A fiaker sits on horse-drawn carriage in the streets of Vienna on November 13, 2013.  A fiaker sits on horse-drawn carriage in the streets of Vienna.
Credit: Getty Images

If you want the good life, move to Vienna. Or Zurich. Or Auckland. But avoid Baghdad and the Georgian city of Tbilisi.

On Wednesday, financial services company Mercer will release its annual quality of living index, evaluating 223 major cities around the world.


Vancouver ranks as the best North American city to live, with Mexico City one of the worst. Indeed, Canada outperforms the United States, with Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal ranking higher than the first U.S. city, San Francisco.

In Central and South America, San Juan and Santiago rank high, while Port-au-Prince and Managua rank near the bottom. Among selected other results are Saint Petersburg (168th) and Frankfurt (seventh).

Metro spoke with Ellyn Karetnick, the U.K. head of Mercer’s International Mobility Practice.

Zurich is generally considered a boring city. Which factors do you look at when deciding what makes a city livable?

That’s a subjective opinion. We look at health care standards, schools and education, good transport infrastructure, the political and social environment. We also look at things like parks. We go around counting the number of parks. This list is really about looking at how attractive cities are to expats.

Baghdad claims the bottom spot. What makes it worse than, say, Johannesburg?

Baghdad continues to struggle with security issues, and lacks the infrastructure for people to be able to buy international goods.

And which cities are out this year compared to last year?

There are several second-tier emerging cities, such as Wroclaw in Poland and Xian in China, that are becoming attractive to foreign investment.

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