The World's Best Places to Live 2008

 

Mercer Consulting's annual roundup of the global cities with the best quality of life is here, and Zurich once again comes out on top.

 

The best place in the U.S.? Honolulu at No. 28

 

By Carl Winfield

New York, London, and Paris are internationally renowned cities but consultants at Mercer Consulting have picked Zurich, Switzerland, as the best place to live in the company's annual survey.

Consultants rated each city on a variety of factors including the level of traffic congestion, air quality, and personal safety reported by expatriates living in more than 600 cities worldwide. In the top 25, U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago were all edged out by Geneva, Switzerland, Vancouver, B.C., and Auckland, New Zealand. The highest-scoring U.S. city is Honolulu, which came in at No. 28.

Still, Mercer acknowledges that cities with a high quality of life are not necessarily the most exciting. "There are a lot of 'sleepy' towns that got high ratings," said Rebecca Powers, a principal consultant in human capital for the company. "But if you were to judge them on something like nightlife, there are some that probably wouldn't have rated as high."

No. 1: Zurich

Switzerland

Mercer score: 108*
2007 rank: No. 1
GDP: $300.9 billion (2007 est.)**
Population: 7,581,520 (total country); 347,517 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.74 years

No. 2 (tie): Vienna

Austria

Mercer score: 107.9
2007 rank: No. 3
GDP: $319.7 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 8,205,533 (total country); 1,825,287 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.36 years

No. 2 (tie): Geneva

Switzerland

Mercer score: 107.9
2007 rank: No. 2
GDP: $300.9 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 7,581,520 (total country); 185,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.74 years

No. 4: Vancouver

Canada

Mercer score: 107.6
2007 rank: No. 3
GDP: $1.274 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 33,212,696 (total country); 560,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 81.16 years

No. 5: Auckland

New Zealand

Mercer score: 107.3
2007 rank: No. 5
GDP: $112.6 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 4,173,460 (total country); 1.18 million (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.24 years

No. 6: Dusseldorf

Germany

Mercer score: 107.2
2007 rank: No. 6
GDP: $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 82,369,548 (total country); 581,858 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.1 years
 

No. 7 (tie): Munich

Germany

Mercer score: 107
2007 rank: No. 8
GDP: $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 82,369,548 (total country); 1,332,650 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.1 years

No. 7 (tie): Frankfurt

Germany

Mercer score: 107
2007 rank: No. 7
GDP: $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 82,369,548 (total country); 3,700,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.1 years

No. 9: Bern

Switzerland

Mercer score: 106.5
2007 rank: No. 9
GDP: $319.7 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 8,205,533 (total country); 122,178 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.36 years

No. 10: Sydney

Australia

Mercer score: 106.3
2007 rank: No. 9
GDP: $766.8 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 20,600,856 (total country); 4,297,100 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.73 years

No. 11: Copenhagen

Denmark

Mercer score: 106.2
2007 rank: No. 11
GDP: $204.6 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 5,484,723 (total country); 1, 086,762 (total city)
Life expectancy: 78.13 years

No. 12: Wellington

New Zealand

Mercer score: 105.8
2007 rank: No. 12
GDP: $112.6 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 4,173,460 (total country); 370,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.24 years

No. 13: Amsterdam

Netherlands

Mercer score: 105.7
2007 rank: No. 13
GDP: $638.9 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 16,645,313 (total country); 740,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.25 years

No. 14: Brussels

Belgium

Mercer score: 105.4
2007 rank: No. 14
GDP: $378.9 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 10,403,951 (total country); 1,067,162 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.07 years

No. 15: Toronto

Canada

Mercer score: 105.3
2007 rank: No. 15
GDP: $1.274 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 33,212,696 (total country); 2,481,494 (total city)
Life expectancy: 81.16 years

No. 16: Berlin

Germany

Mercer score: 105
2007 rank: No. 16
GDP: $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 82,369,548 (total country); 3,405,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 79.1 years

No. 17 (tie): Melbourne

Australia

Mercer score: 104.8
2007 rank: No. 17
GDP: $766.8 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 20,600,856 (total country); 3,850,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.73 years

No. 17 (tie): Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Mercer score: 104.8
2007 rank: No. 18
GDP: $38.79 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 486,006
Life expectancy: 79.18 years

No. 19: Ottawa

Canada

Mercer score: 104.7
2007 rank: No. 18
GDP: $1.274 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 33,212,696 (total country); 774,072 (total city)
Life expectancy: 81.16 years

No. 20: Stockholm

Sweden

Mercer score: 104.5
2007 rank: No. 20
GDP: $333.1 billion (2007 est.)
Population: 9,045,389 (total country); 794,700 (total city)
Life expectancy: 80.74 years

No. 28: Honolulu

U.S.

Mercer score: 103.1
2007 rank: No. 27
GDP: $13.86 trillion (2007 est.)
Population: 303,824,646 (total country); 380,000 (total city)
Life expectancy: 78.14 years