The World’s Top Five Most Liveable Countries 2014

I’m very excited to announce the results of a brand-new report that looks at countries all around the world and decides which is the most liveable.

They look at things like stability (25%); quality of health care (20%); culture and the environment (25%); education (10%) and infrastructure (20%) all broken down into 30 different bite-sized benchmarks.

The Top 5 Countries in the World:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. Austria
  4. Finland
  5. New Zealand

There, now we know.

Okay, I’m making it up a bit, this is the report I’ve really been looking at.

Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Index 2014

MelbourneYes, that’s a picture of Melbourne who has come top in this index for the fourth year running. Even the people of Melbourne must be thinking…

“Us again, most liveable? Strewth!”

In fact the entire top 10 hasn’t changed since last year, when I didn’t report on this index, or the year before when I whinged the Worlds Most Liveable City is NOT Brisbane?

For those of you who don’t want to click back through to my previous article, here’s the top 10 list again. It’s no trouble, honest, I’ll just copy and paste it.

Top 10 most liveable cities:

1.  Melbourne, Australia
2.  Vienna, Austria
3.  Vancouver, Canada
4.  Toronto, Canada
5.  Calgary, Canada
5.  Adelaide, Australia
7.  Sydney, Australia
8.  Helsinki, Finland
9.  Perth, Australia
10. Auckland, New Zealand

For what it’s worth and in order to be a little more accurate, as you can see Adelaide and Calgary actually came joint fifth this time, whereas in 2012 the Canadian city was slightly ahead of the South Australian capital. So in two years Adelaide appears to have made slight ground, but that’s the only difference.

About those five countries

The first reason I have broken down the top five countries this time is because, as the report itself points out, it’s interesting to note their population densities.

Australia and Canada have population densities of 2.88 and 3.40 people per sq km respectively and Finland and New Zealand both have densities of 16 people per sq km. The global land average is 45.65 people per square kilometre and in the US, for example, it’s 32.

Conclusion: low-density population is good for liveability.

It’s one of the things that drove me to move to Australia, I remember cutting the following picture out of the Daily Mail long before I’d secured my visa…

pop-per-sqThere are roughly 2.5 square kilometres in a square mile, so, for example, England had around 400 people per square kilometre at the time.

To prove the point further, Bangladesh, which as you can see from my newspaper cutting has an extremely high population density, came 139th in this year’s liveability index. Only Damascus in Syria was below them.

The second reason is it’s interesting to look at their locations.

This years liveability report talks a lot about stability, or more to the point, instability, of which there is a good deal at the moment in this world.

Stability is one of the highest single contributors to these rankings, but if a country is not stable it doesn’t just lose points for stability but in other key factors as well. For example, instability will also “damage infrastructure, overburden hospitals, and undermine the availability of goods, services and recreational activities” states the report.

The further a country is from these instabilities, the better, and nobody could argue that Australia, Canada and New Zealand are good distance away from most things.

There is always exceptions to the rule though; Austria whose capital Vienna seems to be a constant in the top 10 has a population density of 100 people per square kilometre and is landlocked in the middle of Europe between West and East.

Obviously they are doing something right in Vienna.

Hard luck Brisbane again?

Brisbane came 20th again, something that amuses us Brisbanians greatly as we know for sure we are better than Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth.

EIU senior economist John Ferguson highlighted some areas where we fell short. “The quality of public transport, the availability of housing and the quality of water. That’s enough of a difference to push the city down to 20th position.

No sour grapes here, honest. Although the Courier Mail ran an article in which they stated that you could grab a really expensive beer in “some dark, dank, urine-scented stabby alleyway” somewhere in Melbourne and that Adelaide should probably be indefinitely shut down by the Department of Health for coming up with pie floaters.

They weren’t finished either; of Sydney they said “you’ll be crying yourself to sleep trying to make rent in your half-million-dollar 14sq m bedsit” and the best view of Perth was “achieved from the window of a speeding plane, taking off on the long, long, long flight to somewhere less boring.

You can’t beat a good bit of healthy interstate rivalry.

Other cities

London, in 51st position, is apparently now the third worst European city on the list, only Lisbon and Athens are below them and Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is the only European city to make the top 10.

Paris and Tokyo are joint 18th, Berlin is 21st, Dublin 47th, New York is 56, Moscow 70 and Beijing 74th.

That wraps up the liveability index for another year, hopefully I’ll remember to copy and paste the same top 10 again next August. Or who knows, maybe something will change?

For more, visit The Economist blog.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Ariel August 31, 2014, 1:57 am |

    Yikes, we didn’t even get one American city! Maybe we will figure it out eventually!

