Is the grass really greener on the other side? If you’ve ever looked around your city or home and thought that packing up and moving somewhere else would be an exciting adventure or a much needed change, then you are definitely not alone. While people often say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, there are a few cities in the world where it seems like everything is truly better – where the people are always happy, jobs are plentiful and life is good.
So what exactly makes a city a better place to live over another? Is it the weather, the job opportunities, the real estate prices, crime rates or the landscape? When it comes time to declare the best places in the world to live, it’s a combination of all of those factors and more – everything from a city’s history and size to its educational system, infrastructure and even cuisine.
If you’re itching to move to greener pastures or looking for a new adventure, then this list just might inspire you to pack up and leave town. Picking 10 cities from 10 different countries, we found some of the most beautiful landscapes, vibrant cultures and bustling economies that have put the welcome mat out just for us! Join us as we travel around the globe to visit 10 of the best places in the world to live!
#10 – Stockholm, Sweden
Who doesn’t love a beautiful island town? Spread across 14 islands on the southeast coast of Sweden is the stunning Nordic town of Stockholm, which proudly stands as the cultural, political and economic center for Sweden’s nearly 10 million residents. With just over 920,000 people in the city itself and another 3.6 million spread throughout the urban and metropolitan areas, it’s undeniable that Stockholm is attractive for people looking for a high quality of life, impressive environmental standards, and a city that boasts everything from top-ranking universities and museums to global influence and power.
When it comes to green space, it doesn’t get much better than Stockholm. Presented with the European Green Capital Award in 2010, Stockholm is covered in green space like parks and hiking trails that add to the quality of life and luxury of the capital city. There’s more to Stockholm than its greenery, however, as job growth has skyrocketed and made the city a destination for young professionals around the world. Add in the stunning scenery and island-culture and it’s no surprise why the city is one of the fastest growing in Europe!
#9 – Madison, Wisconsin
The first and only stop in the United States on our list takes us to America’s Dairy Land and the capital city of The Badger State – Madison, Wisconsin. Named after the fourth President of the United States, the town spreads across 94 square miles and is one of the smallest places on our list with a population of just over 240,000 people. Madison residents are in on a huge secret, however, as their hometown has been named the best place to live in the United States by Money magazine and as the number one college sports town by Sports Illustrated.
What makes Madison such a great place to live? Above all else, Madison is known as a college town and the home of the University of Wisconsin which has played a significant role in growing the local economy and workforce. Outside of the college, the town is a hub of culture and entertainment with sub-zero temperatures in the winter allowing for ice fishing and snow-skiing with beautiful summers filled with sailing, hiking and festivals. Madison also offers peace of mind to its citizens after having been named the “Least Armed and Dangerous” city in the United States giving new meaning to a real American heartland.
#8 – Tokyo, Japan
Holding the record as the most populated metropolitan area in the world and also number eight on our list is the capital and largest city of Japan – Tokyo. With a population exceeding 13 million in its metropolis and a density of 16,000 people per square mile, Tokyo is known for more than just its jam-packed population after having earned titles such as “Most Livable,” “Safest,” “Best Student Experience” and “11th Most Expensive” in the entire world.
As home to 51 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in addition to dozens of television networks, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and a variety of other businesses, Tokyo is considered one of three command centers in the world economy alongside New York City and London. In addition to the bustling economy, Tokyo residents enjoy a culture that is rich in tradition thanks to museums, festivals, shopping, parks and international cuisine throughout the sprawling city. And, in 2020, things will only get better for the vibrant town as they host the Summer Olympic Games for the second time in Olympic history. Let the games begin!
#7 – San Sebastian, Spain
Location, location, location! If location really is everything when it comes to real estate, then San Sebastian, Spain is one of the best places in the world. Nestled on the coast of the Bay of Biscay near the border of France, the quaint town of San Sebastian stretches across 23.51 square miles and is home to over 186,000 residents who can’t help but love living in one of the most famous tourist destinations in all of Spain.
Holding the title with Wroclaw, Poland as the 2016 European Capital of Culture, San Sebastian is one of the most culturally vibrant cities on our list with music, theater and cinema festivals year round thanks to its mild climate and gorgeous geography. Also at the heart of the town is its cuisine that features what San Sebastian natives refer to as the Top 20 restaurants in the world. Though the economy itself may not be as prosperous as that of Tokyo, the views of the city make everything else seem like an afterthought in this gorgeous Spanish town.
#6 – Berlin, Germany
Recognized as a world hub of politics, culture, media and science, the capital city of Berlin, Germany takes the sixth spot on the list as one of the best places to live not only in Europe but in the entire world. Despite being shaken after the second World War, Berlin has quickly rebuilt and reestablished itself as a vibrant world class city and tourist destination that is home to 3.5 million people who enjoy the city’s widespread diversity, growing prosperity, rich culture and stunning landscape filled with luscious forests, parks and gardens.
