Expat Essentials

Vienna No. 1 … again: Europe sweeps Mercer’s list of best cities

Ah, our favorite time of year, when everyone is releasing “World’s Best Cities” lists ….


Because safe, stable and high-functioning European countries and their cities inevitably sweep lists where quality of life is a deciding factor. Just the way African and Middle Eastern cities, sadly, tend to sweep the Worst Places on Earth rankings.

Vienna once again claims its rightful place atop Mercer’s 19th Annual Quality of Living Ranking. For – get this – the eighth year in a row, Vienna tops their list of best cities for global expansion and the corporate expat assignments it takes to make that happen.

European cities own the Mercer Top 10 rankings, with eight of the Top 10/11 slots. ( Basel and Sydney are in an unlikely tie … think about it.)

This list is about you, fellow expats.

Mercer_QualityofLiving_2017_GlobalFrom the Mercer news release:

City infrastructure, ranked separately this year, plays an important role when multinationals decide where to establish locations abroad and send expatriate workers. Easy access to transportation, reliable electricity, and drinkable water are all important considerations when determining hardship allowances based on differences between a given assignee’s home and host locations. 

Vienna beat out other dream cities including Zurich, Geneva and Copenhagen.

The Top 10 list (actually, 11)

1 – Vienna

2 – Zürich

3 – Auckland

4 – Munich

5 – Vancouver

6 – Düsseldorf

7 – Frankfurt

8 – Geneva

9 – Copenhagen

10 – Basel

10 – Sydney

For the record, we’d like to point out we’ve praised Frankfurt several times as a very underrated city…. okay, enough about us. With the exception of Basel, all the cities on the list are on the 2016 version, just in different places.

Mercer bases its picks on quantifiable data, scoring cities on how well they function. The ground truth, as they say in the Army … infrastructure rankings assessing things like drinking water, communications, electrical grid, public transportation including traffic congestion (or lack of) and global connectivity through flights.

On just pure infrastructure, Singapore is No. 1 … but of course, infrastructure isn’t everything when it comes to quality of life. Fun, exciting and beautiful is why Vienna wins.

Deteriorating infrastructure in the United States puts American cities way down the list. The best the U.S. of A. could do was San Francisco at No. 39, followed by Boston (35), Honolulu (36), New York (44), and Seattle (45). LA and Chicago dropped nine and four places respectively because of crime. Probably not a great time to be an expat going to the U.S.

Though there are certainly far worse place … such as Baghdad at No. 231 and last, just behind Bangui in the Republic of Central Africa.

About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and careers of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people

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