The 21 cities with the best quality of life in the world

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Shutterstock/Milosz Maslanka

Every year Mercer, one of the world’s largest HR consultancy firms, releases its Quality of Living Index, which looks at which cities provide the best quality of life.

The ranking is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and is carried out annually to help multinational companies and other employers to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments, according to Mercer.

London and New York do not make it anywhere near the top of the list.

Looking at 450 cities across the world, Mercer takes into account the following metrics to judge which cities made the list for the best quality of life:

  • Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement)
  • Economic environment (currency-exchange regulations, banking services)
  • Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
  • Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution)
  • Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
  • Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion)
  • Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure)
  • Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars)
  • Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
  • Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Here are the top 21 cities on the planet, according to Mercer.

Lianna Brinded contributed to an earlier version of this post.


21. Perth, Australia — Australia has some of the highest quality of living worldwide. The Western Australian city is home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches.

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Farris Noorzali / Shutterstock

T=19. Hamburg, Germany — The major port city in northern Germany is the second largest of its kind in the country. It has become a centre for media and industry and is home to the world’s second oldest bank: Berenberg Bank.

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powell’sPoint / Shutterstock

T=19. Ottawa, Canada — This city is considered the most educated in Canada with its wealth of post-secondary, research, and cultural institutions. It also has low unemployment and parts of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Reuters/Chris Wattie

18. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg — The tiny European country, which borders Belgium, France, and Germany, is incredibly wealthy and violent crime is very low. Luxembourg’s capital moves up from 21st in last year’s ranking.

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timkouroff / Shutterstock

T=16. Toronto, Canada — Home to the iconic CN Tower, Toronto is Canada’s financial capital. It is also home to some of Canada’s five largest banks. It has a growing entertainment scene and hosts the famous Toronto Film Festival every year.

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

T=16. Melbourne, Australia — The coastal city is one of the best places in the world for education and healthcare, according to Mercer. Its position in the ranking is unchanged from last year.

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Zephyr_p/Shutterstock

15. Wellington, New Zealand — The second most populous city in New Zealand, and the nation’s political centre, Wellington is another city with an unchanged ranking in 2018.

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Shutterstock/Milosz Maslanka

14. Bern, Switzerland — According to Mercer, Bern is the second safest city in the world.

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Shutterstock/BrunoK1

13. Berlin, Germany — Germany’s capital has an excellent of quality of life — with good employment opportunities, a high standard of housing, good personal safety, and tonnes of recreational activities.


12. Amsterdam, Netherlands — Amsterdam combines modern and urban life with relaxed attitudes toward recreation and leisure, and is unchanged in its position from 2017.

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T=10. Sydney, Australia — Australia’s financial hub, and its most internationally recognisable city, Sydney has a burgeoning cultural scene and some of the country’s best restaurants.

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PomInOz / Shutterstock

T=10. Basel, Switzerland — Despite being less well known than the likes of Geneva and Zurich, Basel is still a great place to live for its around 165,000 citizens.

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xlibber/ Flickr

9. Copenhagen, Denmark — The city was recently dubbed one of the happiest places to live on earth, and it’s not hard to see why. Originally a fishing village, Copenhagen has grown into a city with an amazing culinary scene and relaxed pace of life.

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People biking along the lakes in Copenhagen, Denmark
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Kristoffer Trolle/Flickr

8. Geneva, Switzerland — Home to many of the world’s most important organisations, including the World Health Organisation, World Trade Organisation, and the World Economic Forum, Geneva is unmoved in 2018’s ranking.

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ITU Pictures/Flickr

7. Frankfurt, Germany — The commerce-centric city is home to some of the world’s most famous trade shows, including the Frankfurt Motor Show. It is also a hive for professional services jobs, and lobbyists from the city are currently trying to attract London workers moving out of the UK after Brexit to Frankfurt.

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6. Düsseldorf, Germany — Usually known as an industrial and commercial centre, Dusseldorf also has a vibrant fashion industry and art scene, which helps push it up Mercer’s list.

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Alen Djuderija Photography/ Flickr

5. Vancouver, Canada — The Pacific coast city is a cultural melting pot, attracting immigration from all across Asia. This helps create a thriving cultural scene in Canada’s most densely populated city.

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Shutterstock

T=3. Munich, Germany — Germany’s second most recognisable city globally keeps the same ranking as in 2017, thanks to its strong economy, and all round quality of life.

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Alessandra Hasselstein/ Getty Images

T=3. Auckland, New Zealand — Another Antipodean city on the list, Auckland is built around two large harbours and nearly tops the list again with its well-balanced economy, idyllic environment, and high levels of personal safety.

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Unsplash/Dan Freeman

2. Zurich, Switzerland — Switzerland’s biggest commercial centre, and the home of the country’s famous financial industry, Zurich has everything needed for a great quality of life, although it is notoriously expensive.

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Joern Pollex/Getty

1. Vienna, Austria — The best place in the world to live, according to Mercer, is Austria’s capital. Home to a great arts scene, amazing restaurants, and excellent healthcare, Vienna is hard to beat.

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Natural History Museum Vienna