Europe hosts 8 of the world's 10 best cities to live and work in

23 October 2018 4 min. read
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European cities dominate the top ten in this year’s Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking, with no less than eight of the top ten hailing from the continent. Overall, the German-speaking countries in particular faied well in 2018, with Austria’s capital Vienna remaining in the top spot for the ninth year in a row.

When a country wields a great deal of political power, it almost always comes hand in hand with a period of great prosperity. During this period, cities can develop rapidly, unhindered by the prospects of war or crisis. Within Europe – a continent which has consistently played a prominent role in world history – different nations have risen to power over the centuries. This game of thrones has had a distinct affect on the region's geography of wealth today. 

Following the defeat of Napoleon – around 1814 – the first sketches of the continent's current frontiers were laid out when Europe was carved up. During the Congress of Vienna, the leaders of Europe at the time gave birth to the modern day Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands and restored the balance of power in European international relations until the beginning of WW1.

The choice of location for this event was not surprising due to the fact that Austria was at the time a superpower. Since 1867, the country together, with Hungry – up until the end of the First World War in 1918 – continued as a double monarchy and subsequently was incorporated into Nazi Germany. Thus, during the modern era (1800 - 1945), Austria has spent over 120 years either at or around the center of power. Moreover, with Vienna as the shining center of the Habsburg Empire during the early modern period (1500-1800), the country also witnessed three centuries of great prosperity and development.

Europe hosts 8 of the world's 10 best cities to live and work in

After 1945, no international wars took place in Western Europe. For a large part, the power and therefore the distribution of wealth has played a role in this period of prolonged prosperity. Whilst the Austrian capital may not be at the center of international power anymore, the city has continued to fair well ever since. This conclusion is again confirmed by a recurring study by Mercer, an international consulting firm with approximately 20,000 employees around the globe. The researchers have selected Vienna for the ninth time in a row as the best city in the world to live and work.

Europeans living the good life

The report - which is named 'Quality of Living 2018' – shows that for various reasons Vienna has retained the number one position yet again. According to the researchers: “Vienna remains the highest ranking city in Europe and globally, providing resident and expatriates with high security, well-structured public transportation and a variety of cultural and recreation facilities.”

Think for example, of the large Viennese metro network in which 1.3 million people move daily and the relatively affordable housing. And of the many museums, theaters and opera houses, which were commonly built during the very flourishing eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, it appears that the average Gross Domestic Product per capita of the Viennese population in 2018 is more than €47,000. On the basis of these factors, the golden plaque for the Austrian capital is certainly no mistake.

In addition to Vienna, Europe generally performed well in the Mercer rankings. In the top ten most livable cities, a striking eight places were reserved for European cities. It is also noteworthy that out of these eight, seven are German-speaking, with Copenhagen being the exception. Zurich comes in at second place, which is not surprising if it is taken into account that in Switzerland the GDP per head was above €68,000 last year. In line with this, Geneva and Basel also made it high on the list with placements in spots eight and ten respectively. 

Germany also claims three spots at the top of the list, with Munich in third place, which, like Vienna, has an excellent public transport system, relatively affordable housing, two highly regarded universities and many jobs in the automotive industry. Placed sixth is Düsseldorf and seventh is Frankfurt, which, next to London, is the financial heart of Europe – yet overtly more affordable. The ninth position is taken by Copenhagen, the capital of the country with one of the world's highest income tax rates (56%). Outside Europe only two cities featured in the top 10; Vancouver, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand.