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The World’s 10 Best Cities to Live in, Ranked

Looking for the best cities to live in or retire abroad? The world’s most livable city is once again Vienna, Austria, according to The Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s annual Most Livable Cities ranking.

Others in the top 10 are also similar to years past. The Economist bases its scores on weighted composite calculations covering stability, health care, culture & environment, education, and infrastructure. Here are the top ten cities to live in, or the world’s ‘most livable cities,’ ranked.

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The Best Cities to Live in, 2019

  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

All 10 earned scores between 99.1 and 96.6 on a scale of 100, meaning that there’s really little difference between them. Given the importance of factors at the national as well as local level, it’s no surprise that all top-10 cities are in just five highly developed democracies. Europe also fared well, with Zurich, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, and Hamburg closely trailing the top 10 despite only Copenhagen making the top ranks.

Of the six scoring categories, only three strongly contribute to the visitor experience: stability, culture & environment, and infrastructure. I did a quick recalculation with just those three categories, and the result changed only slightly: Vienna stays on top, Adelaide at the bottom, with just a few minor position changes.

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Current headlines come to mind with a look at the bottom 10, or least-livable, cities. The least livable city is Damascus, Syria, followed by Lagos, Nigeria; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Tripoli, Libya; Karachi, Pakitan, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Harare, Zimbabwe; Douala, Cameroon; Algiers, Algeria; and Caracas, Venezuela.

Anyone examining the detailed categories might question some of the scorings. How, for example, could Adelaide outscore Vienna for “culture & environment?” But clearly, all of the top 10 are nice places for visitors as well as for residents—making them the best cities to live in.

What’s most intriguing about the summary report, however, isn’t the close scoring at the top or even the members of the top. For travelers, it’s more notable that some of the world’s top visitor cities—London, New York, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, for example, didn’t make the cut.

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Did your favorite city make the top 10? Comment below.

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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.

Editor’s note: A typo in a previous version of this story incorrectly listed Calgary as part of Vancouver rather than Canada. It has been corrected.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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