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What makes Vienna such a great place to live?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
What makes Vienna such a great place to live?
Pedestrians walk through Vienna city centre. Photo: Arno Senoner on Unsplash

Vienna has again been chosen as the world's ‘most liveable’ city - and now it is also the European Capital of Democracy. What makes the city so good?

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The Viennese are certainly having a good week: the Austrian capital has once again been elected as the world's most 'liveable' city by the Mercer ranking. It's also been named the European Capital of Democracy, a title it will hold for the next two years.

What makes Vienna such an excellent place to live, and what earned it the democracy title this year?

Multifactorial advantages

"In Europe, Vienna takes the top spot as the city with the highest quality of living, known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene", according to a Mercer press release.

The ranking also pays attention to the possibility of a good work-life balance - which Vienna, with numerous leisure offers and a strong social system, is famous for. People in Austria receive assistance when unemployed and are protected by solid work agreements, giving them minimum salaries and plenty of time off when they are in the labour market.  

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why are Austrians ‘Europe’s happiest’ people?

Mercer's Quality of Living research evaluates living conditions according to 39 factors, grouped into ten categories: political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, medical and health considerations, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, consumer goods, housing, and natural environment.

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This is not the only ranking to place Vienna on top this year, as the Economist Intelligence Unit also again had the Austrian capital topping its own Global Liveability Index.

Vienna had perfect EIU index scores in four of its five main indicators – stability, infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

Rathaus Park's is a go-to place every winter in Vienna. (Photo by Datingjungle on Unsplash)

The report noted this was due to Vienna’s low level of petty and violent crime, the availability of over-the-counter drugs, as well as the availability of both public and private options for healthcare and education. For infrastructure, the EIU rated Vienna as having a high-quality road network, public transport, good regional and international links, and good-quality housing.

READ ALSO: The essential articles to read if you are moving to Vienna

European Capital of Democracy

This week, the city has also been elected the "European Capital of Democracy 2024/25", a title that recognises exceptional efforts in fostering democracy, according to a press release.

Vienna will officially assume the title from the current ECoD, Barcelona, in late autumn 2024, with the trophy handover scheduled for the end of January in the Austrian capital.

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Vienna’s application centred on an expansive democratisation strategy to transform “the most livable city in the world” into the most democratic. This involves opening up administrative processes and integrating them with democratic innovations shaped by citizens’ needs and ideas, the city said. Efforts will include participatory initiatives like the “Children and Youth Million” and the “Vienna Climate Team,” which collaboratively develops measures to combat the climate crisis.

READ ALSO: Austria: Is Vienna really a 'renter's paradise'?

The city was shortlisted by an Expert'’ Jury consisting of internationally recognised people in the fields of science, civil society, art, and business. Members evaluate and assess the level of ambition, innovation, and creativity of democracy projects submitted by all applicant cities. Then, a jury of nearly 4,000 citizens from 47 countries of the Council of Europe decided to favour the Austrian capital.

“It is a wonderful honour for Vienna to be named the European Capital of Democracy 2024/25. I am proud that we were able to convince the jury of European citizens with our ideas for advancing democracy. Over the next two years, Vienna will showcase innovative projects demonstrating how social cohesion can be further strengthened through the participation of citizens,” highlighted Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig.

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