Residents' satisfaction with European cities is recovering after taking a hit during COVID, Source: Depositphotos

Which 10 European cities offer the best quality of life?

Which 10 European cities offer the best quality of life?

A new report by the European Commission shines the light on residents’ levels of satisfaction with their home cities

The European Commission has released a report from a continental survey that details the residents’ levels of satisfaction with living in their city. The municipalities studied are located in all the 27 EU member states plus Switzerland, Iceland, the UK and Norway, as well as EU candidate states Turkey, North Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.

The report sought to find patterns across the continent in terms of the overall quality of life for urban residents and to reveal what it means for today’s Europeans to be living in a city.

The 10 best European cities in terms of resident satisfaction

A glance at the survey maps immediately reveals that there is a geographic component when it comes to overall satisfaction, with cities in northern and western countries in Europe scoring higher than those located in the southern and eastern parts of the continent.

Here are the top 10 European cities in terms of overall satisfaction:

  1. Zurich (Switzerland) (97% of residents indicated satisfaction)
  2. Copenhagen (Denmark) (96%)
  3. Groningen (Netherlands) (96%)
  4. Gdansk (Poland) (95%)
  5. Leipzig (Germany) (95%)
  6. Stockholm (Sweden) (95%)
  7. Geneva (Switzerland) (95%)
  8. Rostock (Germany) (94%)
  9. Cluj-Napoca (Romania) (94%)
  10. Braga (Portugal) (94%)

This ranking shows that despite the overall conclusions, the good news is that there are outliers in Eastern and Southern European cities where the level of satisfaction is on par with cities in more developed countries. Hopefully, this will point to a more varied and mixed picture in terms of cohesion in the future, which will be able to eradicate long-established development cleavages.

If you’re wondering where the lowest satisfaction among residents is to be found, you’ll find the answer in cities located predominantly in Southern Italy and the Balkans with Palermo, Athens and Istanbul showing the lowest levels in the continent.

Overall satisfaction down since 2019

The last time the European Commission implemented this type of survey was in 2019 before the COVID pandemic swept over the world and put the hard breaks on a lot of developments. Now that we’re living in a post-COVID age characterized by high inflation rates and economic uncertainties, the results show that there is a slight decrease in satisfaction overall compared to the previous report’s findings.

The tendency, as in other walks of life, is that of a recovery, however, it still falls slightly short of pre-pandemic levels.

A significant drop (of more than 3%) is observed in 34 out of the 76 cities for which a comparison is feasible. The largest decreases in satisfaction can be seen in London (UK, – 8%), Vienna (Austria, – 6%), Bologna (Italy, – 6%) and Miskolc (Hungary, – 6%).

The report took a wide-scope approach by including any urban settlements - from those smaller than 250,000 inhabitants to those with more than 5 million. Altogether, 83 cities were included in the survey.

The survey was conducted by IPSOS – on request of the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy – between January and April 2023.



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