Posted on January 25, 2012

Quality of Life Index: 7 German speaking cities top the poll

Berlin/ Current Affairs/ Romantique

Each year The Quality of Living Index by consultancy Mercer provides us with an insight on which city in the world is most livable based on 39 criteria.

A whopping 7 cities in German speaking countries (Austria, Switzerland & Germany) topped the Top 10 in 2011.

Having lived in Berlin for most of my life and in the UK for the last 7 years, I can see why the “Germanic” countries provide such a good standard of living.

So here’s the countdown countries number 11 up to 1:

Number 11, Sydney, Australia: A temperate climate (mild winters and warm summers), stunning scenery in and around Sydney, high life expectancy and a low crime rate (thanks to the nanny state) catapult Sydney right to the front.

Number 9: Copenhagen, Denmark beats European cities such as Barcelona, London and Stockholm coming in at number 9. Good work/life balance and the high standards of social welfare such as free education and health care reflects the high rating.

Geneva, Switzerland,  number 8: With a population of only 185,958, Geneva is an international diplomacy hub and it’s citizen enjoy excellent health care and education.

Frankfurt, Germany, number 7: Frankfurt is the “London” of Germany, it’s financial hub and also the home of continental Europe’s biggest airport. It boasts an excellent education system:

Germany has top class state schools and universities which is provided for free. Private schooling is not common in Germany which contributes to an equal society. The exemplary dual education system (combination of apprenticeship and vocational training) enables people to learn 356 occupations (such as oven builder or doctor’s assistant) regulated by national standards. If you study at University, one semester abroad is funded by the government, even pocket money is included in this deal!

Vancouver, Canada, number 6: Canadian cities dominate the top of the ranking for the area North America. Vancouver is a coastal city which has excellent standards of education and health care for North American standards.

Duesseldorf, Germany, number 5: Duesseldorf offers more than 100 temporary art galleries, it is known for it’s fashion and trade fares and like the rest of Germany, benefits from an excellent public service and transportation network: An extended speed train network and tube systems are mostly owned by the government who has the money to spend on modernisation rather than private companies who are solely profit driven.

Excellent health care is a factor that contributes greatly to quality of living:

We don’t think much about it while we’re healthy, but having competent  medical care when you’re sick is most of the crucial aspects of Life. Germany, Austria and Switzerland’s world class health and dental care is law enforced,i.e. the population is legally obliged to pay a relatively  high percentage of their salary (50% contribution from the employer and 50% contribution from the employee) towards medical insurance.

The doctor’s rate per ca pita is high, meaning that access to Medicine is easy and there are no waiting times.

Munich, Germany, number 4: Munich is the capital of Bavaria and Germany’s publishing hub. It exudes a relaxed Italian cafe culture and outdoor culture and the proximity to Italy, Austria,  Switzerland and the Alps make the city an attractive place to live.

Auckland, New Zealand, number 3: Apparently, when flying to New Zealand, stewardesses always make a point of telling you to put the clock back 10 years! Still, Auckland is coming in at an impressive number 3. It’s New Zealand’s most beautiful and biggest city, with a warm temperate climate and an excellent education system. One third of Auckland’s population holds a bachelor degree or higher and they also have over the highest disposable income in New Zealand.

Zuerich, Switzerland, number 2: Last year I visited Zuerich and had a great time. Although it’s a relatively small city (you can walk in 30 minutes from one end to the other), it has a very international feel to it and a Mediterranean flair with it’s beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and excellent Italian outdoor restaurants. And let’s not forget the chocolate and the exquisite gateaux!

Vienna is #1: Home of Mozart, it is Europe’s cultural capital with more than 100 museums, relaxed coffee house culture and 2,000 parks! Vienna also won the 2010 UN urban planning award for improving the living conditions of its residents. Under a multimillion-euro program, the city refurbished more than 5,000 buildings with nearly 250,000 apartments”

Before I went abroad, I didn’t know that things like double glazed windows, central heating systems, solid, noise proof apartment blocks or balconies are not everywhere the norm in Europe.

Central Europe’s big cities are rental cities – i.e. the population rents rather than buys flats  and big block of flats are owned by large corporations with enough budget to maintain the flats and invest in renovation if necessary (as apposed to private landlords). As a house owner, the government subsidises structural renovation and you are given tax breaks, ensuring a modernised standard for housing.

Speaking for Germany, rental prices are reasonable and you do not need to spend most of your salary for rent like in London, New York or Paris. You can get a modern 1 bedroom flat in Berlin Mitte with parquet floors and 10 minutes from the city centre for as little as 500 EUR a month!

My home town Berlin is coming in at number 17. It is the cheapest capital of Europe and while it doesn’t have the economic power of the Southern German cities due to it’s isolation during the cold war, it is now finding it’s place as Germany’s hub for the service industry such as communications, information technology, marketing, and more recently tourism.

Berlin has a fascinating history with it’s troubled past of WW2, cold war and reunification, all of which you can feel when you walk through the city . Stunning architecture ranging from Medieval to Baroque is a feast for eyes. Berlin-Mitte boasts more art galleries than coffee shops and 3 opera houses guarantee no lack of recreational activities. For which Germans have lots of time with an average of 30 annual leave days plus up to 14 public holidays!

The only British city in the TOP 50 is London coming in at number 38.

Have a look at Mercer’s index if you are curious to see where your city ranks. Ultimately, everyone needs to decide for themselves which criteria is important to them and after all:

There is no place like home!


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