The best and worst cities to live in the world

Vienna beats two Australian cities to the top spot in the Economist’s 2019 ranking


Vienna has been named the world’s most liveable city for the second year running.

The Austrian capital received an overall score of 99.1% in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual index - the same rating as last year, when it became the first European city to claim the top spot in the list’s two-decade history. Melbourne was knocked into second place in 2018 after a seven-year reign and remains runner-up this year.

The ranking rates the livability of 140 cities based on factors such as stability, healthcare, culture, the environment, education, infrastructure and security. No UK cities qualified for this year’s top ten, with London in 48th position.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

“Higher crime rates and ropey infrastructure pull some bigger cities like London, New York and Paris down the league table, despite their cultural and culinary attractions,” says sister company The Economist.

The magazine notes that, overall, scores have gone up since last year, although Sydney was the only climber in the top ten, after getting a higher environment score.

Australia and Canada each had three cities in the top ten, while Japan had two.

At the bottom of the list is Damascus, the capital of war-torn Syria, just below Lagos in Nigeria and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

“A slew of cities in emerging markets that are among the most exposed to the effects of climate change have seen their scores downgraded,” says the report, pointing to Dhaka along with New Delhi in India and Cairo in Egypt.

The report continues: “A lack of a concerted global effort to tackle climate change risks further downward revisions in these scores, threatening to offset improvements in the other categories, such as education and infrastructure, which remain on a broadly upward trend.”

Here is the list of this year’s top ten most liveable cities, according to the EIU:

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Melbourne, Australia

3. Sydney, Australia

4. Osaka, Japan

5. Calgary, Canada

6. Vancouver, Canada

7. Toronto, Canada

8. Tokyo, Japan

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Adelaide, Australia

And the world’s least livable cities for 2019:

1. Damascus, Syria

2. Lagos, Nigeria

3. Dhaka, Bangladesh

4. Tripoli, Libya

5. Karachi, Pakistan

6. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

7. Harare, Zimbabwe

8. Douala, Cameroon

9. Algiers, Algeria

10. Caracas, Venezuela

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.