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Calgary Dethrones Vancouver and Toronto as Canada’s Most Livable City in 2018

Calgary Dethrones Vancouver and Toronto as Canada’s Most Livable City in 2018
4 min. read

What makes a city an awesome place to live? This year, Calgary holds the answer.

Canada is one of only two countries to boast three of the world’s ten most livable cities. However, these three, which have made the Economist’s top ten together for more than a decade, are suddenly shifting position. Seven years in a row, up until 2010, Vancouver topped the global ranking for the best cities in the world and was considered a role model in terms of sustainable infrastructure, great education, and amazing business opportunities.

Now, however, times are a-changin’: some cities are not only catching up, but actually taking over, in a race that appears to be tighter than ever. This year, the top ten most livable cities in the world have such similar scores, that the poor soul who would like to make a moving decision based on the Economist’s numbers will have a very tough time.

Check out this year’s most livable cities:

1 Vienna, Austria 99.1 points
2 Melbourne, Australia 98.4 points
3 Osaka, Japan 97.7 points
4 Calgary, Canada 97.5 points
5 Sydney, Australia 97.4 points
6 Vancouver, Canada 97.3 points
7 Toronto, Canada 97.2 points
7 Tokyo, Japan 97.2 points
9 Copenhagen, Denmark 96.8 points
10 Adelaide, Australia 96.6 points

Calgary Is 4th Best City in the World

Livability Score: 97.5

Coming in at number four, Calgary scores the maximum number of points in four categories: stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Alberta’s most populous city surpassed both Vancouver and Toronto in the top 10, having climbed one position since last year and having earned one extra point since 2017. The city’s rapid growth, owing massively to the province being the epicenter of Canada’s oil industry, has turned it into one of the world’s most desirable cities.

2018 marks a full decade since Calgary first entered the Economist’s Top 10 and the city shows no sign of stopping: this urban hub puts a lot of effort into constantly upping its economic game, pushing for development in the tech sector to complement its investment in infrastructure, high-quality education and healthcare. And, of course, the fact that Stampede City is also the sunniest metropolis in Canada doesn’t hurt either.

Vancouver Slips to the 6th Place

Livability Score: 97.3

Vancouver ranked first for seven straight years, between 2004 and 2010, but these days it seems the metropolis is slowly losing its footing in favour of other urban hubs.

After falling to the third position in 2015, this year marks a new low for British Columbia’s bustling coastal city, as Vancouver currently occupies the sixth position in the Economist’s Global Livability Index.

Vancouver managed to keep its score intact compared to 2017, but that didn’t help much. Other cities made more significant progress in the past year, leapfrogging Vancouver’s score and pushing BC’s most populous city lower in the rankings. And this is only the most recent blow to the city’s pride, after being ranked only the 88th best city in Canada by MoneySense.

Toronto Continues in Hot Pursuit

Livability Score: 97.2

Toronto came in one spot behind Vancouver, just like last year. The difference in score between the two cities is negligible, but they both fell in the rankings: Vancouver from third to sixth and Toronto from fourth to seventh in 2018.

The more significant difference between the two cities is in the ‘stability’ category, where Toronto scored full points (100), whereas Vancouver was granted only 95.


Who Is Canada’s Competition in 2018?

It looks like this year brings many interesting changes, and not just in Canada. Not only was Melbourne outranked by Vienna, which became the most livable city in the world in 2018, but New Zealand exited the top 10 completely, as did two long-running European cities: Helsinki, Finland and Hamburg, Germany.

Tokyo, coming right after Toronto, has the same final score, tying Ontario’s capital as the seventh most livable city in the world. But Japan’s amazing port city Osaka is the city that really stands out, having climbed no fewer than six positions in under six months, all the way to the podium.

Last year’s report stated that “the cities that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries, with a relatively low population density”, as they can “foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure”.

This explains, at least partly, why lower-density cities like Calgary, along with Vienna or Copenhagen, are more successful than bigger urban hubs such as New York, Paris, or Singapore. Larger populations in cities is an extremely taxing phenomenon, leading to more challenging infrastructure and environment issues.


How is the livability index calculated: The Economist Intelligence Unit analyzes variables such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and stability to rank 140 cities for their urban quality of life according to indicators that mark the level of development in each of these urban centres.

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