2012 City Surveys: Monocle and Mercer

Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2012

Consulting agency Mercer recently released its annual Cost of Living Survey. Focused on the cost of living for expatriates, the survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. The cost of housing is also included and, as it is often the biggest expense for expatriates, it plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. Mercer’s cost-of-living survey is the world’s most comprehensive and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Principal at Mercer, is responsible for compiling the ranking each year. She commented: “When compared to New York, our benchmark city, most European cities have witnessed a decline in cost of living. Some exceptions exist where accommodation prices have increased or additional VAT taxes have pushed the cost of living up. In North America, most cities have gone up in the ranking, as the US dollar has strengthened against a large proportion of the world’s other currencies. In Asia, more than six in ten cities moved up in the rankings, including all surveyed cities in Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand. Cities in Australia and New Zealand witnessed some of the biggest jumps, as their currencies strengthened significantly against the US dollar.”

View Mercer’s full survey here

Monocle 2012 Quality of Life Survey

In a wider field, Monocle too recently released its 2012 Quality of Life survey. The survey considers a host of economic and social factors, including things like “24 hour metabolism”, where cities were given extra points for not shutting down at 10 PM. Other factors involved in Monocle’s ranking system included whether the cities had well-tended bars, the amount of green space in cities, how the city used architectural planning and urban ambitions.

“Great cities adapt and change like their residents. The process of finding a favourite has been a global undertaking that confirmed and renewed our love of exciting urban centres. Here is our annual ranking of the best cities to make a base within – who’s up, who’s down and who’s new?”

Quality of life, and in fact any ranking of cities can be considered controversial, but the Monocle top 25 seems to be striking more of a balance. With a subjective term like “Quality of Life” being used, one has to consider the precise ranking of each city with a grain of salt, but it is useful to have a look into which cities (and in fact continents) are making good and bold decisions which improve the quality of life for their citizens.

View Monocle’s top 25 here