For the first time in the Global Liveability Index’s history, Austria’s capital, Vienna, ranks as the most liveable of the 140 cities surveyed by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Melbourne had spent a record seven consecutive years at the head of the survey.
Although Melbourne and Vienna have registered improvements in liveability over the last six months, increases in Vienna’s ratings, particularly in the stability category, have been enough for the city to overtake Melbourne.
The two cities are now separated by 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring a near-ideal 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scoring 98.4.
Two other Australian cities feature in the highest rankings:
Sydney (fifth) and Adelaide (tenth), while only one other European city – Copenhagen in Denmark – made the top 10, coming in at ninth, after its score increased by 3.3 percentage points since the last survey cycle.
The rest of the top-ranked cities are split between Japan (Osaka in third place and Tokyo in joint seventh, alongside Toronto) and Canada (Calgary in fourth, and Vancouver and Toronto in sixth and seventh respectively).
Osaka climbed six positions over the past six months, based on improvements for quality and availability of public transportation, as well as a consistent decline in crime rates.
The Economist said upwards movement in the top ranked cities is a reflection of improvements seen in stability and safety across most regions in the past year.
Whereas in the past, cities in Europe have been affected by the spreading perceived threat of terrorism in the region, which caused heightened security measures, the past six months have seen a return to normalcy. Ranking movements are more related to how cities compare to each other rather than changes in liveability in the cities themselves.
Although four cities have fallen from the top ten over the past year—Auckland (from eighth to 12th), Perth (from seventh to 14th), Helsinki (from ninth to 16th) and Hamburg (from 10th to 18th)—none of these have seen a fall in their overall scores during this period.
Auckland actually registered a minor improvement. Damascus in Syria was at the bottom of the list, with Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria close behind.
For the survey, each city is assigned a rating of relative comfort. Over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories are judged: stability (including threat of unrest), healthcare (availability and quality), culture and environment (including weather, censorship, sporting facilities) , education (availability and quality), and infrastructure (roads, energy, water etc).