Researchers assessed 140 cities across the globe and scored them on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.
Auckland, known internationally for its multi-cultural hub of food and music, topped the list thanks in part to the New Zealand Government’s handling of Covid-19, with the country having only recorded 26 deaths.
The Japanese port city of Osaka came in second while surprisingly, the often-overlooked South Australian capital of Adelaide came in third after being recognised for its thriving arts culture and renowned wineries.
‘Six of the top ten cities in the March 2021 survey are in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live relatively normal lives,’ the EIU said.
Despite enjoying some of the most relaxed restrictions of all Australian cities, Sydney dropped from third to 11th, behind four other local state capitals.
Auckland has been named the world’s most liveable city for 2021, due in part to its containment of Covid
Researchers assessed 140 cities across the globe and scored them on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure. Pictured: The Japanese port city of Osaka came in second
The global survey was postponed in 2020 as enforced lockdowns made it difficult for contributors and expert analysts to collect data for many cities.
Neither London nor New York made the top 50, while the least liveable city is the Syrian capital Damascus for the ninth year in a row.
The list has been compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit as part of its Global Liveability Ranking for 2021.
According to the EIU, Auckland rose to the top of the ranking ‘owing to its successful approach in containing the Covid pandemic, which allowed society to remain open and the city to score strongly on a number of metrics including education, culture and environment’.
In joint fourth place is another city in New Zealand, Wellington – famous for its scenery and sprawling mountains – and the Japanese capital Tokyo.
Surprisingly, the often-overlooked South Australian Adelaide capital came in third thanks to its thriving arts scene
Australia was ranked high on the list, with Perth coming in sixth followed by Zurich, Switzerland in seventh.
Geneva and Melbourne tied for eighth, and Brisbane rounded out the list at 10.
Sydney just misses out on a place in the top 10 and came in at 11th most liveable city for 2021.
The highest-ranked city in the UK is Manchester in 54th, while London is ranked 60th.
The most highly-rated American city is Honolulu, which has rose 46 places this year to take 14th spot.
The EIU says this is due to its ‘strong progress in containing the pandemic and rolling out its vaccination programme’.
THE WORLD’S MOST LIVEABLE CITIES INDEX 2021
THE 10 MOST LIVEABLE
1. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Osaka, Japan
3. Adelaide, Australia
4= Wellington, New Zealand
4= Tokyo, Japan
6. Perth, Australia
7. Zurich, Switzerland
8= Geneva, Switzerland
8= Melbourne, Australia
10. Brisbane, Australia
THE 10 LEAST LIVEABLE
131. Caracas, Venezuela
132. Douala, Cameroon
133. Harare, Zimbabwe
134. Karachi, Pakistan
135. Tripoli, Libya
136. Algiers, Algeria
137. Dhaka, Bangladesh
138. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
139. Lagos, Nigeria
140. Damascus, Syria
Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit
Other US cities in the ranking are Atlanta (24th), Pittsburgh (25th), Houston (31st), Boston (34th), Minneapolis (36th), Seattle (40th), San Francisco (joint 43rd), Washington DC (joint 43rd), Cleveland (48th), Detroit (52nd), Los Angeles (55th), Lexington (56th) and New York (59th).
At the bottom of the table, cities in Africa, Asia and South America make up the least liveable cities.
These are Caracas in Venezuela (131st), Douala in Cameroon (132nd), Harare in Zimbabwe (133rd), Karachi (134th), Tripoli (135th), Algiers (136th), Dhaka (137th), Port Moresby (138th) and Lagos (139th).
Overall, the EIU says the Covid-19 pandemic caused liveability to decline in the last 12 months ‘as cities experienced lockdowns and significant strains on their healthcare systems’.
It adds: ‘This led to an unprecedented level of change in the rankings, with many of the cities that were previously ranked as the most liveable tumbling.
‘In particular, European and Canadian countries fared poorly in this year’s edition. Vienna, previously the world’s most liveable city, fell to the 12th position. While the biggest mover down overall was Hamburg, which fell 34 places to 47th.’
Upasana Dutt, head of global liveability at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global liveability.
‘Cities across the world are now much less liveable than they were before the pandemic began, and we’ve seen that regions such as Europe have been hit particularly hard.
In joint fourth place is another city in New Zealand, Wellington (pictued) and the Japanese capital Tokyo
‘The cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are largely the ones that have taken stringent measures to contain the pandemic.
‘New Zealand’s tough lockdown allowed their society to reopen and enabled citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle that looked similar to pre-pandemic life.
‘One area where there has been regrettably little change is at the bottom of our rankings.
‘Damascus remains the world’s least liveable city, as the effects of the civil war in Syria continue to take their toll. Indeed, most of the previous 10 least liveable cities remain in the bottom 10 this year.’