It’s no surprise that the world’s most liveable cities have shifted since the pandemic. Locations that have maintained their freedoms have dominated the top 10 for 2021, meaning Australia has fared incredibly well, taking out four of the top 10 spots.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) annual survey ranks cities for their “liveability”. It takes into account five key areas: stability, healthcare, education, infrastructure, and culture & environment.
The 2021 report, which was released on Wednesday, states that the pandemic caused “huge volatility” in this year’s results, with the average liveability score across the globe falling by seven points. “The extent to which cities were sheltered by strong border closures, their ability to handle the health crisis and the pace at which they rolled out vaccination campaigns drove significant changes in the rankings,” the survey found.
While residents in Australia and New Zealand have lived largely normal lives throughout the pandemic, much of the world has faced far worse conditions, and it appears our maintenance of relative normality has affected the rankings, with “six of the top 10 cities in the March 2021 survey [being situated] in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live relatively normal lives”.
Auckland took out the number one spot as the world’s most liveable city — up from sixth in 2020. “Auckland, in New Zealand, is at the top of The EIU’s Liveability rankings, owing to the city’s ability to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic faster and thus lift restrictions earlier, unlike others around the world,” the EIU report reads.
“Owing to border closures and a consequently low Covid-19 case count, New Zealand has been able to keep its theatres, restaurants and other cultural attractions open. Students have been able to continue going to school, giving Auckland a 100 per cent score for education.”
For seven years, it was Melbourne that held the title for ‘most liveable city’, falling to second place in 2018 and now to eighth spot, after enduring some of Australia’s worst lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. The city was given full marks for infrastructure and education this year, but only 83.3 per cent for healthcare and 88.2 per cent for culture & environment.
Adelaide stepped up to take its place as Australia’s most liveable city, coming in at third in the world overall. The city received 100 per cent for healthcare and education, 83.8 per cent for culture & environment, and 96.4 per cent for infrastructure.
Perth also jumped ahead of Melbourne, to be named the sixth most liveable city in the world. Perth was given 100 per cent for healthcare, education and infrastructure, but it was the city’s culture & environment ranking of 78.2 per cent that took it down a peg.
Brisbane scraped into the top 10, jumping up six spots from 2020 and up from 22nd place in 2018. The city was given full marks for healthcare and education, but it was let down by a culture & environment score of 85.9 and an infrastructure rating of 85.7.
Surprisingly, Sydney didn’t rate in the top 10, with our most populated city taking a tumble from third to 11th place, despite Australian cities dominating the chart.
The Japanese city of Osaka was ranked second overall, while Tokyo took out joint fourth with New Zealand capital Wellington, which has also enjoyed relative freedom throughout the pandemic.
The Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva were the only European cities to maintain their places in the top 10, despite some restrictions still being in place. The report says the downward movement in rankings for European and Canadian cities can be attributed to the heightened stress on healthcare resources during the second wave of the pandemic.
“Many European and Canadian cities have fallen down the rankings, having battled a second Covid-19 wave by restricting cultural and sporting events, and closing schools and restaurants,” the survey found.