Vienna 2nd in Monocle’s most liveable list

The prestigious culture magazine, Monocle, has published its most liveable cities list for 2015 - with Vienna coming in second, just beaten to first place by Tokyo.

Vienna 2nd in Monocle's most liveable list
Strandbar Herrmann on the Danube Canal. Photo: Wien Tourismus/Christian Stemper

“Over the past decade Vienna has blossomed like edelweiss, or risen like a phoenix,” Monocle said, managing to reference both The Sound of Music and bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst.

Monocle's Quality of Life survey ranks cities around the globe according to how 'liveable' they are, based on a complex set of metrics that uses both scientific and subjective data.

Factors taken into consideration when drawing up the list include: climate, architecture, crime rate, environmental issues, food and drink, business and design.

Vienna scored highly for the cheapness of its public transport (€48 for a monthly travel pass) as well as cheap restaurants (one can expect to pay €15 on average for a good lunch). It also offers 160 international flight routes and has 39 public libraries.

The city “once had a reputation for being dull, or downright geriatric, but Vienna has been moving into the future on many fronts,” Monocle said, noting that it has made great strides in culture, urbanism and business, but still values its past.

It is, Monocle acknowledges, one of Europe’s best kept secrets” and benefits from a strong sense of civic responsibility.

The London-based lifestyle and culture journal said that Tokyo came top “due to its defining paradox of heart-stopping size and concurrent feeling of peace and quiet.”

It said that it offered great quality of life for those who live there and those who visit, and has everything covered “from culture, to security, to food, to courtesy”.

We can only speculate that the well-known Viennese grumpiness contributed to the Austrian capital being the runner up and not coming first. Berlin rounded off the top three cities.

“We’ve given extra marks to cities that limit their nannying and we’ve tried to give value to places where there’s something else we know is vital: freedom, grit, independence, a joy with life. We’re frustrated with city councils that are too quick to say no, places where parents never let their children run free and capitals that seem opposed to the odd late night out,” the magazine’s editor in chief, Tyler Brûlé, wrote.

Our colleagues at The Local Italy were dismayed to find not one Italian city in Monocle’s top 40 – and so decided to put together their own list of five neglected Italian gems.

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‘Bad-tempered locals’: Vienna ranked the world’s ‘unfriendliest city’

Foreigners in Vienna say the city offers excellent health and transport benefits but has an exceptionally unfriendly population.

'Bad-tempered locals': Vienna ranked the world's 'unfriendliest city'

The Spanish port city of Valencia is the most popular city among international employees this year, followed by Dubai and Mexico City, according to the “Expat City Ranking 2022” by Internations, a network for people who live and work abroad.

The ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider study, in which almost 12,000 employees worldwide participated this year. The report offers insights into the quality of life, settling in, working, personal finances and the “Expat Basics” index, which covers digital infrastructure, administrative matters, housing and language.

Vienna ranks 27th out of 50 cities in this year’s ranking. Although it scores very well in terms of quality of life, many expats find it difficult to settle in and make friends in the Austrian capital.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best and worst districts to live in Vienna (as voted for by you)

Vienna ranks last in the Ease of Settling In Index and also in the Local Friendliness Subcategory. 

Nearly half the respondents in the city (46 percent) say that people are unfriendly towards foreign residents (vs 18 percent globally), and 43 percent rate the general friendliness of the population negatively (vs 17 percent globally). 

An Australian immigrant told Internations they were unhappy with the seemingly “bad tempered locals”, while a survey respondent from the UK said they struggled to get along with the “conservative Austrians” in Vienna.

Unsurprisingly, more than half of the expats in Vienna (54 percent) find it challenging to make friends with the locals (vs 37 percent globally). Moreover, around one-third (32 percent) are unhappy with their social life (vs 26 percent globally), and 27 percent do not have a personal support system in Vienna (vs 24 percent globally). 

“I really dislike the grumpiness and the unfriendliness,” said an immigrant from Sweden.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

In the Quality of Life Index, Vienna snagged first place last year, but it reached only seventh place this year. In terms of administrative matters such as getting a visa for residence, Vienna is only 38th, and the federal capital also scores poorly for cashless payment options (42nd).

Where does Vienna shine?

The Austrian city ranked particularly well in categories including Travel and Transit (first place) and Health and Well-being (second place). International employees rated the availability, cost and quality of medical care as particularly good.

“I like how much you can do here and how easy it is to get around by public transport,” said an expat from the US. 

In addition, Vienna is not particularly expensive and ranks ninth worldwide in the personal finance index. 

READ ALSO: Five unwritten rules that explain how Austria works

Vienna ranks 26th out of 50 cities in the Working Abroad Index. Sixty-eight percent of expats rate their job as secure, and two-thirds rate their work-life balance positively – compared to 59 percent and 62 percent globally. However, 23 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their career opportunities, and a third feel that the corporate culture in Vienna lacks creativity and unconventional thinking.

In the “Expat Basics” index, international employees consider housing in Vienna particularly affordable (9th). In addition, eight out of ten find it easy to open a local bank account (vs 64 percent worldwide).