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What Makes a Livable City?
#1
What Makes a Livable City?

The world's most livable city?  Vienna, Austria.  

   

Every year, The Economist publishes their Global Livability Index, their list of the most, and least, livable cities in the world and Vienna has found themselves as the king of the castle.

Three Canadian cities find themselves in the top 10, Calgary (4th), Vancouver (6th) and Toronto (7th).  The list put out once a year assesses stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure in 140 different cities.

Interestingly enough there is a Canadian list of most livable cities put forth by Moneysense but it's quite different.  They look at the 25 most livable cities in Canada and this year's winner is Oakville, jumping all the way up from spot number 15 last year.

What's most interesting is that neither Calgary nor Vancouver make the list and Toronto comes in at number 16.  The difference between the two lists is significant.  

Sadly, Waterloo Region did not make the cut.

To be honest, I'm a bit taken aback by the results.  The top three on the Economist's list are Vienna, Melbourne (Australia) and Osaka (Japan).  These are three urban centers.  Calgary, while having an urban core has more of a suburban vibe to it by comparison.  The Conversation even goes as far as to call Calgary "the poster city of suburban sprawl."

So with such significantly different lists of the most livable cities, I ask you this:  What makes a livable city?
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#2
They moved Vienna to Italy? Nobody tells me ANYTHING .... ! Wink
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#3
Ohhhhh man. Where's the embarrassed emoji?
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#4
These indexes consider a finite set of weighted criteria, often too narrow...and often seem to miss key 'liveable' criteria - such as average commute times, cost and reach of public transportation, air quality, purchasing power parity / cost-of-goods and services, housing costs, 'rough sleeping' / homelessness, mental illness (perhaps difficult to measure), cleanliness (street-level / recycling), public services, emergency-response call times, access to youth services, drug addiction issues, crime-rates, and the list goes on and on.

The challenge is that some factors are more subjective to each individuals social value system and how importance is weighted...including factors that can't be controlled, like weather, landscape, perceived friendliness - which certainly affects 'liveability' for many people. For me, Toronto's public-transportation and long commute-times diminished my view of Toronto as one of the greatest liveable city. In contrast, many big cities (especially here in Germany) have better roads, less traffic, cheaper public transportation, faster/cheaper access to airports, free/cheap street parking, etc. --> those factors affect the lives of millions of people each day in Canada, hence reports like this: https://globalnews.ca/news/4287922/toron...h-america/
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#5
(09-24-2018, 08:32 PM)kidgibnick Wrote: These indexes consider a finite set of weighted criteria, often too narrow...and often seem to miss key 'liveable' criteria - such as average commute times, cost and reach of public transportation, air quality, purchasing power parity / cost-of-goods and services, housing costs, 'rough sleeping' / homelessness, mental illness (perhaps difficult to measure), cleanliness (street-level / recycling), public services, emergency-response call times, access to youth services, drug addiction issues, crime-rates, and the list goes on and on.

The challenge is that some factors are more subjective to each individuals social value system and how importance is weighted...including factors that can't be controlled, like weather, landscape, perceived friendliness - which certainly affects 'liveability' for many people. For me, Toronto's public-transportation and long commute-times diminished my view of Toronto as one of the greatest liveable city. In contrast, many big cities (especially here in Germany) have better roads, less traffic, cheaper public transportation, faster/cheaper access to airports, free/cheap street parking, etc. --> those factors affect the lives of millions of people each day in Canada, hence reports like this: https://globalnews.ca/news/4287922/toron...h-america/

What are the EIU's criteria?
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#6
(09-24-2018, 09:23 PM)panamaniac Wrote: What are the EIU's criteria?
  • Stability, including the prevalence of petty and violent crime, the threat of terror, and the threat of military conflict
  • Healthcare, including the availability and quality of healthcare, both public and private
  • Culture and environment, including climate, level of corruption, level of censorship, and sporting availability
  • Education, including the availability and quality of private education
  • Infrastructure, including the quality of road networks and public transport, the availability of good quality housing, the quality of telecommunications, and the quality of water and energy provisions
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#7
(09-24-2018, 08:32 PM)kidgibnick Wrote: These indexes consider a finite set of weighted criteria, often too narrow...and often seem to miss key 'liveable' criteria - such as average commute times, cost and reach of public transportation, air quality, purchasing power parity / cost-of-goods and services, housing costs, 'rough sleeping' / homelessness, mental illness (perhaps difficult to measure), cleanliness (street-level / recycling), public services, emergency-response call times, access to youth services, drug addiction issues, crime-rates, and the list goes on and on.

