In a ranking of 140 cities around the world, Melbourne was given a score of 97.5 per cent. Other Australian cities in the top 10 include Sydney, which ranked sixth best - up from seventh in the previous survey - while Perth and Adelaide ranked unchanged with a joint eighth slot. Brisbane lagged other Australian cities with a ranking of 21st, behind cities such as Toronto (4th), Helsinki (7th), Paris (16th) and Tokyo (18th).
"Australia, with a low population density and relatively low crime rates, continues to supply some of the world's most liveable cities," said Jon Copestake, editor for the EIU survey.
Vancouver's score slipped to third after a lower rating for infrastructure, placing it below Vienna in Austria. It's the first time since 2002 that the Canadian city hasn't occupied or shared the top slot for liveability.
It seems residents have to pay for what they get, though, with another recent EIU report ranking Sydney as the sixth-most expensive city in the world, with Melbourne coming at No. 7. The survey assessed the cost of living in both cities to be about 40 per cent higher than in New York, mostly because of steep housing costs in Australia.
Residents of Perth boasted the strongest purchasing power in Australia, aided by the fattest pay packets in the land. Even so, the cost of living in Perth and Brisbane - the 13th and 14th most-expensive locations - came in at about 25 per cent higher than New York.
On the skids
Not surprisingly, the debt-ridden eurozone countries ranked poorly in the EIU liveability rankings. Greece's capital Athens dropped from 62 to 67th. That ranking put it below Uruguay's capital Montevideo. Similarly, the sliding liveability across much of the Middle East with its so-called Arab Spring-inspired civil unrest will come as little surprise. The Libyan capital Tripoli, which has fallen under the control of rebel fighters in recent days, dived to 135th - and presumably would be even lower if the EIU conducted the survey now. Perhaps more jarring will be the relatively low-rankings given for cities well-known to Australian travellers.
Hong Kong was ranked at 31st, San Francisco came in at 51st, as did Singapore, with both narrowly pipping London at 53rd and New York at 56th. Elsewhere in the Asian region, the giant Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai came in at 72nd and 79th, respectively, while India's commercial hub of Mumbai languished at 116th, just above Jakarta, Indonesia, at 119th.
The worst places to live among the 140 locations surveyed by EIU were Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh's Dhaka and Zimbabwe's Harare. In a statement accompanying today's release, the EIU said the survey's original brief had been to supply guidelines to human resources departments worldwide as to when to grant hardship allowances as part of expatriate relocation packages.
“It has since evolved as a broad benchmarking tool used by city councils, organisations or corporate entities looking to test locations against one another,” it said in a statement.
Cities are scored on political and social stability, crime rates and access to quality health care. It also measures the diversity and standard of cultural events and the natural environment; education (school and university); and the standard of infrastructure, including public transport.
According to the EIU, every city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.
The scores range from 1 to 100, where 1 is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal. To provide points of reference, the score is also given for each category relative to New York and an overall position in the ranking of 140 cities is provided.
Source: The Age