A Survey of Best Cities Surveys

Every year several surveys of the world’s best, or most liveable cities are released. The most prominent are those of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Mercer, and Monocle Magazine.

The well-known quality of life surveys give little or no consideration to Cost of Living. As a result they invariable throw up a selection of very pleasant cities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Austria and Germany that are also very expensive places to live.

You will need to hit the ground earning $40,000 to $50,000 gross to get by in any of these cities, so that you clear $2,500 monthly after tax, social security deductions etc. to rent a decent apartment and live a comfortable life for a single person.

How do these ‘most liveable’ cities do when Cost of Living is taken into account and given a significant weighting?

New website 400Cities.com answers the question:

Which cities globally are Cheap, Safe, Sunny, and have fast Internet?

A proprietary algorithm determines the #400Cities Index from crowd-sourced data prices, crime and safety. Cost of living in any city measured in US Dollars is going to vary from day to day as FX rates change. This is accounted for by the live FX feeds supplied to the site 400Cities.com

Note the concentration of dark blue in South-East Europe and Iberian Peninsular countries.

400Cities takes as input a climate rating that is applied according to the Köppen-Geiger classification for that city.

No judgement is made about how attractive individual cities are. Users can investigate their own preferences in their filtering and sorting.

What happens when the data for the world’s best cities according to The Economist, Mercer and Monocle are analysed by the 400Cities algorithm?

Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist’s 2016 results are here. It takes absolutely nil account of Cost of Living. Zero. Nada.

This is how The Economist’s Top 10 cities score in the #400Cities Index. The Nomad Index for each city is calculated as a function of

A. Cost of Living B. Internet Infrastructure C. Crime and Safety, and D. Climate.
EIU Best 10 Cities rated by 400Cities.com

Only a single city, Vienna, makes it into the top 100 according to 400Cities.com.

It’s laughable that Calgary should be included as a prime liveable city. Its Köppen-Geiger classification is Dfb — Warm humid continental climate.

Here is Calgary on 9 November 2014, when the peoples of the Mediterranean and South-East Europe are collecting walnuts and late-season grapes and citrus ripens in the orchards:

For Calgarians who dread the back-breaking snow-shovelling and bone-chillingly cold of winter, they will have some chinooks to look forward to for occasional blasts of warmth.

“Most certainly we’ll see some chinook events as well this year,” Vettese said. “We’ll certainly see some going forward this winter.”


Mercer’s 2016 results are here:
 Quality of Living Survey

The results calculated by the 400 Cities algorithm upon 400Cities data:

Mononcle Magazine

Monocle Magazine’s 2016 results are here:
Most Liveable Cities Index

The results calculated by the 400 Cities algorithm upon 400Cities data:

Finally a single city, Lisbon, that has Moderate costs as opposed to Expensive or Extreme costs makes the cut.

The 400Cities.com Best Cities

The 400Cities.com Worksheets are dynamic: Cost of Living automatically adjusts for changing FX rates in real-time. As a result the #400Cities Nomad Index will change fractionally minute by minute, depending on how lively or calm FX markets are. So, depending on how FX markets pan out over coming months, the Top 10 is quite likely to change. For example, if the Turkish Lira gets a lot more expensive against the USD, Antalya might lose its #2 spot. FX rates are continously evolving.

The Top 14 Cities, 400Cities.com, September 2016

Pictures of the Top 50 Cities in the 400Cities survey (at August 2016) (Courtesy of Sözcü newspaper).

Click for pictures of Top 50: Istanbul, #11 in the ranking

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