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What Makes Canadian and Australian Cities More ‘Livable?’

Feb 25, 2011

The Economist‘s covert editorial department known as the ‘Intelligence Unit’ recently compiled a list of the world’s 140 most livable cities. The United States only makes a cameo appearance.

Vancouver  What Makes Canadian and Australian Cities More Livable?

What makes any city more or less ‘livable?’ It’s kind of a bullshit question, because it’s a completely subjective term.

Most families would consider a livable city to be one with affordable housing, good schools, little to no crime, clean accessible parks, and convenient access to public transportation and highways. Young professionals would prefer a fast-paced city where they can accomplish their lofty goals. College graduates are normally searching for a city free of consequences and full of loose morals. Single people with few friends need a city drinking establishments in close vicinity at all times to help them forget about how truly lonely they are. Homeless people prefer warmer weather.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit there were five basic categories that helped determine the livability of each city: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. After all the data was collected each city was graded on a scale of 1-100, the higher the better. Needless to say Egypt and Libya did not top this list, but the ones that did might surprise you. The Economist‘s full ‘assessment’ costs only $500, so needless to say I haven’t seen the entire list, but earlier this week the top ten were revealed to the media.

1. Vancouver, Canada
2. Melbourne, Australia
3. Vienna, Austria
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Calgary, Canada
6. Helsinki, Finland
7. Sydney, Australia
8. Perth, Australia
9. Adelaide, Australia
10. Auckland, New Zealand

Notice any common trend here?

None of these cities celebrate the 4th of July. Three of the top ten cities are Canadian and four Australian — zero American. I’m sure all of these cities are quite lovely. After all, Australian’s accents are delightfully charming and Canadian’s politeness is refreshingly disarming, but honestly where are the stars and stripes?

Sure we don’t have universal healthcare or mounties, but guess what “Crocodile Dundee” was a lot more entertaining when Paul Hogan was in New York City, and that’s not subjective.

Where’s the land of opportunity? You know, the place where freedom reigns? Where’s the love country that gave the world reality television?

Well, you have to look all the way down at No. 29 to find the first American city — Pittsburgh, The City of Champions. Which is all the evidence someone needs to know this list is fixed, because no matter how many times my college roommate stated it, there is no way Pittsburgh in the most livable city in America.

Which leads me to believe that the term ‘livable’ sucks. No one wants to brag about residing in a ‘liviable’ city—it sounds mediocre, it conveys the impression that they’re settling. It sounds like a word used to describe a city they are disaffected by.

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