Vancouver tops list of North America’s Best City to Live


Vancouver is the 4th Best place to live in the world. Toronto is up there (14th place) on the list for North America as well, but slipped a few notches since last year.

  • European cities dominate the top of the ranking
  • Vienna scores highest for overall quality of living, Baghdad the lowest
  • Singapore ranks top for city infrastructure; London ranks eighth


The quality of living rankings are based on a point-scoring index, which sees Vienna score 108.6, and Baghdad 14.4. Cities are ranked against New York as the base city with an index score of 100.

Mercer’s Quality of Living ranking covers 215 cities and is conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments. In 2008, the quality of living in many regions has been affected. This is demonstrated by serious political turmoil, increasing unrest and instability, health and climatic concerns. The global financial crisis has intensified in 2008, becoming an area of increasing international concern. The effects of various rescue plans being implemented are yet to be known.

In this site you will find a global overview of the survey and a summary of results, includingkey changes, within each region.

This year’s ranking also identifies the cities with the best infrastructure based on electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transport provision, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports.

Mr Parakatil commented: “Infrastructure has a significant effect on the quality of living experienced by expatriates. Whilst often taken for granted when functioning to a high standard, a city’s infrastructure can generate severe hardship when it is lacking. Companies need to provide adequate allowances to compensate their international workers for these and other hardships.”

Top 5 quality of living ranking for cities worldwide

Top 5 cities – Overall

Top 5 cities – Infrastructure

  • Vienna,Austria (1st)
  • Zurich, Switzerland (2nd)
  • Geneva, Switzerland (3rd )
  • Vancouver, Canada (tied 4th)
  • Auckland, New Zealand (tied 4th)
  • Singapore, Singapore (1st)
  • Munich, Germany (2nd)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark (3rd)
  • Tsukuba, Japan (4th)
  • Yokohama, Japan (5th)

Top 5 ranking cities by region

Quality of living

Top 5 cities – Americas

Top 5 cities – Asia Pacific

Top 5 cities – Europe

Top 5 cities -Middle East & Africa

  • Vancouver, Canada (tied 4th)
  • Toronto, Canada (15th)
  • Ottawa, Canada (16th)
  • Montreal, Canada (22nd)
  • Calgary, Canada (26th)


The lowest ranking Americas city in the top 50 was Seattle (50th).

  • Auckland, New Zealand(tied 4th)
  • Sydney, Australia (10th)
  • Wellington, New Zealand(12th)
  • Melbourne, Australia(18th)
  • Perth, Australia (21st)


The lowest ranking Asian city in the top 50 was Osaka (tied for 44th).

  • Vienna,Austria ( 1st)
  • Zurich, Switzerland (2nd)
  • Geneva, Switzerland (3rd)
  • Dusseldorf, Germany (6th)
  • Munich, Germany (7th)


The lowest ranking European city in the top 50 wasMadrid (48th).

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates (77th)
  • Port Louis, Mauritius (82nd)
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (84th)
  • Cape Town, South Africa (87th)
  • Port Elizabeth, South Africa (93rd)


NB: There are no Middle Eastern or African cities in the top 50


Top 5 cities – Americas

Top 5 cities – Asia Pacific

Top 5 cities – Europe

Top 5 cities -Middle East & Africa

  • Vancouver, Canada(6th)
  • Atlanta, USA(15th)
  • Montreal, Canada (tied 15th)
  • Toronto, Canada (18th)
  • Washington D.C, USA (24th)
  • Singapore, Singapore (1st)
  • Tsukuba, Japan (4th)
  • Yokohama, Japan (5th)
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (tied 8th)
  • Tokyo, Japan (12th)
  • Munich, Germany (2nd)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark (3rd)
  • Dusseldorf, Germany(6th)
  • Frankfurt, Germany (tied 8th)
  • London, UK(tied 8th)
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates(35th)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (55th)
  • Jerusalem, Israel (70th)
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates(72nd)
  • Port Louis, Mauritius (92nd)


Learn more and purchase reports

Key features and benefits

To encourage employment mobility and keep abreast of the competition, you need reliable information to help you calculate fair, consistent expatriate allowances. Based on 39 factors within ten categories, Mercer’s Quality of Living Reports contain all the key elements you need to calculate hardship allowances for transfers tomore than420 cities worldwide.

“Hardship allowance” refers to premium compensation paid to expatriates who experience – or should expect to experience – a significant deterioration in living conditions in their new host location.

Research for our reports is carried out by means of a detailed questionnaire with pre-defined criteria and a specific scoring system. Researchers and consultants in Mercer offices worldwide analyse the data which is then cross-checked against various sources by Mercer’s experts.


  • Tangible values for qualitative perceptions to establish an objective assessment of the quality of living for transfers to more than 420 cities worldwide.
  • Carefully selected factors representing the criteria considered most relevant to international executives.
  • A detailed outline of how we establish quality of living differentials between cities.
  • A City-to-City Index Comparison that summarises the difference in the quality-of-living between any two cities.
  • The final quality of living index and access to the detailed breakdown of the categories that form the resulting index.
  • An online quality of living calculator allowing you to customise the QOL index to your specific needs.
  • A score report summarising the quality of living differences for each of the 39 factors.
  • Mercer’s recommended Quality of Living Allowance Grid that allows you to translate the quality of living index into percentage benefits and define competitive hardship allowances where applicable.


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