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Sydney and Melbourne outranks Paris

Melbourne has not only overtaken Sydney on the list of the world’s top 20 most liveable cities, but leap-frogged Paris into the top 10 in the quality-of-life stakes.

Compiled by the uber chic design and lifestyle magazine, Monocle, the rankings will be published on June 19, crowning Copenhagen as the world’s number one city. Munich, the winner last year, dropped down to number two while London – financial and cultural behemoth of Europe, did not even squeak it into the best 20 list.

The list defines Tokyo as the third best city in the world with the Nordic capitals of Stockholm and Helsinki joining the top ten. Berlin took out the cultural capital prize while Paris’s pioneering Mayor, Bertrand Delanoe – and new innovations like the bike hire scheme and the ‘Nuits Blanches’ when museums stay open all night – have reinvigorated the city to win the Best Global city.

For Sydney, disappoinment: the Emerald City dropped from number 7 on the list to number 11 while Melbourne’s rankings climbed from number 11 to number 9.

Melbourne, says the magazine, is vibrant, art loving, booming – and sprawling: “Melbourne’s economy is humming, its arts scene is thriving, and more than 1000 new people a week are calling the city home.”


Sydney however, might have everything going for it, “amazing views, an outdoor lifestyle, beaches on your doorstep and restaurants in abundance. . .life is good unless you happen to live there. . .

“Residents suffer public transport that barely works, clogged roads and outrageous property prices.”

The magazine’s reviewers say that Melbourne needs to pull up its socks in the public transport stakes, has a problem with alcohol related violence and needs a city to airport city rail link while Sydney’s promised north west rail link and redevelopment of the eastern side of the harbour are to be welcomed. Things are going to improve in Sydney but, say the reviewers, the city “seems to have realised that good looks aren’t always enough”.

The list was launched last year by the founder of Wallpaper magazine, Tyler Brule and not only ranks liveability on traditional measures such as the cost of schooling and housing but attempts to define the attributes that make truly great global cities – from the quality and beauty of architecture to the efficiency of bureaucracy, the ease of establishing new businesses to usable public transport and even the ability to buy a glass of wine or a meal late at night.

Brule says that as the planet becomes an increasingly urbanised place, the delivery of life improving essentials are becoming more and more important: “Radical environmental initiatives that pull cars off streets can do wonders – but can also kill off passing trade, he said.

“New developments to attract investment can not only boost local fortunes but drive out all those people that make the city interesting in the first place.”

Copenhagen’s win was based on the city’s “good looks, perfect proportions and sunny disposition”, a firm grasp on environmental issues and a great food culture. It also won for Best Design City not only for its vibrant and continuing innovation in architecture and contemporary design but for its investment in transport, housing and quality of life.

The full Monocle list

1. Copenhagen

2. Munich

3. Tokyo

4. Zurich

5. Helsinki

6. Vienna

7. Stockholm

8. Vancouver

9. Melbourne

10. Paris

11. Sydney

12. Honolulu

13. Madrid

14. Berlin

15. Barcelona

16. Montreal

17. Fukuoka

18. Amsterdam

19. Minneapolis

20. Kyoto


  • Paola Totaro | June 12, 2008 | The Age 

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