Melbourne: Now the World’s Most Liveable City

It was only in March of this year that I was reporting the latest Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rankings. At the time, there were very few changes, although Melbourne had slipped into second position from being third the previous two years.

Melbourne at nightImage courtesy of vermininc

You can see how all Australian cities fared in that survey and you will also see, if you visit the page, that it is clearly referring to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability Poll 2011.

I also wrote about the results in February 2010, in a post strangely called Australia: Far Too Dangerous and Way Too Liveable.

My first ever post on the subject was called And the Best City Ever to Live In is… and went online in June 2009.

So, we are up-to-date, aren’t we?

Apparently not.

As we speak today, still in 2011 obviously, it appears Melbourne, with the skill and stamina of a dark horse in a Grand National, has rallied up along the rails without any of us realising another survey was due and finally worn down long-time leader Vancouver to take first position.

Yes, Melbourne is now officially the best city in the world to live in having been behind Vancouver for 10 years.

How can this be?

It seemed to me that I must have made some kind of mistake. There was no other way of explaining how this could be. But when I looked into it, I discovered these posts from The Economist themselves….

From February 2011

From August 2011

There it is, for all to see. Two liveability surveys, from the same people in the same year, with different results. No wonder I got confused.

But maybe the answer is simple. Maybe they do the survey twice a year and just never told me.

Anyway, all that aside, here are the latest standings according to the Economist.

The latest top 10. (As at August 30th 2011)

1.   Melbourne
2.   Vienna
3.   Vancouver
4.   Toronto
5.   Calgary
6.   Sydney
7.   Helsinki
8.   Perth
8.   Adelaide
10. Auckland

To save you checking, it is the same top 10 as earlier in the year, with just a few positions having changed. Vancouver has dropped to third allowing Melbourne and Vienna to overtake it, and Sydney has leapfrogged Helsinki from the poll that appeared earlier in the year.

Austria aside, all the other entries in the top 10 list, Australia, Canada, Finland and New Zealand, can be considered low density population countries. Is that telling us something?

I think so, it was reading this in a newspaper in England years ago that made me really want to move to Australia…

Australia's population Compared

London, by the way, was 53rd. It was 51st in 2009 and 54th in 2010.

But what’s happened to Brisbane?

Brisbane’s ‘decline’ in the rankings appears to have coincided with my arrival here. The city has slipped from 16th to 21st in that time. I’m trying not to take it personally.

Given Brisbane’s position, and how much I love living here, I should launch into some kind of counter attack to defend this city’s reputation. But I won’t, because I think 21st out of all the cities in all the world is a pretty high result anyway. The Economist, just like myself, clearly think Brisbane is a fantastic city.

I certainly wouldn’t swap it for any of the other cities on the list.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Alexander March 17, 2015, 5:34 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    Sorry if this does not fit into this category. Have not found anything closer that liveability.
    Now my next question is about heated water supply in Australia. Are there any centralised boilers that can be used collectively, say on a district scale, or people just buy and install smaller boilers at their houses/flats for individual usage?

    • BobinOz March 17, 2015, 6:09 pm |

      I would think solar powered hot water tanks on the roof are the most popular system use here in Australia, that’s an individual tank on each individual house roof.

      You can read about solar power here…

      I think you’ll find that each house will have its own hot water source, there are no centralised boilers I’m aware of. Other options are warm air heated water tanks that are outside of the house and then just plain old electric heated water tanks.

  • Parth October 7, 2011, 11:36 pm |

    Like we always say, a city or country is neither good nor bad, it is for some people and not for others. We have family, who would never move out of Mumbai no matter what was on offer. Having sworn not to leave Melbourne for even Sydney, I was forced to move to the US for a few years and gained some perspective. Yes Melbourne is very nice but that does not mean there are not a whole bunch of serious problems here, If you like the traffic here, I do not even want to imagine traffic in the UK. Trams blocking one lane and parking the other, I thought, was the worst of it, I guess not. My fancy car tells me my average speed in Melbourne has been 35 over the last 2 years…..

    • BobinOz October 10, 2011, 6:51 pm |

      That is true Parth, each to his own as they say. And 35 km/h, well, there are some people in some cities in England who can only dream of those sorts of speeds.


  • Phil October 7, 2011, 2:06 pm |

    I moved from Nottingham UK to Melbourne, but I’ve also lived in London, Zurich, Birmingham and South Africa. Melbourne is a fantastic city, you can earn good money here and have a very good standard of living. We rent a house less than a 1K from the beach and less than 20K from CBD. There’s plenty of culture and great outdoor spaces – not far from the beach or the countryside. Loads of parks and outdoor areas for the kids – all free and not vandalized by local yobs.
    As for UK being near to things due to compactness. This is very true but believe me a 3 hour drive in Australia is much more relaxed than journey from Notts to London – stuck in traffic for hours and paying 1.30GBP for liter of petrol. There’s a reason why no UK cities appeared in the the top. UK has plenty going for it but quality of life for average person is lower in my opinion. UK is a country where best years are behind it as recent illustrated by recent riots and current Government’s response.

