I n vienna they call it Lebenskunst—the art of living well—and now that restaurants and museums in the Austrian capital have reopened, it is once again the perfect place to practise the art. A new survey of “liveability” by EIU, our sister company, agrees. For the third time in the past five years, Vienna has come top of the EIU’s ranking. The city offers plenty of opportunities for culture and entertainment, as well as good infrastructure and overall stability. Five other small European cities feature in the top ten, having also benefited from the easing of covid-19 restrictions. Yet since last year Paris and London, which usually perform less well in the ranking because of big-city problems like congestion and crime, have soared 23 and 27 places to 19th and 33rd respectively, as they start to treat covid as endemic rather than a pandemic. (See chart.)
Originally designed as a tool to help companies assign hardship allowances as part of expatriates’ relocation packages, the EIU’s index rates living conditions in 172 cities (up from 140 last year) based on more than 30 factors. These are grouped into five categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. This is the second year in which the index incorporates indicators related to covid; these assess how each city has coped with increased demand on health–care facilities and with closures or capacity limits for schools, restaurants and cultural venues.