German cities plummet down Global Liveability Index for 2023

German cities plummet down Global Liveability Index for 2023

A study by the Intelligence Unit at The Economist has named Vienna as the best place to live on the planet. By contrast, it was a bad year for Germany, with all but one German city falling in the annual ranking.

The Economist's Global Liveability Index 2023

The Economist's Global Liveability Index for 2023 is based on data analysed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The unit considers 173 international cities in its study to find out where city dwellers have it best. Factors analysed by the study include:

Every city analysed was given a score out of 100 for each category. Individual categories were also given a specific weighting, with Stability and Culture & Environment being valued the most, followed by Healthcare, Infrastructure and Education. This then feeds into an overall score out of 100 - according to the EIU, a score of 80 or above is given to a city where “there are few, if any, challenges to living standards.” 

Vienna awarded top spot for liveability

According to Upasana Dutt of the EIU, in 2023 average liveability scores worldwide have reached a 15-year high.“The removal of COVID-related restrictions has overall boded well for global liveability in 2023,” Dutt explained. Global average scores increased in all categories with the exception of stability, which declined slightly.

Like last year, the so-called “city of dreams”, Vienna, took the top spot in the ranking for 2023. The Austrian capital was praised for its reliable public transport, stand-out education and healthcare facilities and its wide selection of cultural activities and entertainment options.

One integral factor which likely contributes to Vienna's liveability is the prevalence of affordable housing in the capital. Over 60 percent of the Viennese live in state-subsidised social housing and almost half of the city's housing market is made up of flats owned by the city or used as cooperatives.

Copenhagen, Denmark and Melbourne, Australia rounded out the podium places. Canadian cities took three of the top 10 spots, with the only other European cities in the top 10 being Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland.

At the other end of the ranking, like last year the Syrian capital Damascus was ranked worst for liveability, followed by Tripoli, Libya and the Algerian capital Algiers. As a consequence of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv made its first appearance in the bottom 10.

Frankfurt loses its spot in the top 10 most liveable cities

The Economist's 2023 ranking didn't offer such a glowing review of most German cities. Once in seventh place glory, Frankfurt found itself relegated to 17th, sharing a spot with Berlin. Munich fell from 18th to 21st, Hamburg from 16th to 22nd and Düsseldorf from spot 22 to 29. All alone was the star of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, which was the only German city to move up in the ranking, shooting up 13 spots to place 25th.

The reason given for Stuttgart's rise in the ranks? That the southern city was early to abandon certain coronavirus measures.

Living standards fall in many European cities

German cities' slump in the ranking reflected an overall trend seen across Europe, where real wages have seen little increase in recent years and inflation has hit hard.

Many European cities, especially those in Scotland and Sweden have plummeted down the order - Edinburgh and Stockholm have seen their positions fall by 23 and 22 places respectively compared to last year.

When asked why European cities were ranked lower this year, the EIU noted that “none of these cities has seen a particularly sharp decline in their index scores, but they have failed to make the gains that many other cities - particularly those in Asia - have made in the past year.” This year, of the top 12 most liveable cities, four are in Europe, three are in Oceania, three are in North America and one is in Asia.

The EIU's most and least liveable cities in 2023

According to EIU, these 10 cities are the most liveable in the world in 2023:

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. Melbourne, Australia
  4. Sydney, Australia
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Zurich, Switzerland
  7. Geneva, Switzerland and Calgary, Canada
  8. Toronto, Canada
  9. Osaka, Japan and Auckland, New Zealand

These 10 cities are considered the least liveable in 2023:

  1. Damascus, Syria
  2. Tripoli, Libya
  3. Algiers, Algeria
  4. Lagos, Nigeria
  5. Karachi, Pakistan
  6. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  7. Dhaka, Bangladesh
  8. Harare, Zimbabwe
  9. Kyiv, Ukraine
  10. Douala, Cameroon

For more information about the study, please visit the EIU website.

This article originally appeared on IamExpat in Switzerland.

Thumb image credit: Zigres /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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