World’s Most Livable Cities

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).

Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount today.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price each issue.


Robert Wringham is the founder and editor-in-chief of New Escapologist. He's also a humourist and performer.

6 Responses to “World’s Most Livable Cities”

  1. Silver Ether says:

    Where does Wolverhampton come into this …lol

  2. Penny says:

    What about a poll for the world’s most loveable cities….maybe the results would be about the same!

  3. Antti says:

    Helsinki by winter. I would not call it exactly livable. 1 meter snow and -15 degress.

  4. We have the same problem in Montreal (24 on the list). It can be as cold as -35 and the snow as deep as Helsinki’s. I must admit to finding it a lot to bear.

    The climate is part of the reason for Montreal’s rents being so low. So at least there’s that. And with low rents and high-density living comes a Bohemian spirit. It also gave us the poutine.

  5. Drew says:

    Livable also needs to be affordable. Vancouver…? If you move beyond the major cities, you can get into a whole list of smaller, more affordable, even more livable places.

    I would also like to see “availability of quality espresso” factored in.

  6. Quite often, the cities appearing on the ‘most livable’ list and their kin are a tad on the boring side, I must admit. The general consensus on Vancouver is that it’s perfectly nice but rather square from what I can gather. Same goes for Zurich and Geneva and places like that. So yeah, you’re right: I prefer places like Berlin. Helsinki is on the list though and that looks interesting to me. This list from Monocle is probably the closest that quality of life lists come to factoring in things like good espresso: the economist and Mercer ones are more about infrastructure, cost of living, and investment.

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issues One to Nine

Become a Master of Escapology and get a 10% discount when you buy our complete back catalogue to date. 753 beautifully-typeset pages. £46.

issue eight

Issue Eight

Staying In. Featuring an interview with Luke Rhinehart; Robert Wringham on the pleasures of illness; Matt Caulfield on cigars; Nicollette Stewart on alternative dwellings; and Ellie Harrison on becoming a good citizen. 94 pages. £6.

Issue Nine

Take the Money and Run. Featuring a short piece by Luke Rhinehart; an interview with philosopher Joseph Heath; comedian Ian Macpherson; and blog giants Jacob Lund Fisker and Mr Money Mustache. 92 pages. £6.

The Book

Escape Everything! Pledge to buy our forthcoming complete guide to escape and be rewarded not only with a beautiful new hardback book but also your name printed inside and a host of other potential rewards for larger pledges. 300 pages. £20 (£10 eBook).