Munich, Copenhagen, Zürich, Tokyo . . . Yawn

Every summer since 2007, the editors of the self-consciously upscale magazine of “global affairs” Monocle have assembled a list of the world’s most livable cities—in their words, “urban settlements where human life can thrive because they are easy to navigate, diverse, pulsing and full of opportunities.” I generally find these kinds of best-of lists irresistible, and Monocle has always used an appealingly idiosyncratic set of metrics (including the number of cinema screens and outdoor seats; the quality of the local architecture; the average amount of annual sunshine; the robustness of public transit; and the government’s commitment to diversity, tolerance, and sustainability.) The problem is, their criteria keep turning up the same cities year after year. Not exactly the same ones–but close enough to make the so-called Quality of Life Issue increasingly predictable and even dull. Let’s take a look at the rankings for the last three years:
2008

1. Copenhagen
2. Munich
3. Tokyo
4. Zürich
5. Helsinki
6. Vienna
7. Stockholm
8. Vancouver
9. Melbourne
10. Paris
11. Sydney
12. Honolulu
13. Madrid
14. Berlin
15. Barcelona
16. Montreal
17. Fukuoka
18. Amsterdam
19. Minneapolis
20. Kyoto
21. Hamburg
22. Singapore
23. Geneva
24. Lisbon
25. Portland, Oregon2009

1. Zürich
2. Copenhagen        
3. Tokyo
4. Munich
5. Helsinki
6. Stockholm
7. Vienna
8. Paris
9. Melbourne
10. Berlin
11. Honolulu
12. Madrid
13. Sydney
14. Vancouver
15. Barcelona
16. Fukuoka
17. Oslo
18. Singapore
19. Montreal
20. Auckland
21. Amsterdam
22. Kyoto
23. Hamburg
24. Geneva
25. Lisbon
2010

1. Munich
2. Copenhagen
3. Zürich
4. Tokyo
5. Helsinki
6. Stockholm
7. Paris
8. Vienna
9. Melbourne
10. Madrid
11. Berlin
12. Sydney
13. Honolulu
14. Fukuoka
15. Geneva
16. Vancouver
17. Barcelona
18. Oslo
19. Montreal
20. Auckland
21. Singapore
22. Portland, Oregon
23. Kyoto
24. Hamburg
25. Lisbon
There you have it: Copenhagen is a very nice place to live. C’mon, Monocle! I admire your consistency, but, as we all know, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of best-of lists. Next year, how about some new criteria–like, say, affordability–or a wild card or two?

 
Previously: Monocle Writes Off American Cities, Again
 

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