Hamburg drops 47 places in ranking of world's most liveable cities

Hamburg drops 47 places in ranking of world's most liveable cities

Successful management of the coronavirus pandemic has helped to propel eight Asia-Pacific cities into the top 10 of a new ranking of the world’s most liveable cities. European metropolises, including one German city in particular, proved to be the biggest losers. 

The Global Liveability Index 2021

Every year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) publishes its Global Liveability Index, a ranking of 140 cities worldwide according to their “liveability” - a score that takes in a number of factors across five categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. 

For the first time this year, the Global Liveability Index has also taken into account how individual cities across the world dealt with the global pandemic, and how this impacted the lifestyles of people living in those cities. 

Auckland is the world’s most liveable city in 2021

The result has been a major shakeup of the ranking, compared to previous years. The New Zealand port city of Auckland has been catapulted to the top to claim the title of “most liveable city in the world” in 2021. Four other Asia-Pacific cities - Osaka, Adelaide, Tokyo and Wellington - secured the remaining top five spots. 

“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,” the EIU said in a statement. 

And neighbouring Australia - which like New Zealand was able to contain the pandemic thanks to its uniquely isolated location and early response - has also shot up the rankings. Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane now join Adelaide inside the top 10. To date, Australia has recorded just 910 coronavirus-related deaths, and New Zealand just 26. 

German and European cities slide in the rankings

Within Europe, however, this year’s ranking is a sorry sight, as the impact of coronavirus seriously depressed the liveability scores of some former high-flyers. The Austrian capital of Vienna, which topped the ranking last year, dropped down to 12th place. Only two European metropolises - the Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva - managed to make it into the top 10. 

While eight of the top 10 biggest falls were experienced by European cities, it was the German port city of Hamburg that claimed the crown for the biggest slide: dropping 34 spots to 47th overall. Frankfurt fell 29 places to rank 39th, and Düsseldorf also slipped a massive 28 places, to rank 50th. 

The EIRU attributed this poor performance to the “burden on hospitals” and the associated strain on healthcare. These factors were felt particularly strongly in German and French cities. Lockdown restrictions also severely impact culture and overall liveability across Europe. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global liveability,” the EIU said. “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.” 

The top 10 most liveable cities in the world in 2021

These 10 cities made it to the top in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2021 ranking of the World’s Most Liveable Cities:

  • 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

You can find more information about the ranking on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s website



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

Read more



Leave a comment