Canadian Cities Plummet On The Economist’s List of Livable Cities, While US Climbs

Canada has lost the bragging rights to having some of the best cities in the world for livability. Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released their Global Liveability Index for 2021. New Zealand managed to claim the top spot, with Japan and Switzerland not too far behind.

Canada dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time in decades. Instead, the country found itself ranking in the list of fastest falling cities. Over in the US, the smaller city hype is apparently very real. Cities that managed to attract Millennials during the pandemic are amongst the fastest rising on the list. Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest takeaways.

Yes, the Economist spells it “Liveable,” and not “livable.”

New Zealand, Japan, and Australia Top The List of Livable Cities

None of the Top 10 cities were in North America, and only one European city managed to make the list. New Zealand scored two of the spots, with Auckland winning the title of most livable city in the world.

Japan managed to score two spots as well. Osaka came in second, and Tokyo ranked fourth. Both cities managed to work their way into the list in 2018. They’ve ranked amongst the most livable cities ever since. 

Australia managed to score the most spots in the Top 10 list, with four cities ranking. Adelaide (#3), Perth (#6), Melbourne (#8), and Brisbane (#10). The country has managed to rank a few cities going back to at least 2015.

Switzerland is the only European country in the Top 10. Actually, it’s the only country in the West to be able to score a spot near the top of the list. Zurich ranked in seventh, with Geneva following in the eighth spot. This is the first time the country landed a Top 10 spot since 2015.

Canada Falls Out of The Top 10 Livable Cities, Ranks For Fastest Falling On The List

Notably absent from the top of the list is Canada, which had dominated in prior years. This is the first year going back to at least 2002 where there are no Canadian cities in the Top 10. Going back to at least 2015, three cities rank — Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. Vancouver even topped the list from 2002 to 2010, as the most livable city in the world. That changed almost as quickly as the country’s real estate prices have been rising.

Canada did make one of the Economist’s top lists this year — the fastest deteriorating cities in the world. Montreal managed to drop to number 40 from their previous list, which is a drop of 19 spots. This made it the 10th fastest falling city on the list. 

The US Dominates The List of Fastest Improving Cities

The United States didn’t make the Top 10 list, but dominated the list for the fastest-rising cities. Seven of the top ten fastest-rising cities for livability were in the country: Honolulu (#14), Houston (#31), Miami (#28), Pittsburgh (#25), Chicago (#28), Minneapolis (#36), and Boston (#34). These cities have notably been making the news for attracting residents of more expensive cities, like San Francisco and New York.

Rounding out the fastest climbing cities on the list were in the countries of Spain and Australia. Madrid was the third fastest-rising, and Barcelona was sixth. Melbourne, which broke the top 10 list, was the tenth. 

The Liveability Index ranks cities on stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure. The pandemic had a very large shift on where cities ranked in the index. North American cities plummeted on the list, as they exposed their weaknesses. The Economist said this was primarily due to the heightened stress on healthcare resources.

The US cities that were the fastest rising on the list, also happened to have the fewest pandemic restrictions. This helped to lure young adults from traditionally expensive cities, as well as many of their employers. This is likely to lead to a larger and more long-lasting shift than most think.

Once the pandemic is over, things should begin to become a little more balanced. Just don’t expect things to go back to the way they were, because the talent has already been hemorrhaged. 

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  • Ahmed 3 years ago

    I’m really regretting that I didn’t move to Florida during the pandemic. So many friends are hustling in a city that actually wants people to succeed.

    Meanwhile we’re just watching politicians debate on how small they can make a home, so they can keep pumping the average home price higher.

    • Marc 3 years ago

      Didn’t bite the bullet either since I couldn’t visit to check out neighborhoods, but I’m definitely doing it this year. If you’re not into real estate or weed, Canada’s got nothing for you.

    • sn 3 years ago

      100% in the same boat. I’ve got an American Ivy League MBA and 15 years of experience, and see no income growth prospects in Canada. Was in GTA because wife thought its a nice place to live.

