Vienna is the best city to live, London the 40th

Vienna is the best city to live, London the 40th


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2017

The annual Mercer rankings are out and Vienna comes top for the eighth year running as the best city in terms of quality of life, measured on public services, political climate and recreation (including arts).

London is 40th, New York 44th.

Here’s the top 20:



1 Vienna, Austria

2 Zurich, Switzerland

3 Auckland, New Zealand

4 Munich, Germany

5 Vancouver, Canada

6 Dusseldorf, Germany

7 Frankfurt. Germany

8 Geneva, Switzerland

9 Copenhagen, Denmark

10 Basel, Switzerland

10 Sydney, Australia

12 Amsterdam, Netherlands

13 Berlin, Germany

14 Bern, Switzerland

15 Wellington, New Zealand

16 Melbourne, Australia

16 Toronto, Canada

18 Ottawa, Canada

19 Hamburg, Germany

20 Stockholm, Sweden


  • Halldor says:

    High proportion here (NB I say proportion) of dull, expensive towns for dull wealthy people. Fairly clear that cuisine doesn’t play a large role in these rankings…and let’s not even get on to diversity…

    • John Borstlap says:

      I’m a very diverse person and was always perfectly left in peace in Vienna.

      • Joe Lowry says:

        Fantastic variety of food in Vienna. There’s Syrian, Pakistani, Turkish and Argentinian wiring one minute”s walk where I am sitting

  • Aria da capo says:

    I don’t agree either with the ranking, but i’m not revealing my secret paradise for safety reasons.

  • Yuri says:

    I agree. Such sweet memories sitting at Schwarzenberg cafe in the same spot as this photo has been shot!!

  • Der Fliegende Amerikaner says:

    Looks like the same cities that show up in every single issue of Monocle magazine or Tyler Brule’s FT column on Saturdays

  • V.Lind says:

    Plenty diversity in Vancouver and Toronto. And lost of great grub — possibly for that very reason!

    • Steven Holloway says:

      And in Vancouver, almost top-of-the-league when it comes to cost of living, hence the flood of people forced out of it. Without that wee factor taken into account, these tables mean nothing to the vast majority of people.

      • Elizabeth Dales says:

        As dual citizens exiting the US, we opted for Victoria, BC, across the water from Vancouver. It’s still affordable, and the larger city is easily accessible via ferry. It does warm my heart to see three Canadian cities on the list!

        • MWnyc says:

          How late do the Vancouver-Victoria ferries run, though?
          Can you attend a performance in Vancouver and still catch the ferry back that night?

          • Elizabeth Dales says:

            I don’t think it’s possible to get back to Victoria the same night; the ferry back is too far from DT Vancouver. We haven’t lived here long enough to try out a Vancouver junket, but some folks make an occasion of it and and stay over. With the real estate savings in hand, that would be my choice 🙂

  • Sue says:

    Munich??!! They’ve GOT to be joking. Auckland has amongst the world’s very highest home prices.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Why? I find Munich a little boring as I am from Berlin and there is a whole lot more action there. But the quality of life is certainly very high. In terms of “classical music”, it’s a very good city with several great orchestras and a top opera house. The scenery around Munich is pretty good, too, it’s not that far to the Alps or even northern Italy or south eastern France if you need a change of scenery and culture and some nicer weather. Overall, really very good.

    • MWnyc says:

      Many (maybe most) of the cities on this list have high home prices.

  • SoCal Dan says:

    The Mercer report states that it is intended for use by multinational companies in compensating executives who work as expatriates.

    For example, an executive from Vienna (ranked 1) who is required to work in London (ranked 40) would be eligible for “a quality-of-living or hardship allowance [that] compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.”

    On the other hand, an executive from London who is required to work in Vienna would not receive a quality-of-living allowance. Working as an expatriate in a higher-ranking city is not a hardship, at least from a quality-of-life standpoint.

  • Randol Schoeberg says:

    Did they consider weather in the rankings?

    • MWnyc says:

      I can’t help thinking that’s why Melbourne is so far down – next to Wellington, windiest city on earth.

      This is the first time I can remember seeing on of these lists that ranked Sydney ahead of Melbourne, let alone so far.

  • Don Fatale says:

    Lovely places all, but I rank cities on how many opera performances they have every month, as that’s my personal quality of life indicator. Perhaps Vienna would still be top, although London, Paris, Berlin Prague, Budapest and Moscow would be close behind. A person of culture would surely prefer my little list.

  • Amelii says:

    Vienna. A phoney tourist Disneyland with zero character.
    I’ll be so happy to leave soon after many years.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      You lived there for many years, but you never learned enough German to get under the thin touristy surface and explore the diversity and richness of Vienna’s cultural life? That’s pretty sad. It’s probably better if you leave and settle somewhere where you are more at home with your provincial mindset. Maybe Kansas or Wisconsin, or wherever you are from.

      • swiclau says:

        very good answer eheh

      • John Borstlap says:

        In its own way, Vienna is also very privincial. Its culture – especially its music culture of course – is on a very high level, but the cultivation of its superior self-image means that things outside the city are often seen with a suspicious eye, and internal things are run with the intention to keep everything as much as possible ‘among ourselves’ which hinders injections of new life and new absorbtion. The city is very open to foreigners, but that is on the consumer side. One of the reasons of this mentality is the erosion of tradition everywhere else in the Western world, so one can understand the suspicion as a reaction to protect a precious cultural asset. But it can also result in a locked-in situation. It is a difficult position to be in.

    • Joe Lowry says:

      Don’t let the door hit your back too hard

  • herrera says:

    Best City to Live in for White German and English Speaking Middle Class and Middle Age People Who Read Fifty Shades of Gray for Excitement

    • David says:

      White German, English speaking middle class….in general
      that describes nicely the opera community and the clientele of this web site.

      Not one US city on the list. No not one.
      Three cheers for Vienna!

      • MWnyc says:

        “Not one US city in the list.”

        Well, since the list rankings are based on public services and political climate, it makes sense that no U.S. cities are in the top 20.

    • Mikey says:

      “for people who read Fifty Shades of Grey”.. so the best cities for unhappy, sexually frustrated, suburban soccer moms with unrealistic expectations about relationships?