New York City ranks 45th in the world.

Live in one city – you pay through the nose, face long commutes and lack amenities. Live in another, your money goes further, your commute is a breeze and everything else in the city is fun too. The Mercer Foundation conducts an annual survey, ranking quality of life in all major cities around the world based on a variety of logical factors. Europe has dominated the top for nine years running – with one “oh” so livable city taking the crown. If you couldn’t tell from the subtle “oh” clue, it’s Vienna. As to the US, Africa, Asia and beyond? You’ll just have to see where they land, below..

a pool with lounge chairs and a building with water in the backgroundMethodology

The Mercer study examines quality of life in each city based upon 39 unique factors. Among them you’ll find government stability, economic opportunity, transportation links, health and safety, food quality, education, environment, availability of international goods and overall happiness. Naturally, safety and crime rates are also a major concern as are parks and recreational facilities. For more on the methodology, check out the detailed survey reports.

a bridge with lights shining through it10. Basel, Switzerland & Sydney, Australia

Sydney and Basel tied for 10th place on the 2018 survey, giving Sydney it’s 4th consecutive year in the top 10. Meanwhile, Basel beat out stiff European competition from London and other sought after cities for its own 10 spot. We absolutely love both cities, especially Sydney. After reading this, you’ll understand why.

a water way with boats and buildings in the background9. Copenhagen, Denmark

It’s not all Christmas Markets and hot cocoa in Copenhagen. The city is a vibrant economy capitol with steady employment opportunity, low crime and excellent transport. Like most Scandinavian countries, Denmark offers top quality medical care and active outdoor lifestyle, which contribute to this impressive position.

a city next to a body of water8. Geneva, Switzerland

At the foothills of gorgeous Alps, but right in the middle of international commerce – Geneva is a force to be reckoned with. Switzerland is one of the most stable countries in the world, with vast economic and social opportunity. Geneva attracts international visitors and commerce of all kind, offering its inhabitants a truly global experience.

a city with a bridge over a body of water7. Frankfurt, Germany

This capitol of German banking is a wonderful city to visit – and apparently, even better to live in. With abundant parks, impressive transit links, well compensated jobs and a cool bohemian sub culture, Frankfurt offers exceptional quality of life. From the Palmengarten to Eisener Steg, there’s no shortage of space to explore and a major international airport means you’re always just a flight away.

a city skyline with a body of water6. Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf is a center of art and fashion in Europe. If good art and fashion don’t translate to excellent quality of life – we don’t know what does! The city boasts beautiful river walks along the Rhine and seamless access to nearby suburbs which account for high wellbeing scores, and playing home to the corporate headquarters of major firms such as L’Oréal contribute to a vibrant local economy with tremendous job opportunities.

a city with a lake and mountains in the background5. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a city spoiled with beauty and natural resources, and thankfully – it hasn’t done anything to ruin that. Spread across the beautiful Pacific Northwest with incredible Stanley Park proudly on display, this city requires no imagination to place it in the top five. Vancouver is one of the best destinations to visit, so there’s more to it than just living there!

a glass building with people walking up stairs4. Munich, Germany

What is it about Germany? By now, you’ve figured out that if you’re seeking best quality of life, you can pretty much just close your eyes, place your finger on a map of Germany and end up in one of the ten best cities for quality of life. If you need convincing, just Google “German biergarten”. This will all soon make sense.

a city skyline with a body of water3. Auckland, New Zealand

This hilly New Zealand city offers everything you could ever dream of to ensure a lovely quality of life. Stable government, steady jobs, incredible agriculture, international population, exercise and outdoor activity galore – not to mention access to nearby wine regions. It probably doesn’t hurt that New Zealand offers an extremely high minimum wage to boot. $15.75 an hour ain’t bad.

a bridge over a river with buildings and a bridge2. Zurich, Switzerland

One of the key tenets of the Mercer study involves health access and facilities. You’d be hard pressed to find better doctors, clinics and facilities than in Zurich. A triumph in medical, banking, culinary and outdoor delights – Zurich is one of the best places to live, and it’s no slouch for any vacation too.

a city with many buildings1. Vienna, Austria

Oh Vienna! For the 9th consecutive year, Vienna tops the list for quality of life. Of all the cities in the world, 39 metrics measuring quality of life all point to this cultural capital. With changing European landscapes, retaining the title is even more impressive in 2018. The city was highly cited for security, public safety, well structured transport and an abundance of cultural offerings. It’s only the home of opera, after all. Congrats Vienna, you just jumped up our 2018 destination list – too!

a street with a winding road and treesList 1 – USA 0

Perhaps the most glaring country, noticeably absent from this list is the United States. Not a single US city ranked in the top 10 for quality of living, compared to 8 European cities. The highest ranking North American cities were in Canada, and the highest ranking US city overall was San Francisco, at 30. With tourism dollars slipping, this is an interesting time for the United States.

What’s your favorite city – and why?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Seriously did you just repost this from somewhere. Have you lived in any of those German cities. I have family that does live in Frankfurt and it’s a total dive with all the immigrants.

    And yes Switzerland is awesome is you are a millionaire.

    How about a post about the best places to live for the “average” person.

    1. The average person is exactly what the study is based on. And we link to the study.

      To be honest, I don’t take opinions seriously from anyone who thinks negatively of immigrants.

  2. I think the man has a point. Let’s be more precise. It refers to the recent immigrants from Islamic countries. Among them there are many who want to impose Sharia. Those of you who are obsessed with Trump, why are you lying and denying the Sharia problem? I don’t care about anyone’s religion, AS LONG AS IT’S PRIVATE. As soon as anyone tries to impose his religious rules, which have NO legal basis in Europe or US, that person or community shoukd go to hell.

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