      No more, and I’m out as soon as I can land something in the States.

      • Alex 3 years ago

        You paid ~200k USD for an education to then work 15 years(assumedly) in a city with a median income of 48k CAD? Sounds like there isn’t a particular focus on opportunity cost and ROI principles within prestigious US B-Schools.

        • Marco Von Marcovich 3 years ago

          It’s how you can tell he’s just lying in a post to vent hehe

    • D 3 years ago

      If any Canadian is considering moving to America for a higher paying job while also running back to Canada for free healthcare then you’d need a masters degree to get a decent job there otherwise you’d be competing with millions of bachelor degree’d unemployed Americans. They want quality from Canada.

      • Omdo 3 years ago

        Yupp…. if you got PhD, you will be over-qualified to apply job in Canada and have to accept the job with lower qualification and income. If do not have a degree, Canada is heaven, higher minimum wage and free healthcare. High salary jobs will go South, labour job will stay here.

        • D 3 years ago

          >Canada is heaven
          Canada has a $30k (Canadian money) median wage, obviously not heaven at all.

          • Om 3 years ago

            Heaven, if we compare min wage in Canada, compared to the US. If you do not have a degree and work for minimum wage, Canada is much better than the US. Federal minimum wage in US is around $7 per hr, Canada min wage is around $13 per hr.

      • Joe B 3 years ago

        Good luck. US companies don’t sponsor us Canadians or other international candidates the way they used to given practices of the previous administration. I know from experience as I work for a fortune 100 in the US but luckily got in years ago.

        • OOps 3 years ago

          Can you exit to the US with a generic operations/sales role at a US company with Canadian operations? If you’re like a good performer? Is that possible after years of experience?

          As in, asking for a US transfer?

          Or has anyone who isn’t elite/ CS Stem waterloo undergrad fucked?

          • Joe B 3 years ago

            Yes, ask your HR/ Legal department about transferring to a US site under L-1 visa category. They need to assess your eligibility and ensure it meets USCIS requirements. Given your line of work it will be challenging but not impossible.

      • Marco Von Marcovich 3 years ago

        There is no “running back to Canada for free healthcare”. Once you’re out of the country for 183 days your healthcare is put on hold until you move back and live here paying taxes for 183 days.

  • Jamie 3 years ago

    Buy on Trump, sell on recovery was the way to go. I moved to San Fransico a couple years ago, and couldn’t be happier, even while everyone is migrating more inland.

    Paying for an expensive house isn’t a problem. It’s paying for an expensive house, where real estate is the only industry that’s a problem. Canada is incredibly overrated.

    BTW, as a former Canadian, I would love to see more US content on Better Dwelling. The US is missing the same sort of contextual coverage that’s real estate focused. It’s just a market number rehash, which lacks authenticity.

  • D 3 years ago

    Chicago (Chiraq) more livable than Frankfurt? Funny list.

    • Dave 3 years ago

      I live in Toronto now, but I’m from Chicago and work for a Chicago company.

      Chicago is an amazing place, with very few places that are unsafe. The media plays up the small and dangerous part because it’s a Democrat city. I’m a Republican, and even I know that’s BS.

      Some of the best architecture in the world, and the suburbs are like small towns with no crime. It’s like two blocks where crime happens, and it’s because the politicians use it like a pressure cooker. Even those two blocks are currently being gentrified though, and will probably just be more high rise buildings in the next 5 years.

      • D 3 years ago

        Meanwhile the murder rate is higher in Chicago than Detroit and way higher than Toronto.

      • Dwight 3 years ago

        “It’s like two blocks where crime happens”

        Check out the map in the middle of Half of the south and west sides are no go zones.
        As I’m writing this, the site shows 4 dead and 36 wounded from shootings SO FAR this weekend. This year Chiraq will have a murder total larger than all of Canada.

        Of course it does have a murder RATE much less than St Louis, Detroit or Baltimore, so 2 thumbs up there.

  • Scott MacKinnon 3 years ago

    And we Canadians think that Detroit could never happen to a Canadian city…

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