What is the Meaning of Livability?
There are a few magazines publish of “the most livable cities” ranking almost every year, such as Monacle, The Economist, Forbes. If you read Mercer Survey, you will find interesting data about these cities. Data is important, but the question is how do to measure the immeasurable facts?
You can measure weather, crime data, cost of living, education, average income, etc. level, however people’s opinions or importance of these factor vary quite a lot. If you love driving having large highways can be an important factor for you, but if you prefer riding bicycle every day, and there is no bike paths in that city or if you hate rain, even the most livable top ranked rainy city will not impress you.
According to the Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey if you are reading this survey you will learn that European cities considered most livable cities. Vienna, Austria ranked No. 1 in the survey. Mercer’s Quality of Living index assesses 221 cities using New York City as the base for comparison. In this survey not one U.S. city reached the top 25. However Honolulu became number 28 and labeled the city most desirable city in the United States with the highest quality of living.
Mercer evaluates local living conditions in more than 460 cities it surveys worldwide. We analyze living conditions according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:
• Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement)
• Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services)
• Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom)
• Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.)
• Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools)
• Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.)
• Recreation (restaurants, theaters, movie theatres, sports and leisure, etc.)
• Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.)
• Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services)
• Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)
Even though it’s impossible to say what’s “best” for everyone, I have my own “city livability” index. I was born and lived in a city all my life. When I look at what is importlant for me in the city, I have a list to consider.
The weather: I like sunshine, I do not like rain, nor snow
The Internet Speed: I work online, my job depends on it, the city should have fast broadband!
International Airport: I like traveling. I need to travel every year, so having a good airport is important
Walking: I like walking. I prefer walking to grocery stores, taking photos around. Cities are not safe to walk, will be off limit (no sidewalks, too dangerous to walk in many American cities, everything design for cars, not for people)
Public Transportation: I like public transportation, buses, trains, street cars, I actually do not like driving, so if the city has good transportation system is a big plus!
Riding bicycle: I like riding my bicycle, if the city has no bicycle paths, or too steep to bicycle , I probably will not like it
Political environment: I am libertarian, I also like diversity. So conservative cities off limit
Water: I like having clean water to drink and if possible having a nice sea in the city. I have to admit it Portland has the best water in US.
Electronic Goods: No, I am not kidding. Mostly I buy computer parts, I absolutely love Fry’s. So does the city has good computer/camera stores?
Movie Theaters and Parks: I like watching movies and going parks to take photos. So a city without these unbearable.
Cafes, Coffee & Tea Houses: I like drinking tea. Nothing like having a good cup of tea by the water. Cities with good cafes are winners.
Libraries & Bookstores: I like reading. I love going library and book stores, the more book, the more I am happy.
According to Bloomberg Business Week’s America’s 50 Best Cities
In 2012 Portland, Oregon’s Rank was 5. Honolulu was ranked No. 3 on Businessweek.com’s list of the 50 best cities in the United States in 2011. However Mercer ranked #1 Honolulu in 2012.
Portland Population: 593,820 (2011)
Area: 145.4 sq miles (376.6 km²)
Time zone : PST (UTC−8)
Pro sports teams: 2
Park acres per 1,000 residents: 25
Percent with graduate degree: 11.8
Median household income: $65,554
Percent unemployed: 7.9
Honolulu Population: 374,658 (2009)
Area: 68.42 sq miles (177.2 km²)
Time zone : HAST (UTC−10)
Readers’ Choice Rating: 80.4