    However, I have a question about the population density factor. Australia as a whole boasts a low population density, but isn’t the majority of the continent uninhabited? In other words, the quality of life factor would be determined more accurately by the population density within mostly the coastal areas with the major cities that most Australians live in/near, rather than counting the huge outback that practically no one lives in (and would probably rate pretty low in terms of quality of life–scorching desert, plus where’s the public transport/nightlife? hehe). This website summed it up: “…Sydney (C) – East (with 8,800 people per sq km). The neighbouring Sydney (C) – West (7,900) and Waverley (A) (7,500), which is located just east of the Sydney (C) LGA and contains the beach-side suburbs of Bronte and Bondi, had the third and fourth highest population densities in Australia. The most densely populated SLA in Victoria was Melbourne (C) – Inner with 8,000 people per sq km, making it the second most densely populated SLA in the country.”
    My point is population density doesn’t seem to matter at all considering Australia probably got #1 because of its excellent cities on the top 10 city list, such as Melbourne with 8,000 people/sq km. Meanwhile the outback/desert probably constitutes at least 80-90% of the country and contains less than .1-1 people/sq km so it greatly skews the population density of the country, when the actual livable areas would be considered pretty packed. NYC has 10,424/sq km (converted from 27,000/sq mi unless I did it wrong–entirely possible). Anyway this is the comparison with the most populous US city. So I would say those cities are both very populous yet something besides population density put Melbourne at #1 and New York… somewhere. Meanwhile I live right around the US Melbourne which for funsies comes in at a whopping 873 peeps/sq km and no one cares 🙂 Thus its not pop. density but quality of infrastructure, culture, transportation, things to do, whatever else makes cities interesting, you’d have to tell me because apparently US cities generally suck so I wouldn’t know what it’s like to live somewhere livable 😛

    Oh wait, on the Monocle Quality of Life survey Portland made it in at 23! Which is funny because Portland is the hipster capital of the US… Oh God. (Reader: see “Portlandia” the show). lol

    P.S. I am making no argument against Australia as #1, just the supposed population density reasoning. My boyfriend and I would love to at least visit–obviously considering the possibility of more if I’m on this website! It’s a long shot though.

    • Ariel August 31, 2014, 2:07 am |

      Oh I see now in the article that New York is 56. Also, sorry my post is so excruciatingly long 😀

      • BobinOz September 1, 2014, 6:53 pm |

        No need to apologise for the long post Ariel, it wasn’t excruciating at all, but instead jammed with some very useful facts and figures. I haven’t checked them all, so I’m assuming they are right :-), but it doesn’t overly matter if they are exactly accurate, the point you make is correct.

        I think the actual figures are that 85 – 90% of our population in the major cities, and I think it is also a fact that 10% of our population lives in Western Sydney.

        So it’s not just about population density, it’s more than that. Although I would argue that a low population density overall does help because any one of us only needs to drive an hour or so out of big city and we are in the huge expanse of countryside that surrounds us. It also means we have something like 26,735 kms of coastline with 7,000 beaches. If you include the coastline of Tasmania and some of the larger islands that belong to Australia, it’s actually 47,070 kms of coastline. So, as a rule, our beaches don’t tend to get overcrowded. But yes, you are right, it’s more about infrastructure and facilities, but having plenty of space around us certainly helps as well.

        For the most part though, I can’t imagine living in Australia would feel that much different to say, living in America, population density wise. You have plenty of space as well, and a lot of beaches, so I can’t think there would be too much noticeable difference.

        Other than our cities seem to be rather more liveable 🙂

        Thanks for your contribution, hope to see you and your boyfriend here soon.

        Cheers, Bob

  • Valter Russo August 21, 2014, 8:12 pm |

    Hi Bob

    well, i was looking for Lisbon on those charts,since im Portuguese and stuff, but i couldn´t find it, although i fond kiev (ukrain) which its in Europe as well as Sofia(Bulgaria), and has a really low score,even lower than Athenes.
    the link you gave us do not have the info i need to tell my girlfrind the ”Lisbon is no good, lets get to Australia” story.ahah, just kinding…she already knows :/

    Valter Russo

    • BobinOz August 21, 2014, 9:55 pm |

      Lisbon does get a mention in my post, it’s below London (51st) and it’s the second worst city in all of Europe. That should be enough to convince your girlfriend 🙂

  • djmcbell August 21, 2014, 5:22 pm |

    Just to update your England population density (this is England only, not including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) from the 2011 census –

    Population: 53,012,456
    Density: 407/km2 or 1,054.1/sq mi

    So a bit more now. These are from Wikipedia.

    You know, you’d think that with the increase in people living in England (yes, immigration is a hot topic here), there would be more spending going on within schools, the NHS, GPs and other services. After all, the vast majority of people in the UK, whether immigrant or not, pay tax. We should be getting new houses, schools, hospitals etc. However it seems to be the other way round, which I can’t quite fathom out why. Homes aren’t getting built, at least not on a great scale. School places aren’t really turning up and class sizes are increasing. Hospital wards are closing down. David Cameron recently promised “permanent austerity”.

    Okay, I may be getting a bit off-topic with that. But it does genuinely confuse me.

    • BobinOz August 21, 2014, 9:53 pm |

      Permanent austerity? That sounds like fun.

      Well, the population hasn’t gone up as much as I would have thought, but whichever way you look at it, it’s still a quite crowded country comparatively. Anyway, a lot cheaper just to shove a few more desks and chairs in the same class, saves building new schools and hiring additional teachers 🙂

      I’m not gloating, I think every country is in the same boat when it comes to governments not spending, everyone’s skint, but we all keep paying more taxes.

      • djmcbell August 21, 2014, 10:50 pm |

        Hehe – I remember seeing on the news a while back that some schools had trialled “standing desks”, where pupils would stand rather than sit.

        • BobinOz August 22, 2014, 7:56 pm |

          I bet the kids loved that!

          • djmcbell August 23, 2014, 12:14 am |

            In actuality, I don’t think they said it was that bad. They had some standing desks and some normal desks and took it in turns between standing and sitting. Apparently standing is supposed to help boost their concentration and the amount of work they do.

            • BobinOz August 24, 2014, 8:32 pm |

              … and make their legs ache. 🙂

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