Our list of the best and worst cities to live in worldwide is based on the careful analysis of the socio-cultural environment, recreation opportunities, transport infrastructure, public services, health and social care, natural environment, availability and quality of consumer goods, and political environment of cities across the globe. Take a look at the cities that ranked highest and lowest in our survey. Knowing where is the best and the worst will keep you from wrongfully investing your time and energy moving somewhere where you shouldn’t.
20. Best: Vienna, Austria
For nine years running, Vienna has been voted the world’s most livable city by those in the known. The city benefits from strikingly beautiful architecture, rich history and cultural heritage. A healthy natural environment is also a key concern in Vienna and the city has adopted a range of environmentally-friendly initiatives to help safeguard the environment and assist its residents to live sustainably. Green spaces are thus important in German-speaking Vienna whose 1.8 million residents have good reasons to enjoy life. Vienna is also a good city to conduct business.
19. Worst: Baghdad, Iraq
You may not be surprised to see Baghdad at the top of our list of the world’s least livable cities. Ravaged by war, the city is suffering the ongoing effects of continued armed conflict. Baghdad is a largely lawless place where the risk of kidnapping and murder by extremist groups is constant. With poor healthcare and crippling instability, there are as yet no clear signs that the situation in Baghdad is improving.
18. Best: Zurich, Switzerland
Before Vienna rose to the top, Zurich was widely considered to be the best city to live in worldwide. It is the largest city in Switzerland and, like Vienna, boasts a rich culture and history, a stable economy and safe, clean public spaces. Its other similarities to Vienna include its respect for our natural world and environmentally-friendly policies and its official language, German.
17. Worst: Bangui, Central African Republic
The Central African Republican capital of Bangui is the country’s largest city. Many of the people living there depend on aid to survive as Bangui is exceptionally poor. Moreover, the city sees regular outbreaks of sectarian violence. Since becoming independent, the Central African Republic has remained an unstable nation. The country as a whole has a high rate of crime and poverty even though the nation is home to rich deposits of uranium, oil, diamonds, and gold.
16. Best: Auckland, New-Zealand
Ranked joint third with Munich, the city of Auckland is the only city in Oceania to make it onto our list. Its weather is a real plus for residents, with warm summers and mild winters. It is also a culturally vibrant city that boasts fantastic museums full to the brim with important artworks. Auckland can claim to attract pretty much anyone with these conditions! The city is English-speaking but also has an indigenous population that speaks the native New Zealand language of Māori.
15. Worst: Sana’a, Yemen Arab Republic
The UN has described what is currently going on in Yemen as the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world. Approximately 8 million people are facing starvation and a million have been impacted by a cholera outbreak. The country’s economy has also collapsed. Sana’a is Yemen’s largest city and has been nearly destroyed by Saudi Arabian airstrikes, stuck in the middle of a proxy war being fought between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
14. Best: Munich, Germany
Our other third-place winner Munich is also Germany’s third-largest metropolis. The 1.5 million residents of Munich can enjoy the city’s rich cultural life (it has 46 museums and 47 theaters) and numerous and impressive parks, such as the Englischer Garten, a stunning park that stretches across an incredible 375 acres.
13. Worst: Port au Prince, Haïti
The Haïtian capital of Port au Prince is the educational and economic center of the country. Nonetheless, violent crime is rife in the city and travelers are warned against visiting. Vigilante violence, in particular, is on the rise and robbery and rape are widespread.
12. Best: Vancouver, Canada
This port city on the westernmost tip of Canada won its place on our list due in part to its stunning natural environment. With the ocean in one direction and mountains in the other, Vancouver is a beautiful place to live. Its multicultural residents, who speak English, Mandarin, Punjabi, Cantonese, and Chinese, among other languages, can ski in the morning and lounge on the beach in the afternoon. Vancouver is especially nice if you have the means to afford living there, as homeowners and wannabe homeowners have exorbitant mortgages.
