The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has recently published its Global Liveability Index for 2018. The index has not received as much coverage as might be expected, perhaps that’s due to the fact that Melbourne lost its number one ranking for the first time in seven years.

This year it was Vienna that grabbed bragging rights to being the world’s most liveable city. Although it must be noted that the differences between the two cities was tiny.

The margin was only 0.7 of a percentage point, with Vienna scoring 99.1 out of 100 and Melbourne scoring 98.4. In fact, when looking at the top ten cities the differences in most ranking points are all pretty small.

Both Australia and Canada each had three cities in the top ten, while the USA was not represented in the top the rankings.

In addition to Melbourne, the two other Australian cities feature in the top-ranked places were Sydney (5th) and Adelaide (10th). The three Canadian cities were Calgary (4th), Vancouver (6th) and Toronto (7th).

The three other cities that complete the top ten are Osaka (3rd), Tokyo (8th) and Copenhagen (9th).

The key factors used to rank the cities in the EIU are: Stability, Healthcare, Culture & Environment, Education and Infrastructure.

Sydney scored the maximum 100 points for healthcare, education and perhaps surprisingly infrastructure. Adelaide by comparison scored slightly lower rankings for culture and environment and infrastructure.

Before looking at the various elements that make up some of the rankings, we can tick off education as all of the top ten got 100 and for healthcare, every city except Copenhagen, also scored 100, the later scored 95.8.

That leaves stability, culture and environment and infrastructure as the key areas separating the ranked cities in the EIU Index. How is each constructed and will this give us any insights to further consider and value the index?

As the name ‘stability’ implies it’s easily the most critical of all of the factors as it goes to the civility and rule of law in the cities. Stability is a measure of; petty and violent crime, the threat of terror, military conflict and civil unrest and conflict. Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide all score 95/100.

Culture and environment is the next measure and possibly the most interesting and diverse, Vancouver was the only city to score 100 while, Melbourne known for its culture gained 98.6 points, perhaps it was the weather that let Melbourne down.

There’s a diversity of interesting measures used to score culture and environment and these are; temperature, the (appeal) of the climate for travellers, corruption, religious restrictions, censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, (quality of) food and drink and the availability of consumer goods and services. Is easy to recognise these as areas where many cities do battle Melbourne’s sporting culture and the food envy between all three Australian cities being cases in point.

Considering the widest interpretation of liveability, it’s infrastructure that really determines the individual merit of a city for its citizens. It was somewhat surprising to see that all three local cities scored 100 and I wonder if we’d all agree. Then by contrast Toronto scored 89.3/100 which was the lowest score on any measure by any city across the entire top ten in the index.

Infrastructure consists of road networks, public transport, international links (transport), good quality housing (not price), energy and water provision and telecommunications. Many of these points a current hot-spots across Australia however, it appears our baseline might not be all that bad, at least that’s according to the EIU Index.

Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2018

The EIU also publish the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey and I thought a brief comparison of the two surveys would be interesting.

From the liveability survey only Copenhagen and Sydney appear in the top 10 most expensive cost of living survey, Copenhagen in 8th position and Sydney 10th.

Singapore was the world’s most expensive city for the fifth consecutive year followed by Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong and Oslo. Low inflation has pushed Tokyo and Osaka out of the top ten from 133 cities worldwide.

The next five most expensive cities were Geneva, Seoul, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Sydney.

It’s notable that New York moved four places down the ranking to 13th position because of a weakening US dollar in 2017, which has also affected the position of other US cities. This, however, may well reverse in 2018 as the US dollar and economy strengthen. We will wait and see!

The world’s cheapest five cities in the survey were Damascus, Caracas, Almaty, Lagos and Bangalore. Many of these cities faced well documented economic, political, security and infrastructural challenges and there is some correlation as noted by the EIU between its cost of living rankings and rankings in the liveability survey which the EIU says that, ‘Put simply, cheaper cities also tend to be less liveable.’