Standard of living in Greece remains the same for 2009, with Athens placing #76 for overall quality of living and #102 for city infrastructure.* Although the capital was the highest ranked city in Greece on Mercer’s annual survey, it (again) had the lowest standard of living in western Europe, inching up only one place from #77 in 2008.
This year, Mercer sampled 420 cities worldwide for its global ranking based on 39 criteria that can be quantitatively measured, including:
— Political stability, crime, law enforcement
— Currency exchange, financial regulations, banking services
— Censorship, privacy, suppression of freedom
— Medical supplies/services, waste disposal, pollution
— Standard and availability of education
— Availability/quality of water, electricity, public transport, traffic
— Availability/pricing of consumer goods
— Housing, maintenance, appliances
— Natural environment (climate, wildfires, natural disasters)
Subjective attributes, such as weather, entertainment (clubs, beaches) and culture, are not a part of this survey. Villages and smaller cities tend to not rank on this survey because it is based on worldwide metropolitan areas, where companies have offices and send employees. Also, most of us need to work for a living and job opportunities tend to dwindle outside city limits.
Mercer performs this comprehensive assessment to determine living conditions for expatriate employees. Critics argue that this does not apply to the everyday person, but it is important to remember that expats use the same public services, institutions and living spaces as local residents. Therefore, it is essentially a quality of living analysis for everyone.
In the end, the definition of “quality of life” comes down to personal preference, circumstances and options. For example, some Athenians may not mind frequent strikes, having their electricity and water cut off several times a week, price gouging or the smell of garbage in summertime; but multinational corporations and others may find it difficult to conduct business and enjoy life under such conditions.
Vienna topped Zurich this year to claim the #1 position, and Honolulu and San Francisco were the highest ranked American cities on the survey. If you’ve ever been to any of these cities, it’s easy to understand why.
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Zurich, Switzerland
3. Geneva, Switzerland
4. Vancouver, Canada
4. Auckland, New Zealand
6. Dusseldorf, Germany
7. Munich, Germany
8. Frankfurt, Germany
9. Bern, Switzerland
10. Sydney, Australia
Mercer no longer allows republication of the Top 50 cities or any survey in its entirety, and I respect that. You can click “Top 50 Cities — Quality of Living 2009” to review a table made available to the public. The Economist also published a quality of living survey that ranked Athens, Greece at #63 of 140 cities, which was dead last in Western Europe.
*Note: I received this information from direct personal contact with M. Andersen at Mercer’s Press Office, which makes it exclusive since it wasn’t and isn’t published anywhere else in English.
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