11. Worst: Khartoum, Sudan
Another capital city, Khartoum, is the second-largest metropolis in Sudan, a country that is among the poorest worldwide. Again, travelers are strongly advised to avoid Khartoum. Kidnapping, home invasion, carjacking, armed robbery and other violent crimes are common as is civil unrest, armed conflict, and terrorism. In addition, the city is used by ISIS as a hub for enlisting recruits.
10. Best: Düsseldorf, Germany
When identifying the cities that offer residents the best quality of life, a common theme is the presence of natural, green spaces and the availability of cultural activities. It is no surprise then that Düsseldorf’s reputation as a center for fashion and architecture, its superb parks, and its many art galleries have helped it get on this list. Sitting on the Rhine, the city is home to 600,000. You can also get great beer in Düsseldorf.
9. Worst: N’Djamena, Chad
The population of the landlocked African nation of Chad has a very low life expectancy and most of its people (63%) live in poverty. Its capital city, N’Djamena, is home to around 7 million people and over the past few years has suffered repeated attacks and kidnappings by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist group. Rather than getting better, food insecurity and the lack of basic education is worsening across Chad.
8. Best: Frankfurt, Germany
The Germans must be doing something right! The city of Frankfurt is the third German entry on our list. The city is relatively small, with a population of approximately 730,000, and is sometimes called ‘Manhattan’ by Germans thanks to its many skyscrapers. However, its skyscrapers don’t dampen its charms. Sitting beside the Main River, the city is ensconced in an enchanting natural environment and is doing what it can to keep people out of their cars with a strong system of public transport and great pedestrian streets. It is also an airport hub for Lufthansa, which means you can travel from the city pretty easily.
7. Worst: Damascus, Syria
Number seven on our list, Damascus has been devastated by terrorism and continued violence in recent years. All the country’s people have seen their lives turned upside down by the effects of war. Corruption in Damascus is another blight on a city once known as the ‘City of Jasmine.’
6. Best: Geneva, Switzerland
Switzerland’s historical commitment to pacifism and Geneva’s role as the home of the UN’s headquarters have earned the city the title of ‘City of Peace.’ Its architecture, history, cultural heritage, and position as a hub of the global economy make it a prosperous and interesting place to live and do business. Moreover, it boasts many parks and a splendid position in the heart of gorgeous natural surroundings.
5. Worst: Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
The Congo’s largest city has no operational public transport infrastructure and has seen wave after wave of protests by residents angry about the corruption of government officials. Several protestors have been killed by police. The city is considered unsafe, with people avoiding leaving their homes after sunset.
4. Best: Copenhagen, Denmark
This vibrant and colorful city is known worldwide for the pretty sailboats moored on its canals in Nyhavn and its charming, brightly-painted houses. As with many of the cities on this list, Copenhagen respects our natural world. The city’s bicycle lanes are second to none and it has just opened a waste-to-energy power plant, with a ski slope on the side, of course. It also excels in food and drink and has become a leader in gastronomic as well as environmental innovation.
3. Worst: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Previously a small fishing village, ethnic nationalist violence has crippled Kinshasa and several NGOs are currently attempting to provide the city’s population with food and aid. The civil unrest and crime prevalent in the city and the DRC, in general, make travel to the region a no-go.
2. Best: Basel, Switzerland
Only Germany and Switzerland have nabbed three spots on our top ten list. Basel is a gorgeous city and looks like something out of a black and white film. Its natural spaces and striking architecture, made up of historic and modern buildings, coexist in perfect harmony. With a population of just 175,000 people and only a handful of museums, Basel is nonetheless considered Switzerland’s cultural capital.
1. Worst: Conakry, Guinea Republic
The final city on our least livable cities list is the port city of Conakry, the capital of the Guinea Republic and also the country’s largest metropolis. The 2014 Ebola epidemic hit the country particularly hard. Moreover, government corruption is widespread, resulting in violent protests that have recently seen 11 people killed. Conakry is not a safe place and alongside violent protests, strikes and violent crime have devastated the city.