Once divided by the Berlin Wall from 1961 until 1989, Berlin’s nearly 335 square miles are united once again and feature one of the most advanced public transportation networks in the world that interconnect the city. Additionally, Berlin offers its residents every amenity and opportunity imaginable in the form of world-renowned universities, museums and entertainment. Even Berlin’s economy is something to be envious of as it is filled with hundreds of flourishing high-tech firms, creative industries, engineering and scientific fields, media corporations and more that make Berlin a hot spot for professionals in nearly every profession!
#5 – Auckland, New Zealand
Though New Zealand is a small island country, it more than makes up for its small size by boasting some of the best cities in the world such as the stunning North Island town of Auckland. The largest and most populated city in New Zealand, Auckland has a population of just over 1.5 million with a low density of over 6,700 per square mile. Less crowded than many of the other cities we’ve seen so far, Auckland is undeniably near the top of the list in terms of the most livable cities in the world and there are plenty of reasons why!
With a subtropical climate featuring warm summers and mild winters, Auckland is one of the prime locations for sailing and has earned the nickname as the “City of Sails” as one in every three Auckland residents own a boat! Though housing prices continue to climb as well as growing problems with public transportation and crime rates, Auckland has an impressive educational system, a steady economy and a proactive approach to ensure their future as one of the most livable and affordable cities in the world.
#4 – Vancouver, Canada
While many Americans joke about moving to Canada depending on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, moving to Canada is no joking matter especially when it comes to the gorgeous coastal town of Vancouver. Ranked as the eighth largest city in Canada with a population of over 603,000 people and a density of 13,600 per square mile, Vancouver is one of the most diverse cities in terms of language and ethnicity that make it Canada’s very own melting pot of culture where everyone is welcome.
Consistently ranked among the top five cities in the world as the most livable and for having the highest quality of life, Vancouver also has a strong educational system, outstanding healthcare program and a simple infrastructure that connects the city. Over the last few decades, Vancouver has seen an influx of film production studios that have revitalized the economy and earned it the nickname as “Hollywood North.” Add in the fact that Vancouver is an urban hub surrounded by stunning views of land and water and it’s no wonder why people from around the world flock to the city and never leave.
#3 – Sydney, Australia
Traveling to the Land Down Under, Australia has dozens of contenders but the New South Wales state capital of Sydney takes the prize as third on our list. Recognized as the world’s largest natural harbor, Sydney has a population of nearly five million residents with a density of only 980 “Sydneysiders” per square mile. The culture is among the most diverse in the world as nearly one third of residents come from other countries with an estimate of over 250 languages spoken within its nearly 5,000 square miles.
Thanks to the beautiful climate, gorgeous landscape and attractions like the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens, tourism is obviously one of the biggest contributors to the economy as millions visit the capital city each year. Outside of tourism, finance and manufacturing contribute to Sydney’s outstanding and diverse job market with a large concentration of foreign banks and multinational companies that have made Sydney into a leading financial hub. With beautiful beaches, a laid-back lifestyle, a bustling economy and outstanding health and education systems, it doesn’t get much better than Sydney!
#2 – Zurich, Switzerland
When it comes to Switzerland, natural beauty is a given perk especially in Zurich, the country’s largest city and capital. Extending across nearly 34 square miles in the north-central region, Zurich has a relatively small population of just over 400,000 residents at a density of 12,000 per square mile that helps make the city a perfect place to call home. In fact, global surveys agree after ranking Zurich as the “Best City to Make a Home” as well as the “Wealthiest City in Europe,” Best Quality of Life” and one of the “Most Livable Cities in the World.”
What makes Zurich so special then? Known for its outstanding infrastructure, Zurich is a transportation hub with the busiest airport and railway station in the country. It’s also among the largest financial centers in the world with dozens of financial institutions and banking giants as well as international companies lured by the country’s low tax rates. Along with the bustling economy, everything from Zurich’s rich culture and traditional cuisine to its educational system and entertainment venues help make this city a solid choice for number two on our list!
#1 – Vienna, Austria
We end our list with one of the most unique cities in the world and the largest in all of Austria, the exquisite Vienna. Known as both the City of Music and the City of Dreams thanks to its musical legacy and as the birthplace of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Vienna is ranked as the seventh largest city in Europe with a population of 1.8 million in its primary area in addition to nearly 2.6 million in its metropolitan center of culture and politics.
Home to architecture from the Medieval and Baroque eras to modern design, Vienna has a high-end culture that is filled with opportunity and plenty of attractions. Welcoming nearly seven million tourists each year with hundreds of international conferences, balls and events, Vienna’s economy is also rooted in research and development as well as information technology with industry leaders like Johnson & Johnson, Samsung and IBM who employ thousands. Vienna’s progressive and innovative culture as well as its commitment to excellence make it a clear frontrunner as one the best places in the world to call home.