The Financial Times recently provided an interesting ranking of the 25 "most liveable" cities world-wide. At the top of the list in 2009 is Zurich, Switzerland, followed by Copenhagen and Tokyo. Compiled by Tyler Brûlé, editor-in-chief of global-affairs-lifestyle magazine Monocle, the ranking is based on a wide variety of factors, ranging from average salaries, school performance, healthcare costs, physical and technological connectivity, tolerance, the vibrancy of a city's media and culture scene, as well as late-night eating, entertainment, and shopping options. In 2009, several new metrics were added to the mix for the first time, including a city's business climate and the quality of its public transport / infrastructure system. As Tyler Brûlé summed things up: "In our view, places with the best quality of life are those with the fewest daily obstructions, allowing residents to be both productive and free of unnecessary stress." Looking at the ranking, I was struck by several things: first, four out of the Top 10 "most liveable" cities are in the German-speaking world: Zurich #1, Munich (my hometown) #4, Vienna #7, and Berlin #10. Second, Germany and Japan are the only countries that can boast three of their cities on the Top 25 global ranking. Third, there isn't any continental U.S. city on the list (well, Honolulu was ranked #11, but both Minneapolis and Portland dropped off this year). As for New York's long-standing claim to be the world's capital, it was doomed by the very poor quality of its transportation infrastructure, public schools and housing stock (plus the financial meltdown on Wall Street). Finally, no African or Latin American cities made the cut, and apart from Japan, Australia, and Singapore, Asia is not represented either. That being said, a big check book can of course help carve out a certain quality of life in even some of the world's toughest cities.
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