Auckland and Wellington lose top spots as world's most livable cities, plummet in rankings - report

Auckland scored 89.2 and Wellington scored 85.7.
Auckland scored 89.2 and Wellington scored 85.7. Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand's reign of trump is over as Wellington and Auckland have nosedived in the latest world's most livable cities ranking survey.

The 2022 Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Global Liveability Index, released on Thursday, saw two of New Zealand's biggest cities receive massive drops in the rankings.

Wellington had the biggest drop in the rankings, going from four down to 50 while Auckland also plummeted down the rankings from one to 34.

The index ranks 172 global cities for their urban quality of life out of 100, based on an assessment of their education, healthcare, culture and environment, stability and infrastructure. 

European and Canadian cities dominated the top ten spots, largely due to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Vienna, the capital of Austria, reclaimed its customary position at the top of the EIU's Global Liveability Index, as in the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.

Copenhagen in Denmark took second place and Zurich in Switzerland came in third.

New Zealand was largely represented in the top spots in last year's ranking due to the closing of the borders at the height of COVID-19, which allowed the country to mostly continue as close to normal as possible compared to much of the world during the pandemic.

Now with COVID restrictions and high vaccination rates in much of the world, New Zealand, as well as Australia, saw a decline in the rankings, allowing well-vaccinated European and Canadian cities to dominate the top 10 again.

"The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected global liveability in 2021, but we have seen a marked improvement in most cities in this year's index with the reopening of shops, restaurants and museums," head of Liveability Index at EIU Upasana Dutt said in a statement. 

"Education has emerged stronger with children returning to schools alongside a significantly reduced burden on hospitals and healthcare systems. 

"This has allowed the fundamental attractions of cities such as Vienna to reemerge, making it the most liveable city again after 2018 and 2019 when it had topped the rankings."

The Russia-Ukraine war, which has entered its fourth month, has had an impact on the ratings and Kyiv had to be excluded from the survey.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine saw the rankings of cities in Russia and eastern Europe fall sharply. Moscow fell by 15 places, while St Petersburg fell by 13.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine has undermined stability. Eastern European cities have slipped in rankings amid increased geopolitical risks," Dutt said. 

"Our biggest concern now is the impact that the cost-of-living crisis, including the soaring prices of energy and food, will have on liveability, particularly on stability scores around the world. That may affect the recovery in next year's index."

There was little change in the bottom ten cities with living conditions remaining worst in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Top 10 cities:

  1. Vienna, Austria - 99.1
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark - 98.0
  3. Zurich, Switzerland - 96.3
  4. Calgary, Canada - 96.3
  5. Vancouver, Canada - 96.1
  6. Geneva, Switzerland - 95.9
  7. Frankfurt, Germany - 95.7
  8. Toronto, Canada - 95.4
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands - 95.3
  10. Osaka, Japan - 95 and Melbourne, Australia - 95

34). Auckland, New Zealand - 89.2

50). Wellington, New Zealand - 85.7