Young Women In Vienna Tell Us Why It's Been Voted The Best Place To Live

photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
The 2018 Mercer Quality of Life Index, one of the most comprehensive annual lists of its kind, has ranked 17 U.S. cities in its top 100 – but none make it anywhere near the top.
San Francisco comes in 30th place on the 231-strong list, followed by Boston (35th), Honolulu (36th), and Seattle (44th). All of which suggests the U.S. should probably look towards its international counterparts for lifestyle tips.
The ranking rates cities based on various factors contributing to quality of life, from the political, social and economic environment to housing, recreational opportunities and the natural environment. Based on this, the city to which we should all be flocking in 2018 is Vienna, thanks largely to its thriving arts scene, top quality restaurants and excellent healthcare. In all, the top 10 is dominated by Europe.
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2018 marks the ninth consecutive year that Vienna has bagged the top spot, but does the reality of living there measure up to the hype? Olivia, 27, a communications specialist who left London for Vienna two years ago, told Refinery29 she wasn't surprised by the city's victorious place on the list.
"The city contains lots of elements that make for comfortable living, including fantastic social housing and rent restrictions that put tenants first. My boyfriend and I live in a flat with what is essentially a permanent contract, so the rent can never increase more than in line with inflation and we can never be kicked out. Even if we had a child in the flat, they could inherit our rental agreement from us and pay the rent that we pay now, plus inflation, for the rest of their lives too.
"The summers are lovely and warm, too, meaning you can swim at the Alte Donau (Old Danube) and spend long evenings drinking wine in the vineyards around the city, known as Heurigers (Eastern Austrian taverns)."
However, she pointed out the city is far from a utopia. "This ranking doesn't take into account issues like racism, which, considering a far-right government was last year voted in in Austria, I think would prevent Vienna from being listed top, if issues to do with social justice and political activism were considered."
Carly Hulls, 32, head of sales for travel website TourRadar who also blogs about Vienna, is from Melbourne originally and moved to the city in 2012 to be with her Austrian husband. She described Vienna's pole position as well earned based on its design, public transport, services, festivals and events for locals and the "exceptional lifestyle that everyone, not just the rich, can enjoy here."
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But its best traits, she told Refinery29, are "its pace of life, which is much slower without becoming ineffectual, the wineries and affordable excellent dining options, the proximity to other travel destinations, the architecture and the creative energy of the city."
"We have a large student community and a lot of startups and hipster districts filled with indie stores, popup cafes and thriving events which means it's always interesting to spend a weekend exploring with a camera in hand, or hopping from brunch hotspots to picnics by the riverside, to rooftop bars and enjoying the scenery along the way. There's also a lot of upcoming new coffee shops (besides the classical ones) that roast their own beans and are winning awards all over the place."

The 20 cities with the best quality of life in the world

(Duplicate numbers signals a joint score in the ranking)
1. Vienna, Austria
2. Zürich, Switzerland
3. Auckland, New Zealand
3. Munich, Germany
5. Vancouver, Canada
6. Düsseldorf, Germany
7. Frankfurt, Germany
8. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
10. Basel, Switzerland
10. Sydney, Australia
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands
13. Berlin, Germany
14. Bern, Switzerland
15. Wellington, New Zealand
16. Melbourne, Australia
16. Toronto, Canada
18. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
19. Ottawa, Canada
19. Hamburg, Germany
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