Swiss cities continue to top world rankings

Could be worse: enjoying the Zurich sun on the banks of the Limmat Keystone

Zurich has been confirmed as the city with the highest overall quality of living in the world, according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

This content was published on April 2, 2007 - 22:18

Geneva came in second position, ahead of Vancouver, Vienna and Auckland. European, Canadian and Australian cities continue to dominate the rankings, which saw little movement among the top 50 cities and none among the top ten.

Mercer's yearly worldwide quality of living survey evaluates 215 cities on 39 criteria including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport, and other public services.

Each city is awarded a score according to how far the quality of life available exceeds or falls behind New York, which is the base city at 100. Zurich scored 108.1 and Geneva 108.0.

The survey helps governments and multinational companies to choose relocation destinations and place employees on international assignments.

"Companies managing a global workforce must take into account a range of factors when structuring remuneration packages for their expatriate employees," said Yvonne Sonsino, principal consultant at Mercer.

"Incredible achievement"

Business leaders in Zurich were delighted.

"The importance of quality of life as a decisive factor for company expansions and relocations has steadily increased in recent years," said Sonja Wollkopf, chief operations officer of the Greater Zurich Area AG.

"To have bested the greatest cities in the world six times in a row is an incredible achievement and underlines the competitiveness of Zurich and the Greater Zurich Area as a business location and place to live."

The Greater Zurich Area AG, a non-profit organisation, is the marketing association for the Greater Zurich Area business region.

It recruits international companies abroad and assists them with setting up companies and making investments in the Greater Zurich Area.

Different strokes

While global businesses pay close attention to such rankings, the cities at the top of the list might not be for everybody.

"A city with a high quality of living index is a safe and stable one," said Mercer.

The consultants admit however that such destinations "may be lacking the dynamic 'je ne sais quoi' that makes people want to live in world-renowned cities such as Paris, Tokyo, London or New York [which come 33rd, 35th, 39th and 48th respectively]".

"Sometimes you need a little spice to make a city interesting," Mercer continued. "But that 'spice' may also give a city a lower ranking."

It is doubtful however that a lack of spice is why Baghdad remains the world's least-enticing city for expatriates, with a score of 14.5.

"In recent years the gap between low-ranking and high-ranking countries has widened," said Slagin Parakatil, a senior researcher at Mercer.

"While standards have improved in some regions, there remains a stark contrast between those cities where overall quality of living is good and those experiencing political and economic turmoil."

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Canton Zurich has a population of 1.2 million, approximately one-sixth of the total population of Switzerland, while the city itself has around 360,000 inhabitants.

Much of the local population speaks at least one other language than German.

Around 3.7 million people – half the Swiss population – live and work within one hour's drive of Zurich's city centre.

85 of the 100 biggest Swiss companies are headquartered in the Zurich area.

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Key facts

Mercer Human Resource Consulting Worldwide Quality of Living survey 2007 (top 10 cities):
Zurich score 108.1
Geneva 108.0
Vancouver 107.7
Vienna 107.7
Auckland 107.3
Dusseldorf 107.3
Frankfurt 107.1
Munich 106.9
Bern 106.5
Sydney 106.5
Lowest ranked: Baghdad 14.5

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