Wayne M. Gore - Oct 7, 2008

What city is the best to live in? Where are enough parks, shops and other services for your life to be as comfortable as possible? The western standards are getting higher and higher, people are moving in and out more frequently for better job opportunities as well as for better quality of life and they are also getting harder to please. Mercer Human Resource Consulting Company has recently done a research focused on the quality of life and general living standards in cities and capitals around the world. People were asked to judge the quality of their life and to estimate how comfortable and content they are about their lives. The output of this research is the list of the world’s top ten inhabitant-friendly cities.

1. Zurich

It is no surprise that Switzerland has three cities in the top 10, two of them in the top 3. The living standards in this Alpine country, rich in industry as well as nature and cultural sites, have long been one of the highest in Europe (Switzerland has been fighting for victory with Iceland and Norway). In the overall satisfied country, the inhabitants of its largest, yet not capital, city are the most content ones and feel their lives to be as good as they can be.

2. Geneva

The second largest city in Switzerland and also the second one in this ranking is Geneva. The Swiss are obviously a very happy nation! We should nevertheless admit that high living standards are connected with very high living costs. The most expensive cities are Oslo, Tokyo and Reykjavik; Zurich and Geneva nevertheless ranked eighth and nine respectively in this contest. They are still the only cities from the “most expensive” list, who are at the same time members of the “best for living” group.

3. Vancouver

The only representative of the Americas, Vancouver, the largest city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, holds the third position. It is remarkable that there is no U.S. city in the top ten. Maybe USA ceases to be the paradise it used to be. If you want to live an American dream, forget America, your countries are Switzerland and Canada.

4. Vienna

Another European city on the fourth position. And another German-speaking one! Actually, there are only German-speaking European cities on this list, which probably means that the Germans, except for being “pünktlich” and obsessed by cleaning are also very happy with the way and the place they live their lives (did you know that there are more expressions for cleaning of all kinds in German than in any other language?).

5. Auckland

The second one of the three Commonwealth cities in the top ten is Auckland, the largest city of New Zealand. It is especially the large amount of parks and generally the closeness to the nature that the inhabitants appreciate the most. Auckland resides 1,4 million inhabitants, which is about one fourth of the overall population of New Zealand. Unlike Vancouver, that stands for the North America alone, Auckland has an Australian backup - Sydney - on the rank 9.

6. Düsseldorf

Positions 6 to 8 are occupied by German cities. From these three, Düsseldorf, the centre of German advertising industry, situated in the largest German industrial area called the Ruhr area (with Cologne, Duisburg or Dortmund for neighbours) is the winner. It is quite a surprise that Berlin did not make it to the top ten, as it is widely considered a multicultural and a very pleasant place to live. Beat it, Berlin, viva Düsseldorf!

7. Frankfurt

Frankfurt am Main is the fifth largest city in Germany and obviously also the second most popular and pleasant city for life. One of the city’s characteristics is its skyline with many skyscrapers that count among the tallest ones in Europe and a huge airport.

8. Munich

The third and last German representative, Munich seems to be the least surprising one. The capital of Bavaria, the largest and one of the richest states in Germany, definitely is a nice place to live. One of the things that make Munich interesting and exceptional is the Oktoberfest – the biggest beer celebration in Europe. During this event, people drink beer from one-liter glasses.  It is thus no wonder that they are happy and smiling all the time.  

9. Bern

The third Swiss city on this list is the capital of Switzerland. Thus there are three German and three Swiss cities in the top ten, which makes Germany and Switzerland the total winners of this little competition. On the other hand, the losers are also clear – Asia, with no representative in the top 10, and the Americas, with only one of them.

9. Sydney

Sydney shares the ninth position with Bern, which is quite a success, considering it was founded to be the put-off place for the British criminals! Its first inhabitants would scarcely believe that one day people will be so fond of living here. Of course, Sydney has changed a lot since then and belongs, with its modern architecture, many parks, beaches and multicultural atmosphere to the most beautiful cities in the world. is a travel news provider for the travel trade community worldwide. Visit

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  1. Okay, so no U.S. cities made the top 10. How did the rankings look beyond that, i.e. #11-25?

    Also, note that your cover photo for the article is Dallas - hardly a contender, even in the U.S. How about Minneapolis, Portland or Boston instead?

  2. Americans tend to place the bar high, therefore never being satisfied...evident in not being even in the top 25, yet we have some darn good cities!

  3. The first US city in the rank is Honolulu - on the 27th position.

  4. The cover photo for the article is NOT Dallas, its Houston. I live here and love it!!!

  5. americans are the unfriendliest of people, so who would want to live amongst them. The standards in USA are not great, yet when they come and visit abroad, they expect far more than they are willing to pay. The service and product of our Tourism Destinations in South Africa are world class - yet you still cannot satisfy an American. They think they are the world - well guess what, its time to wake up and smell the roses.

    (South Africa)
  6. Ok some of you are completely arrogant it makes me sick. First of all as an American its crap to say we are the least friendly. Has anyone ever been to Switzerland? Talk about unfriendly. I studied abroad at the LSE a few years ago and found everyone outside Northern, Western, and Eastern Europe to be friendly...all the other continents and especially Americans and Canadians. But the utter snobbery, looking down their noses, white hegemonic pretentiousness came from the (and let me add) white and wealthy European. And as for expecting serice to be great...its true! In Europe there is barely any good customer service...but guess what jack asses Americans friggin give tips...thats why service people love us! The reason US cities don't make it on this list is that most cities don't have good enough transportation. And frankly a good and interesting has some grit and dirt to it, otherwise its too damd Vienna nothing but an open air museum with really no personality.

  7. i admit is difficult (or better impossible) to give an answer without knowing at least half the cities in half the world. so i'll give the knowledge that i have.
    i live between italy and swizzerland and i know some people from swizzerland and german (also from zurich and monaco).
    swizzerland is good place. no doubt. but quite all the people who live there are (excuse the expression) "brain-washed". if you ask them, theyr country is the best, ever and for all. they are sotisfied, yes, but due to some kind of arrogance.
    between north of italy and south of swizzerland life is not so different (believe in me). the main difference is that swiss folks are happy and build theyr happiness on the "disgusting" outlands (most of all italy, spain and france), italian folks arn't so happy because they blindly think that the rest of the UE is a sort of paradise. (i'm making the thing simple...the matter is more complex)
    to be honest, swizzerland and german are good... but problem still exist. i can also tell that swizzerland and german are better than italy, but not drastically. i think that the same could be told about difference between UE and USA.
    (forgive my bad english... it's a bit rusty)

  8. Germany and Switzerland have very nice and beautiful cities. However, I think Milan or Turin, Italy could've made this list same with Lyon or Strasbourg, France or Amsterdam, NL.

    Lukas Aalenthaler (Switzerland)

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