 20 for quality of living and in the top 50 for safety.