The challenge is that some factors are more subjective to each individuals social value system and how importance is weighted...including factors that can't be controlled, like weather, landscape, perceived friendliness - which certainly affects 'liveability' for many people. For me, Toronto's public-transportation and long commute-times diminished my view of Toronto as one of the greatest liveable city. In contrast, many big cities (especially here in Germany) have better roads, less traffic, cheaper public transportation, faster/cheaper access to airports, free/cheap street parking, etc. --> those factors affect the lives of millions of people each day in Canada, hence reports like this: https://globalnews.ca/news/4287922/toron...h-america/

All really good points.  I found the criteria between the various indexes to be interesting too.  Especially the fact that some on the global list rank lower on the Canada only list.  You'd think that they'd be at the top, but the criteria is clearly very different.
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#8
The criteria used to define 'liveable city', 'quality of living', and 'greatest / best city to live' are quite different across EIU, Forbes, Mercer, Monocle, etc.

The Economist is ranking Toronto as #1 "Best City" because Toronto is indeed the fastest growing area for (tech) jobs, ahead of Seattle, NYC, Bay Area, and DC.
They do consider cost-of-living, but I think they've weighted this lower - because PPP and BMI clearly prove that Toronto is more expensive (housing, food, dining, insurance, etc.) than other top contenders.

Of course, the "most liveable / quality" cities are usually the 'dream' cities - the most expensive places to live: Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Copenhagen, etc. These places are culturally beautiful and socially dynamic; attracts ambitious people; provides all the essentials, except for the really important point that it's too expensive for average middle-class people of the 1st world. It doesn't consider disposable/dispensable income rates, how difficult it is to find (affordable) housing (for single income vs. family), or cost of housing (rent / buy), dining-out cost --> falls under PPP or BMI. Without those things being satisfied, it's quite difficult to 'live well' somewhere.

This article makes some good points why the liveable cities index are wrong: https://www.forbes.com/2009/08/10/cities...be8a3a2181

Monocle's Quality of Life Index:
- Safety/crime
- International connectivity
- Climate/sunshine
- Quality of architecture
- Public transport
- Tolerance
- Environmental issues and access to nature
- Urban design
- Business conditions
- Pro-active policy developments
- Medical care

Mercer Quality of Living Index:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement)
- Economic environment (currency-exchange regulations, banking services)
- Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
- Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution)
- Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools)
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion)
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure)
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars)
- Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)
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#9
(09-25-2018, 09:23 PM)kidgibnick Wrote: Of course, the "most liveable / quality" cities are usually the 'dream' cities - the most expensive places to live: Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Copenhagen, etc. These places are culturally beautiful and socially dynamic; attracts ambitious people; provides all the essentials, except for the really important point that it's too expensive for average middle-class people of the 1st world.

Seriously? You are saying that middle-class people can't live in Zurich or Copenhagen? You can easily rent a one-bedroom apartment (with good transit connections) in Copenhagen for less than C$1500. Zurich will be somewhat more expensive, but all of the above are far less expensive than London or New York, let along San Francisco.
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#10
Seriously? You are saying that middle-class people can't live in Zurich or Copenhagen? You can easily rent a one-bedroom apartment (with good transit connections) in Copenhagen for less than C$1500. Zurich will be somewhat more expensive, but all of the above are far less expensive than London or New York, let along San Francisco.
[/quote]

I did not say middle-class people can't live there, you misinterpreted. Apologies for poor wording. Clearly, people from all income brackets live in these cities, but the ratio of high-income earners and living costs plays into the equation. A challenge might be that low and middle income earners sometimes experience friction with living-costs in these very expensive cities. One example is because those costs are higher than the adjustment of their income from city-to-city (a hair dresser's wage in Munich is regulated differently or at a different rate on average than in Berlin). For example, lower income earners may find it more difficult to dine-out in places like Munich...because in contrast to a city like Berlin, the city-to-city cost of living wage-adjustment in Munich may not be high-enough to off-set those even higher costs of living. My point was to say it could be a contributing factor why there is often faster growth (especially amongst millennials and lower/mid-income earners) in sub top-5 cities (Dublin, Helsinki, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Budapest, etc.). For a bigger Canadian city, it could partly explain Calgary's growth (and KW's for that matter) -good-value for-money combined with all other factors, in contrast to Toronto and Vancouver, which are generally ranked higher.
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