Make most of your magic metropolis
WHENEVER the world’s cities are ranked in a new liveability survey you can usually bet on a couple of things: Melbourne and Sydney will appear in the top 20, and Melbourne will rate higher than Sydney.
That means, of course, Melbourne’s burghers have long gone on endlessly about how liveable the southern capital is ( subtext: Sydney might be brash, beautiful and a great place to visit, but Melbourne is a superior place to call home).
In fairness, Victoria’s capital does boast a park- filled openness and elegance, and everything is relatively accessible.
It does have liberal licensing laws, it does have central markets that are world- class, the roads are free- flowing and wide and the city’s public transport system actually works in ways that many Sydneysiders can only dream about.
Indeed, so many are the city’s assets that in 2004 Melbourne was crowned the world’s most liveable city in a survey by The Economist .
Since then, though, the city has slipped in surveys.
For instance, in Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s 2007 worldwide quality- of- living survey, Melbourne comes in 17th, while Sydney ties for ninth with Switzerland’s Berne.
Perth was 21st, with Adelaide 30th and Brisbane 32nd ( for the record: Zurich topped the survey and Baghdad, not surprisingly, was bottom of the list).
Mercer’s rankings are based on 39 living criteria, including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport and other public services.
The company compiles the figures as a benchmark for governments and corporations aiming to place employees on overseas assignments.
‘‘ Organisations can struggle to find suitably qualified local staff when operating overseas,’’ Mercer principal Yvonne Sonsino says, so they ‘‘ rely on benchmark data to ensure the rewards they offer encourage employees with transferable skills to accept international assignments’’.
In other words, Mercer’s rankings take into account what an expatriate executive might look for in a place to relocate to.
It’s a snapshot of the sort of lifestyle the privileged and well- paid can expect to access, but do they really get to the nub of what is a truly liveable city?
Tyler Brule, a columnist for the International Herald Tribune , the creator of the style bible Wallpaper magazine and now the brains behind the European- based Monocle magazine, doesn’t think so.
In his publication’s liveability survey, in the current issue, ‘‘ tolerance, punctual transit, plenty of sunshine and the ability to get a drink in the wee hours all count for something’’, he says.
‘‘ It’s about a combination of all of things that make life in the city better and who’s doing it best.’’
Personal safety features highly in the Monocle survey — as indeed it does in Mercer’s and The Economist ’ s — so US cities scored particularly poorly on this criterion.
Another important quotient, according to Monocle , are the hours of sunshine and average temperatures — which means London and Paris do poorly.
Yet more criteria include the cost and quality of public transport and taxis, the quality of local media, access to nature, the amount of green spaces to stretch out in, not to mention the ease with which you can find a drink after 1am.
So it was that Monocle came up with a shortlist of the 20 most liveable cities.
At number- one is Munich, chosen for its ‘‘ winning of investment in infrastructure, high- quality housing, low crime, liberal politics and strong media’’, writes the magazine’s William Boston.
Second is Copenhagen, followed by Zurich, Tokyo and Vienna.
Melbourne just missed out on the top 10 ( slotting in at number 11) and Sydney managed a creditable nineth on the list.
That really makes you wonder about the magazine’s research efforts when it so clearly professes that ‘‘ punctual transit’’ really counts for something.
They clearly haven’t ridden on a Sydney bus or train.