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The 10 Best Cities to Live in, 2018

SmarterTravel

Hoping to move abroad? The Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s annual Most Livable Cities ranking suggests Austria, Australia, and Japan are your best options for the best cities to live in.

From the top down, Vienna, Melbourne, Osaka, Calgary, Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Adelaide topped the findings. The Economist defines “livability” as a composite of five components: stability, healthcare, culture & environment, education, and infrastructure.

All 10 scored 96.6 points out of 100 or higher on the Economist’s scale, meaning that all 10 are great and differences in rank among them are relatively insignificant. Although the scoring focuses on livability for residents, the findings should translate pretty well into desirability, or at least comfort level, as a travel destination or new home for Americans.

It’s worth noting how many cities appear from each continent. Three of the top 10 cities are in Canada, and another three are in Australia. Two from Europe and two from Japan fill out the top group. The public report does not include a full ranking—for that and more details, you have to pay and agree to confidentiality. The text, however, indicates that Auckland, Perth, Helsinki, and Hamburg all retained high scores from prior years—just not quite high enough to crack the top 10 this year.

In general, score shifts over recent months are most affected by changing stability ratings, reflecting what the Economist describes as “a return to general global stability.” The other rating components tend to move more slowly just about anywhere. Stability ratings decreased notably in Abu Dhabi, Colombo, Dubai, and Warsaw.

Among the winners, The Economist notes that “those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries.” On the other hand, “global business centers tend to be victims of their own success. The big city buzz that they enjoy can overstretch infrastructure and cause higher crime rates. New York (57th), London (48th) and Paris (19th) are all prestigious hubs with a wealth of recreational activities, but all suffer from higher levels of crime, congestion and public transport problems than are deemed comfortable.”

Four cities gained five percentage points over the previous five years, but only Belgrade, with a rating of 72.2, improved in a relatively good zone: the others moved up a little bit but still scored below 60. The highest-rated city to drop significantly is San Juan, Puerto Rico, which fell by 8.9 percent to a 69.8 rating, likely thanks to last year’s hurricane season.

The Economist focuses the Livability Index on permanent residency, even recommending salary allowances for hardship postings. It seems clear, however, that the scores also reflect the comfort levels visitors might experience in the different cities. It’s your call whether a low-scoring city’s visitor attractions are sufficient to offset a low score.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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