Livability Rankings in the U.S. and Worldwide

Authored by: Michelle Connavino and Alexandra Malkin

Photo by Flickr user James

A number of entities give cities in the U.S. and abroad scores for livability based on a variety of criteria. Use these resources to find out how livable your city is!

International Rankings

The Economist Inelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Livability Report ranked Melbourne, Australia as the most livable city in the world in its most recent calculations. The EIU ranks 140 cities worldwide, based on “30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure." No U.S. cities ranked in the top ten this year, and Pittsburgh was the highest ranking at 22. Read more!

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks over 460 cities worldwide. Its rankings are based on:

Living conditions according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories: political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement); economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services); socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom); medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.); schools and education (standard and availability of international schools); public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.); recreation (restaurants, theatres, movie theatres, sports and leisure, etc.); consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.); housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services); natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

Mercer’s 2012 report gave its top spot to Vienna, Austria. Honolulu, Hawaii received the highest ranking among U.S. cities at 28.

Monocle magazine’s Most Livable Cities Index named Zurich, Switzerland the most livable city in the world.  The magazine’s index takes into account some unique measures, such 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)." Monocle’s list also has Honolulu as the highest ranked U.S. city at 17. Read more!

International Top 10 Livability Rankings


US Rankings

Forbes called Pittsburgh America’s Most Livable City in 2010. Their team ranked over 200 U.S. cities based on five criteria: unemployment, crime, income growth, the cost of living, and artistic, and cultural opportunities. is a website that allows you to input the aspects of a city that are important to you and your lifestyle in order to find a place that will best suit your preferences and needs. The site focuses primarily on small to mid-size cities across the U.S., and allows users to search for cities by state. It regularly compiles “Top 10” lists around different themes such as “Top 10 Foodie Cities,” “Top 10 Best Winter Vacation Destinations,” “Top 10 College Towns,” and “Top 10 Cities for Book Lovers.” is another online resource that ranks a city’s livability based on amenities, cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, housing, and weather. Each city is given a score between one and one hundred. The site compiles data from a number of resources, such as the U.S. census, the Council for Community and Economic Research, and the National Weather Service-- allowing users to search any U.S. city or location of any size.  The site currently ranks Plano, Texas as the best place to live in the country.

Businessweek’s America’s 50 Best Cities put San Francisco at the top of its list. The scoring of 100 of the biggest U.S. cities was based on “leisure attributes (the number of restaurants, bars, libraries, museums, professional sports teams, and park acres by population), educational attributes (public school performance, the number of colleges, and rate of graduate-degree holders), economic factors (income and unemployment), crime, and air quality.

Artplace America compiled a list of the 2013 Top 12 ArtPlaces in America using what they call “vibrancy indicators”: population density, employment rate, percentage of workers in creative occupations, number of indicator businesses, number of jobs in community, walkability, number of mixed-use blocks, cell phone activity, percentage of independent businesses, and number of creative industry jobs. The organization chooses to focus on arts because they believe in the “idea that arts-related activity plays a key role in contributing to the kind of quality of place that attracts and retains talented people and enables people to put all their talent to work." Their top 12 cities, listed alphabetically, are: Brooklyn, NY; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami Beach, FL; Milwaukee, WI; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC.

US Top 10 Livability Rankings


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