Auckland is the world’s most livable city

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Amidst the pandemic, Auckland manages to push Vienna from the winner’s podium and take home the title of the world’s most livable city. Osaka and Adelaide follow in second and third place

Last year the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) paused its annual ranking of the most livable cities due to COVID-19. Vienna has held its own at the top for years — but the pandemic has reshuffled the cards.

New Zealand’s successful COVID-19 strategy

As a result, Auckland landed in first place and Wellington in fourth primarily because the New Zealand government was particularly successful in containing the COVID-19 spread. With 2,700 infections and 26 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, New Zealand is considered the country that has so far handled the pandemic best.

Auckland, New Zealand city skyline Auckland, New Zealand city skyline — Shutterstock

New Zealanders spent a total of seven weeks in lockdown — after which life largely returned to normal: open schools and universities, full restaurants, bars, and even concerts and sporting events have been taking place again for months.

The New Zealand strategy focused mostly on preventing the “import” of COVID-19 — a system also adopted by its neighbor Australia, for example.

Australia quickly followed suit

Hallett Cove Boardwalk in Adelaide, Australia at sunset Hallett Cove Boardwalk in Adelaide, Australia at sunset — Shutterstock

Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane, all of which are in the top ten, also benefited from largely normal everyday life during the pandemic.

Even though still in the Top 10, Melbourne’s eighth place, shared with Geneva, leaves Melbournians with a bitter taste. The city ranked number one most livable city for seven years straight until 2017. In the previous ranking, it came in second. But after the general lockdown in April and May 2020, Melbourne also spent almost the entire winter in the southern hemisphere with a strict curfew, which is why it slipped to eighth place this year.

Unsurprisingly, Tokyo and Osaka, which came in seventh and fourth in 2019, have moved up to fourth and second place respectively this year.

Auckland is the world’s most livable cityShinsaibashi, Osaka, Japan — Emil Karlsson, Unsplash

Vienna and Vancouver dropped entirely out of the top 10

European and Canadian cities have noticeably lost their attractiveness and significantly slipped down in this year’s ranking due to the numerous curfews and restrictions. 

Vienna — front runner in the EIU ranking from 2018 to 2020 — fell back to twelfth place. Only the Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva managed to secure spots in the top 10.

Canada, which had three cities, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto in the top 10 in 2019, has none this year. Coming in 16th, Vancouver is the highest Canadian city in the ranking.

The EIU names the burden on hospital systems, the strong impact on the cultural sector, and the harsh lockdowns as the main reasons for poor performance.

The top 10 most livable cities in the world

  1. Auckland, New Zealand
  2. Osaka, Japan
  3. Adelaide, Australia
  4. Wellington, New Zealand
  5. Tokyo, Japan
  6. Perth, Australia
  7. Zurich, Switzerland
  8. Geneva, Switzerland
  9. Melbourne, Australia
  10. Brisbane, Australia

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