    • BobinOz October 7, 2011, 10:15 pm |

      Hi Phil

      Sounds like you have settled in great! That’s good to hear, I know you haven’t been here that long.

      I’ve visited Melbourne briefly, I certainly intend to go back and take a better look at it over a longer period of time. But what I saw, I really liked. Sounds like you give the city a big thumbs up!

      It also sounds as though you’re here to stay, and I don’t blame you. I agree with you completely about distances and traffic, I think driving around Australia is a joy. Some Aussies complain about traffic jams, and compared to what they may have been used to a few years ago, maybe it is a traffic jam.

      But to those of us who have experienced UK traffic, it’s nothing.

  • Parth September 30, 2011, 12:53 pm |

    Best city is in the eye of the beholder, having two kids sick with flu and cold for 4 months of the year, only to be told that the wait at the doctors is either 3 hours or come back another day does not rank high in our books. An eight month old should not have to go through that in any modern city. If you look at the criteria used to come up with this list, you can understand why it makes no sense.

    Not to mention, cannot drive about 40km/h due to terrible infrastructure, shocking trains…..maybe time to move to Brisbane….

  • Hector September 15, 2011, 9:33 pm |

    For what I’ve heard about this city is actually very good, except for the flies…

    • BobinOz September 16, 2011, 10:23 pm |

      When I went, I wasn’t troubled by flies in the city. But a long way outside of the city, about 100 km up the great ocean road, it was really bad!

      • darkprince September 21, 2011, 3:08 am |

        hi bob.
        there is a big factor you don’t mention. what is the population density of sydney/melbourne for eg. compared to london/manchester/leeds?. i wager not a massive difference especially if you take london out of it. most of australia is unliveable desert whereas in england especially cities are close together. there are advantages to this: i like cricket and in one summer i have the choice of seeing 5-6 test matches because they are all within 3 hour driving distance from my house. nearest is 15 mins. if i am in melbourne i can only go to boxing day test because what is happening in perth/brisbane is of no consequence to me. all the cities are very isolated from each other. perth being the most isolated in the world. olympics in london allows a polulation of roughly 40 million to attend because they are within comfortable driving distance – same for big concerts etc – you get the idea. more people [relatively speaking] live in flats/units in the major cities of oz than in england [this might be arguable i accept but it is a close call , i am using this to make a point – population density! overall statistics for OZ as a whole are worthless in this case – nobody wants to live in these low density areas anyway. i am a doctor and they are absolutely desparate to get ANY docs in these areas because certainly not enough aussies in their right minds want to go.
        [disclaimer: i am seriously considering moving to sydney from UK myself. just saying.]

        • BobinOz September 21, 2011, 8:38 pm |

          Hi Darkprince

          I have to agree that the low density figures for Australia are misleading because there are huge areas of the country you wouldn’t want to live in. But that is the same for Canada and Finland as well as many other low density countries.

          That said, there is a very noticeable feeling of being in more space here compared with what it’s like living in England. Most people seem to regard having huge amounts of space between locations as an advantage. That you prefer to live in a place where things are more on top of each other because it’s easier to get to various events is different. I’m not saying it’s wrong, each to his own.

          I remember thinking, as I watched Brisbane play Melbourne in a football match here, the 100 or so away supporters had travelled about the same distance that the people who live in Malaga would have had to travel to get to a match in London. No wonder there was only 100 or so.

          I do disagree with your theory that most people living in the big cities here in Australia are in units or apartments. Those close to the city centre, maybe. Here in Brisbane, most people live in very large houses, much larger than in England. I think all of our cities have very large houses and I would think units and apartments are in the minority.

          For the record, Australia’s two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne are about half as densely populated as England’s two biggest cities, London and Birmingham. I got this from Wikipedia…

          London 1,572.1 km2 (607 sq mi)
          Population (July 2010 est.)
          London 7,825,200
          Density 4,978/km2 (12,892/sq mi)

          Birmingham 103.4 sq mi (267.77 km2)
          Population (2008 est.)
          Total 1,016,800 (Ranked 1st)
          Density 9,684/sq mi (3,739/km2)

          Sydney Population: 4,575,532[1] (1st)
          Density: 2058/km² (5,330.2/sq mi) (2006)[2]
          Area: 12144.6 km² (4,689.1 sq mi)

          Melbourne Population: 4,077,036(Metropolitan area)
          Density: 1566/km² (4,055.9/sq mi) (Urban area; 2006)[2]
          Area: 8806 km² (3,400.0 sq mi) (LGAs total)

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