A crowd of people near St. Stephan Cathedral in Vienna, reminding us of a world before COVID-19

COVID-19 determined the best cities to live in the world

COVID-19 determined the best cities to live in the world

And they are not in the European Union

Vienna losт the top spot on the Global Liveability Index for 2021 published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The capital of Austria held this position from 2018 to 2020 but has slipped down to 12th place this year. Currently, there are no EU cities in the top 10 of the Index.

The survey was conducted between 22 February and 21 March 2021, and, unsurprisingly, the results have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. During this period many EU countries, including Austria, were battling second or third waves of Covid-19.

The healthcare average score went down, as many countries struggled to flatten the curve

Compared to six months ago, there is a nearly 5-point drop in the overall score. Healthcare conditions worsened markedly in Prague (Czech Republic) and Athens (Greece), as during that period COVID-19 cases were on the rise and it was increasingly difficult to find a hospital bed and access to quality healthcare.

The biggest drops in the ranking of cities from 140 countries are in Germany. These are Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf as they fell to 47th, 39th and 50th place respectively.

It is not all bad news though. Barcelona and Madrid gained 25 points for healthcare because their healthcare system coped better with the pressure compared to the previous wave of Covid-19.

Strict lockdowns caused a fall in the culture and environment rankings

The average overall score has fallen by 14 points since 2019.  However, some countries around the world had lifted restrictions since September 2020. This, in turn, contributed to a favourable change for their cities. This is particularly noticeable in the East-Asian and Pacific regions that have come to dominate the list.

Top 10 cities:

  • Auckland, New Zealand (96.0)
  • Osaka, Japan (94.2)
  • Adelaide, Australia (94.0)
  • Wellington, New Zealand (93.7)
  • Tokyo, Japan (93.7)
  • Perth, Australia (93.3)
  • Zurich, Switzerland (92.8)
  • Geneva, Switzerland (92.5)
  • Melbourne, Australia (92.5)
  • Brisbane, Australia (92.4)

There is no doubt that with the rollout of the vaccine and the effectiveness of contact tracing, the livability of EU cities is going to fluctuate over the coming months. Barring some huge setback, such as the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, overall scores should improve.

The Recovery Plan for Europe is a potential game-changer for the region as it provides a chance for municipalities to set a new agenda for the future by tackling multiple issues at once.



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