Vancouver’s tied for fifth among world's top cities to live


A new survey judges Vancouver to be one of the top five places to live in a world of rising social unrest and falling economic conditions.

Consulting group Mercer assesses a range of factors, including safety, infrastructure, environment, plus culture and social climate, said company principal Luc Lalonde.

In a list dominated by European cities, Vancouver netted a fifth-place tie with Dusseldorf, Germany, among 200 cities worldwide.

“We look at quite a few factors and Vancouver tends to do well across the board,” Lalonde said in an interview Tuesday.

Mercer compiles information to help multinational organizations judge where business and employees will best be placed, and whether “hardships” are a factor. Lalonde said Vancouver’s natural beauty, temperate climate, and relatively good schools, health care and low crime rates make the city an easy sell for expatriate workers.

In the Americas, Vancouver was judged to be the best place to live, followed by Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Honolulu.

Worldwide, Vienna’s excellent infrastructure, affordable public transit, street safety and good public health service made it the best place to live, according to Mercer. The worst place was Baghdad.

“Those cities and countries that have escaped the brunt of social unrest and economic downturn have been able to continue investing in urban infrastructure and other provisions for comfortable and enjoyable daily living to improve the quality of living for their residents,” the report said.

University of B.C. real estate and economics professor Tsur Somerville said he generally takes quality-of-life surveys — in which Vancouver typically places high — with a grain of salt.

“I don’t think these things drive housing values, but they confirm what people already know,” he said. “Being a very attractive place to live means people will pay a premium to be here.”

On the oft-discussed topic of red-hot Vancouver real estate, Somerville said prices have actually been “pretty slack” since spring. But he doesn’t see a big drop, unless interest rates rise dramatically, or people suddenly lose confidence.

“My sense is we’ll see a more subdued market,” he said, noting softness this year is “an expression of global uncertainty, and how fast the market rose (after the 2008 financial crisis subsided.”

The report notes: “If economic and political instability remain a global factor, cities in parts of Asia-Pacific and Western Europe, as well as in Canada, will continue to benefit from their relative stability and wealth of public services and recreational provisions.”


Top 10 in Mercer Quality of Living survey

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Zurich, Switzerland

3. Auckland, New Zealand

4, Munich, Germany

5, Dusseldorf, Germany (tied for fifth)

5. Vancouver, Canada (tied for fifth)

7. Frankfurt, Germany

8. Geneva, Switzerland

9. Bern, Switzerland (tied for ninth)

9. Copenhagen, Denmark (tied for ninth)



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