There are good cities and there are great cities. I’m obviously biased but I can’t help thinking that Sydney ranks up there as one of the better ones.
Sydney is a naturally-beautiful gem with an unfair reputation for being shallow, a bit like the pretty girl at school. Yet, much like that pretty girl, she’s often misconstrued and incorrectly labelled – when you look a little closer, you quickly discover a city of striking sandstone architecture with a long and distinct history, diverse eateries and sophisticated nightspots, stretches of white golden sandy beaches to the north and south, and much, much more.
It’s a fun, vibrant city, bursting with colour and beauty, and a magnet to tourists and holidaymakers alike looking for a luxurious stay and a mix of big-brand hotels and unique vacation rentals in Sydney, often dotted around the harbour and close to the downtown core.
Liveability and life abroad
Every few months, one of the pre-eminent authorities on “best cities worldwide” produces another report outlining who they believe should take the top prize.
In its annual report, PriceWaterhouseCoopers is known to highlight Sydney’s superior natural and living environments, and air quality, which put it above and beyond most other comparable cities. Mercer’s Quality of Living index is another “go to” report, which takes into account a multitude of factors, including economic and political environment, infrastructure, public transport, health, recreation and housing, to figure out which cities are the most desirable to live in.
Based on the latest rankings, the article cites London’s lowly 40th position, not far from Birmingham and Glasgow tied for 53rd. Fortunately for me and my troop, it also lists Sydney as sitting pretty in 10th place, with my ‘other’ home, Vancouver, riding high at 5th on the list.
Vancouver is always at the business end of these rankings, somewhere in the top ten and often in the five best. It’s consistently ranked as Canada’s best city to live in and this British Columbian city is a western charm nestled at the foot of the Coastal Mountains and a true gateway to the Pacific North-West. Both it, and Sydney, win my vote every time.
Do rankings matter?
The question remains whether these rankings give us vindication for our major international upheavals to what is consistently acknowledged as two of the world’s top 10 ranked cities in the world? Or are they instead a sad indicator that my old haunt, London, just isn’t ‘cutting the mustard’ as a decent place to call home?
I always enjoy reading these rankings and take a perverse pleasure in citing them to friends and family, but I’m not convinced they paint a fair picture of a place.
London Town may not make the top 10, but it’s surely one of the world’s ‘great’ cities, bursting at the seams with history and culture, unrivalled arts, fashion and music scenes, and a trend-setting vibe that gave Cool Britannia its good name.
The top two cities, Vienna and Zurich, are beautiful cities, combining magnificent European architecture with wonderfully planned city spaces, but would I really want to pick up my things and move to dreary Dusseldorf in Germany (#6) or boring Basel in Switzerland (joint tenth alongside Sydney)? Probably not.
I guess I’m missing the point here.
The cities are based solely on liveability factors and these factors are the kinds of things that we value in a city. Things like low crime rates, political stability, good hospitals, clean air, and a decent climate.
The problem is that the ‘great’ cities like London lose out in a number of these key areas and when taken, for example, with the industrial cityscape of Birmingham or the relatively volatile Glaswegian environment, the UK simply doesn’t stack up in terms of safe, beautiful, liveable places to settle down in and call home.
The ‘wow’ factor
When we set off from the UK in 2003, we were consciously searching for the ‘wow’ factor and subconsciously searching for those things that make a city great to live in. And with Sydney, we got all that and more.
From whales migrating along the Northern Beaches in the Spring and Autumn to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, from sailing around Pittwater to enjoying the incredible festivals (Vivid, Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve), we were spoilt and continue to be so.
While the rankings don’t necessarily fairly represent the great cities of the world that we love to visit and spend time in – the Londons and New Yorks of the world – it does show that liveability matters, and cities like Vancouver and Sydney are among the most liveable, spectacular, and greatest places on earth.