The study comes from consulting company Mercer, which for the second time has evaluated the local living conditions in 420 cities around the world.
Vienna in Austria is again the city with the best quality of life, says the survey, but Swiss cities are also well positioned. Runner-up Zurich offers the highest quality of life of any Swiss city, followed by Geneva and Bern which rank 8th and 9th respectively.
European cities dominate the rankings, representing more than half the cities in the top 25.
At the bottom of the list are cities marked by “civil agitation, high levels of criminality and a low enforcement of law,” said survey chief Slagin Parakatil in a statement.
Quality of life is worst in Baghdad, the survey says, with conditions little better in Khartoum in Sudan, Port-au-Prince in Haiti, N’Djamena in Chad, Bangui in the Central African Republic.
When deciding on a classification, Mercer analyses living conditions based on 39 factors, grouped into 10 categories: political and social environment; schools and education; health and sanitation; economic environment; housing; socio-cultural environment; consumer goods; public services and transportation; natural environment; and recreation. The scores attributed to each factor allow for city-to-city comparisons.
For the first time, Mercer has also compiled a Personal Safety Ranking 2011, with Bern ranked second after Luxembourg. The survey looks into measures of internal stability, crime levels, law enforcement effectiveness and host country international relations.
Taking into account these factors, Zurich ranks 4th and Geneva 6th.