Auckland is named the world's most liveable city for 2021

Auckland is named the world’s most liveable city for 2021 followed by Osaka and Adelaide (while London and New York fail to make the top 50)

  • Two of the top 10 most liveable cities are in New Zealand and four are in Australia
  • There are two Japanese cities in the top 10 and two that are in Switzerland 
  • The least liveable city in the world is Syrian capital Damascus – yet again  

Auckland is the most liveable city in the world for 2021, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed 140 cities across the globe and scored them on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure.

The Japanese city of Osaka is second followed by Adelaide, Australia, in third. Neither London nor New York makes the top 50, while the least liveable city is the Syrian capital Damascus for the ninth year in a row.

Auckland is the most liveable city in the world for 2021, according to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit 

The list has been compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as part of its Global Liveability Ranking for 2021.

According to the EIU, Auckland rose to the top of the ranking ‘owing to its successful approach in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed its society to remain open and the city to score strongly on a number of metrics, including education, culture and environment’.

In joint fourth place is another city in New Zealand, Wellington, and the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

Perth, Australia, is sixth followed by Zurich in seventh. The rest of the top 10 is made up of Geneva (joint eighth), Melbourne (joint eighth) and Brisbane (10th). Sydney, just missing out on the top 10, is 11th.

The highest-ranked city in the UK is Manchester in 54th, while London is ranked 60th.

The most highly-rated American city is Honolulu, which has risen 46 places this year to take 14th spot.

Claiming second place in the ranking is the Japanese city of Osaka, pictured 



1. Auckland, New Zealand

2. Osaka, Japan

3. Adelaide, Australia

4= Wellington, New Zealand

4= Tokyo, Japan

6. Perth, Australia

7. Zurich, Switzerland

8= Geneva, Switzerland

8= Melbourne, Australia

10. Brisbane, Australia


131. Caracas, Venezuela

132. Douala, Cameroon

133. Harare, Zimbabwe

134. Karachi, Pakistan

135. Tripoli, Libya

136. Algiers, Algeria

137. Dhaka, Bangladesh

138. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

139. Lagos, Nigeria

140. Damascus, Syria

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit 

The EIU says this is due to its ‘strong progress in containing the pandemic and rolling out its vaccination programme’.

Other US cities in the ranking are Atlanta (24th), Pittsburgh (25th), Houston (31st), Boston (34th), Minneapolis (36th), Seattle (40th), San Francisco (joint 43rd), Washington DC (joint 43rd), Cleveland (48th), Detroit (52nd), Los Angeles (55th), Lexington (56th) and New York (59th).

The cities deemed to be the least liveable, at the bottom of the table, are found in Africa, Asia and South America.

These are Caracas in Venezuela (131st), Douala in Cameroon (132nd), Harare in Zimbabwe (133rd), Karachi in Pakistan (134th), Tripoli in Libya (135th), Algiers in Algeria (136th), Dhaka in Bangladesh (137th), Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea(138th) and Lagos in Nigeria (139th).

The Australian city of Adelaide is third. There are four Australian cities in the top 10 

Wellington in New Zealand, pictured, shares fourth place with the Japanese capital, Tokyo 

Overall, the EIU says the Covid-19 pandemic caused liveability to decline in the past 12 months ‘as cities experienced lockdowns and significant strains on their healthcare systems’.

It adds: ‘This led to an unprecedented level of change in the rankings, with many of the cities that were previously ranked as the most liveable tumbling.

‘In particular, European and Canadian countries fared poorly in this year’s edition. Vienna, previously the world’s most liveable city, fell to the 12th position. While the biggest mover down overall was Hamburg, which fell 34 places to 47th.’

Upasana Dutt, head of global liveability at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global liveability.

‘Cities across the world are now much less liveable than they were before the pandemic began, and we’ve seen that regions such as Europe have been hit particularly hard.

The Syrian capital, Damascus, is ranked as the least liveable city in the world. This image was taken in 2009 before conflict erupted there 

‘The cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are largely the ones that have taken stringent measures to contain the pandemic.

‘New Zealand’s tough lockdown allowed their society to reopen and enabled citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle that looked similar to pre-pandemic life.

‘One area where there has been regrettably little change is at the bottom of our rankings.

‘Damascus remains the world’s least liveable city, as the effects of the civil war in Syria continue to take their toll. Indeed, most of the previous 10 least liveable cities remain in the bottom 10 this year.’ 

  • The EIU’s full report on liveability is available here:

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