It’s back again: The Economist Intelligence Unit’s list of the most and least livable cities in the world. 


There’s almost no difference among the top ten – indeed, only three-tenths of a percent among Melbourne, Vienna, Vancouver and Toronto:

Economist 2

Save for Vienna and Helsinki, all the rest in the top ten are from CANZBA – the places the Queen of England ostensibly rules and might actually prefer to live in.  What is it that Australia, Canada and New Zealand do so right when it comes to the urban environment?  Presumably we’re good at the basics: well-maintained infrastructure with stable government, good health care, education and a clean environment. 
Hard to believe, though, that Vancouver beats Vienna when it comes to culture.  But only because environment is lumped in with the opera.  How you rate always depends on how you measure.
One distinction does jump out: When it comes to infrastructure, Vancouver rates 92.9 – slightly higher than Toronto, but at the low end with Auckland among the top ten, and likely the factor that has dropped us from No.1 since 2011.  Economist 3
Since so much is included under ‘infrastructure’ – from water to housing to transit – it’s hard to know where we’re vulnerable, but it will be interesting to see how The Economist treats the outcome of the funding referendum for transit.  If the provincial government, the business community and Metro citizens care about this rating as an indicator of our competitiveness, there’s another reason to ensure a yes vote.
Of course, it could be very much worse.  As The Economist notes, “For the very top tier of cities, there is little change to report,”  but in terms of decline, you don’t really want to be living in Damascus.


  1. They should revise the infrastructure category. Instead of looking at the road network and public transport as indicators, they should look at the quality of the local and regional transportation networks holistically.
    You know there’s something wrong when Calgary is rated 96.4/100 for infrastructure.

  2. I personally don’t view Vancouver’s “lowish” rank re infrastructure as entirely negative. Vancouver simply doesn’t rank highly in the highways department, although I hope the Malahat on Vancouver Island doesn’t figure in this. OTOH, Auckland has a good freeway system, perhaps not an overly positive thing in the value system employed by many.

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