Honolulu No. 1 quality place to live
STORY SUMMARY »
Honolulu was the highest-ranked U.S. city in an annual quality-of-living survey conducted by Mercer, a New York consulting firm.
Due to its political and social stability, natural environment, and recreational options, Mercer scored Honolulu high on the list.
Compared to the rest of the world, Honolulu was No. 28, behind major European and Canadian cities, including Dublin, Ireland; Oslo, Norway; Montreal; Luxembourg; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Bern, Switzerland.
Zurich, Switzerland, topped the global list in the 2008 quality of living survey, while war-torn Baghdad bottomed out the list.
Honolulu was followed by cosmopolitan cities such as San Francisco, Boston and Chicago in the U.S. ranking.
Honolulu topped the U.S. ranking for the third consecutive time in the survey.
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While European cities dominated the top of the global list, Honolulu was the highest-ranked U.S. city in the annual "Worldwide Quality of Living Survey" this year conducted by Mercer,
a New York consulting firm.
Home, sweet, home
A list of the top U.S. and global cities based on quality of living
Top U.S. cities
1. Honolulu (28)
2. San Francisco (29)
3. Boston (37)
4. Chicago (44)
5. Washington, D.C. (44)
6. New York (49)
7. Seattle (50)
8. Los Angeles (59)
9. Cleveland (59)
10. Houston (62)
Top Global Cities
1. Zurich, Switzerland
2. Vienna, Austria
3. Geneva, Switzerland
4. Vancouver, Canada
5. Auckland, New Zealand
6. Dusseldorf, Germany
7. Munich, Germany
7. Frankfurt, Germany
9. Bern, Switzerland
10. Sydney, Australia
Honolulu, at No. 28, was the top U.S. city on the list for overall quality of living, followed by San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York.
Mercer's rankings are based on a survey of 215 cities across the globe during September and November 2007, and conducted in an effort to help companies evaluate international assignments for their employees.
Rebecca Powers, Mercer principal, said Honolulu's top ranking should come as no surprise.
Honolulu's top U.S. ranking has been consistent for the last three years, although it slipped from No. 27 in both 2006 and 2007 to No. 28 in 2008.
"Honolulu does tend to score a little better, and the natural environment helps," said Powers.
She said the studies were developed to assist companies evaluate compensation and whether their employees are going to experience some reduction in the quality of life in moving to another location.
Another Mercer study evaluates cost of living across global cities. Only two U.S. cities -- New York City and Los Angeles -- made the top 50 most expensive cities to live in globally in 2007. Honolulu was not among that group.
For the quality-of-life study, Mercer grouped a total of 39 key quality-of-life variables into the following categories: Political and social environment, economic environment, socio-cultural environment, health and sanitation, schools and education, public services and transportation, recreation, availability of consumer goods, housing and natural environment.
Powers said that the political and social environment -- which include political stability, crime and law enforcement -- accounted for about 25 percent of the factors weighed.
Zurich, Switzerland, sat at the top of worldwide cities in quality of life with a score of 108, while Baghdad bottomed out the list, with a score of 3.8.
Switzerland ranks particularly high in medical care, while much of western Europe and Canada scored well because of their reliable and clean public transportation systems.
Honolulu ranked particularly high in the recreation and natural environment categories. The recreation category includes variety of restaurants, theaters, sports and leisure activities. Natural environment includes climate and record of natural disasters.
Powers said most of western Europe, Canada and the U.S. actually fall pretty close together in quality of life, with only a few points difference between them.
Cities with the lowest quality of living were Ndjamena, Chad, at No. 211, followed by Khartoum, Sudan; Brazzaville, Congo; and Bangui, Central African Republic. The war-torn Baghdad came in last, at No. 215.
In the Asia Pacific, Auckland, New Zealand, got the top score for best quality of living, followed by Sydney, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; and Singapore. In the Americas category, Canadian cities actually dominated the rankings, with Vancouver in the top position at No. 4, followed by Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Among the lowest-ranked U.S. cities in the 2008 study were Atlanta at 67, along with Detroit, St. Louis, Miami and Houston.
Mercer also conducted a survey based on personal safety, and found Canadian cities topped that list. In the U.S., Honolulu also topped the list, at the same ranking as Chicago; Houston; Lexington, Ky.; San Francisco and Winston-Salem, N.C.
"Canadian cities rank higher than U.S. cities on personal safety because of a relatively low crime rate and a stable political environment," said Powers. "Traffic congestion and pollution may have reduced air quality, which may undercut the otherwise pleasant living standards in some U.S. cities."
The most dangerous cities, apart from Baghdad, include Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Karachi, Pakistan; and Nairobi, Kenya.