Escapologists wanting to leave their home country, whether for a mini-retirement or permanent resettlement, would do well to consult the annual quality of life lists. (The one conducted by Mercer is probably the most consulted and there’s one by The Economist Intelligence Unit too.).
My personal favourite is the one published by Monocle magazine, which just came out. I have a special love for this list because it takes into account such measures as “number of bookshops” and “well-maintained swimming lakes” as well as the usual quality of life indicators (like crime rate, infrastructure, and cost of living).
I notice that Montréal has fallen from 19th place to 24th in the list since I moved here two years ago. Probably just coincidence.
Here is 2012’s top ten most livable cities according to Monocle:
The rankings continue thusly: Kyoto (11), Fukuoka (12), Hong Kong (13), Paris (14), Singapore (15), Hamburg (16), Honolulu (17), Berlin (18), Vancouver (19), Madrid (20), Barcelona (21), Portland (22), San Francisco (23), Montréal (24) and Geneva (25).