The 32 most fun, friendly, and affordable cities in the world

The colorful Porto, Portugal, is one of the friendliest places on the list.

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The colorful Porto, Portugal, is one of the friendliest places on the list.
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Time Out

Time Out’s City Life Index, a survey of 15,000 people in 32 global cities, has been released, and it shows which ones promise the most fun and excitement in 2018.

The survey, conducted by Tapestry Research, questioned residents on a variety of aspects of city life.

It ranked cities in categories across food, drink, culture, friendliness, affordability, happiness, and liveability.

It also “found the key factors that make residents find their city exciting,” from dining out often to feeling proud of where they’re from.

Scroll down to see the 32 most affordable, friendly, and fun cities in the world, ranked in ascending order along with their overall scores:

This article was originally published on January 31, 2018.


32. Istanbul (87.1) — Istanbul residents are proud of their unique city and its history but largely are still not content — just half said they’d felt happy in the past 24 hours.

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Istanbul, Turkey
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31. Singapore (98.7) — Those from Singapore may not rate its culture scene highly, but they do value the city’s safety and are perfectly comfortable walking around at night.

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30. Boston (103.7) — Boston may be one of the least affordable cities surveyed, with a poorly ranking nightlife scene, but its residents still posted high happiness scores — and over half know their neighbors by name.

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29. Dubai (105.3) — Despite its wide appeal, Dubai has the longest working hours on the list (46 a week on average), and the average night out costs $167.

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Karim Sahib/Reuters

28. Sydney (106.1) — While they may think the city is lacking in things to do and good restaurants, Sydney residents live a healthy life, with 66% having exercised in the past week and 38% never having taken drugs. They know how to party, though, and are the world’s No. 1 vodka drinkers.

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27. Miami (107.9) — Miami has one of the world’s buzziest restaurant scenes — but the public transit is poor, according to residents, with 52% claiming to hate it, the highest of any city.

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26. Hong Kong (109.6) — Seventy-five percent of residents said the public transport in Hong Kong was great, contributing to the city’s overall score. They’re also among the biggest restaurant-goers in the world.

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Flickr / Loïc Lagarde

25. Moscow (110.2) — Its residents may not consider it to be a friendly place, but they make the most of what it has to offer late into the night, with a third of residents going to bed long after midnight. It was also the city where people had the most workplace romances.

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24. Bangkok (111.0) — The survey revealed Bangkok as the world’s street-food capital, with more people eating on their feet than anywhere else — 42 times a year, on average. They’re also the biggest restaurant-goers, with 94% of respondents having visited a restaurant in the past week.

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Flickr/Mike Behnken

23. Washington, DC (111.3) — DC, the dating capital, has the most singles looking to mingle or using dating apps. But they’re also the most likely to “ghost” a potential love interest — which perhaps contributes to DC tying with New York to be the most stressed city on the list.

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22. Beijing (113.0) — The city may be exciting, but the commute is long, with 6% of Beijing residents even commuting for two to three hours a day.

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21. Zürich (115.3) — The city’s residents are super active, and, tied with Melbourne, they exercise more than residents of any other city.

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Shutterstock/Roman Babakin

20. Los Angeles (116.8) — It has a booming culture scene with taco-filled restaurants, but it remained in 20th place as its residents said it’s one of the hardest cities to make friends in — and also tough for dating.

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19. Tokyo (117.7) — Tokyo residents love their food — they visit restaurants more than most other cities on the list.

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18. Berlin (119.2) — Eighty-three percent of Berlin residents know their next-door neighbor’s name — a massive number compared with the 55% global average, which helps explain why they’re also the least lonely. They like to spend time at home, though, with people in Berlin eating in restaurants the least frequently in the world.

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Unsplash/Flo Karr

17. San Francisco (119.4) — With a buzzing restaurant scene packed with brunches and 88% of residents saying they “feel free to be themselves,” San Francisco came in 17th because it ranked poorly for safety and affordability.

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16. Shanghai (119.5) — It may not come cheap, but there’s plenty to do in Shanghai, where residents say that while it’s tough to find love, 79% believe it’s easy to find a more … casual … encounter.

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15. Mexico City (121.2) — The people of Mexico City take in more culture than anywhere else, taking trips to the theater, cinema, art galleries, museums, or to gigs 76 times a year.

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14. Paris (124.9) — Parisians have the most sex in the world, according to the survey, with four in five people saying they had sex in the past month. The city is also one of the best for culture. The fun comes at a price, however, with Paris also the world’s hangover capital, with an average of almost a month spent suffering a year.

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Christian Hartmann/Reuters

13. Austin (125.3) — The No. 1 city for live music and the second best for bars, Austin, Texas, is the perfect spot to take in a great gig. Residents also have a very short commute, with an average of just 22 minutes.

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12. Tel Aviv (125.8) — You’ll find the best eats and a relaxed vibe in Tel Aviv, Israel, which also comes out on top for one-night stands and number of working hours — an average of just 27 a week.

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11. Edinburgh (128.2) — Residents of Edinburgh know how to have fun — they’re big drinkers, with 24 hungover days a year.

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10. Barcelona (128.4) — Barcelona residents take in culture an average of 71 times a year — second only to Mexico City. The Spanish city is also home to some of the most frequent restaurant-goers in the world.

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Shutterstock/Georgios Tsichlis

9. Philadelphia (129.2) —  Overall, Philadelphia residents crowned their city the most affordable in the world, as well as one of the most enjoyable to live in. Residents also have one of the quickest commutes at just 24 minutes.

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8. Lisbon (130.2) — Lisboans eat out a lot, spend time with their families, and also say it’s easy to make friends and find love. The average night out also costs just $46.

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7. Manchester (130.9) — Mancunians may be big drinkers, but they also socialize around a cup of tea — they came out on top for not being able to last 24 hours without a cuppa.

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6. Madrid (131.1) — One of the best cities for culture, Madrid’s restaurants are also full, as its residents eat out more than people in most cities.

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Flickr/Felipe Gabaldon

5. London (131.4) — Whether it’s theater, restaurants, or bars, 86% of London residents say there is always something to do or see in the city, with most going out eight times a month. The city didn’t come out on top, though, because Londoners also find it hard to make friends, feel stressed, and find the city unaffordable.

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Time Out

4. Melbourne (132.3) — This Australian city came out above all others in terms of happiness, with nine in 10 residents saying they felt happy within the past 24 hours. They also find it easy to make friends and think the food-and-drink scene is one of the city’s best features.

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Time Out

3. New York (134.6) — Coming in third place, the city has the world’s best nightlife and comes in second for culture, according to the survey. It was also the city most people wanted to visit this year — though visitors may have trouble making friends in the city, which ties with Washington as “most stressed.”

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Time Out

2. Porto (137.9) — Head to Porto, Portugal, for a friendly spot where residents are proud to live in their city, are “free to be themselves,” and experience cheap nights out, at an average of just $37.

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Time Out

1. Chicago (138.2 points) — With the highest overall score, Chicago comes out on top for its food-and-drink scene, happiness, culture, affordability, and city pride — its only drawback was safety, the only area in which it ranked poorly.

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Time Out