Liveable or lovable?

At the start of every year, the Economist Intelligence Unit produces a report of the ‘World’s Most Liveable Cities’. The results have always been surprising to many, as the cities that top the list are not necessarily the most popular of the urban centres around the world.

In the latest 2011 list, Vancouver, for the 5th consecutive year, has been crowned as the world’s most liveable city. It is followed by Melbourne, Vienna, Toronto and Calgary. What about New York? Yes, the city which is hands down one of the most captivating of all cities and the dream of many, including mine, has not even made it to the top 50 of the world’s most liveable cities! Instead, New York ranked in at 56, and London, another favourite of many, at 53. Moreover, Los Angeles, the city of the stars and the glitz and glam, made it to the 44th spot. How can it be, that these cities, the vibrant cosmopolitans, the dream destinations of many, are not considered liveable? Not even among the 20 most liveable cities of the world? To my delight, though, Manchester is the UK’s most liveable city, ranking in at 42!

However, this is where I wonder, does liveable mean lovable? As a person interested in sustainability and the preservation of the environment, the list toppers of the liveability list do make sense, to a certain extent.  Jon Copestake, editor of the report, explained that mid-sized cities in developed countries are the ones that tend to score high on liveability. The reason behind this is that such cities have relatively low population densities, leading to more benefits and fewer issues related to crime & congestion. Most importantly, such cities also have more green space, and place the environment amongst its top priorities. So, honestly speaking, would you rather live in Vancouver or New York? What about settling in Calgary over residing in London? Or would you choose Melbourne over L.A.?

Although many surely dislike congestion and the hassle of living in a big busy city, the majority, especially in this day and age, love the thrill of living in a city where you are a stranger; a city of opportunities where every day you encounter new faces and discover new places. Isn’t that what most people look for in a city? The Empire State building, Times Square, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, Big Ben & the London Eye are just a few of the city attractions that people travel thousands of miles just to see and experience. But, according to the liveability report, all these things do not determine a city’s liveability.

In my humble opinion, the Word’s Most Liveable Cities report is surely important, as it rewards those cities that are exceptionally strong in the factors that define a ‘liveable city’. It also exposes cities that not many take notice of, like Adelaide in Australia, which was placed as the 9th most liveable city in the world. It can also serve as an incentive for cities, like London, to improve in all areas and work towards making it to at least the top 50. And in Manchester’s case, it works as a confidence-booster and also as a motivator for the city to keep moving forward. However, perfection isn’t always the most exciting. And as they say, “A beautiful thing is never perfect”.


Manchester image by www.samryley.com – tell him we sent ya.

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