Why Vienna is still second to none
For 19 years now, the global consulting firm Mercer has been conducting its annual Quality of Living survey, which ranks cities according to overall quality of life and names the very best cities in which to live.
The results for 2017 are in, with 231 cities ranked. And – drum roll, please – for an impressive eighth year in a row, Vienna, Austria has emerged as number one in the world.
Vienna’s central location in Europe, along with good roads and an excellent and extensive rail system, means travel is easy and convenient, so the best that Europe has to offer is accessible and never too far away. By rail, Prague and Munich are just four hours away. Venice can be reached in less than ten. And you can catch the early morning train in Vienna and have your dinner in a Paris café that evening.
Not only that, but Vienna’s central location makes it an ideal city for companies that conduct business in Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 shifted the geo-economic center of Europe and opened up previously inaccessible places in the eastern part of the continent to profound commercial and business opportunities. Establishing a hub or headquarters in Vienna can be advantageous in many ways.
Beauty, Culture, History, Architecture
Millions of tourists filter through the streets of Vienna each year to take in its historic old world beauty.
To be sure, there is much to see, from simple structures dating from the Middle Ages to beautiful Baroque edifices to the opulent Hofburg Palace. Throw in The Belvedere complex, Schönbrunn Palace, and the grand museums and concert halls in MuseumsQuartier, and it’s easy to see why the entire city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vienna is one of the only cities in Europe that still holds carnival balls in these grand palaces – more than 400 per year – and the city’s residents are welcome to attend.
It is widely accepted that some of the world’s most popular cities can be marred by high crime levels, although Vienna seems to be an exception to this. According to Numbeo.com, the overall level of crime in Vienna is ranked as “very low”. Vienna’s overall crime rate is listed as 18.88 (on a scale of 100). That compares quite favorably to New York City (48.39), Paris (56.52), and Rome (57.09). The ranking for “Safety walking alone during night” is considered “high” at an impressive 77.02. Furthermore, the government of Austria – a democracy – is regarded as very stable, and there is little potential for war or civil unrest.
Lively and Fun
In spite of its undeniable opulence, history, and grandeur, Vienna is no stuffy Old World city. There are about 20 universities in Vienna – both public and private – and nearly 20,000 students study at these institutions. This constant influx of young people contributes to a lively, fun, “college-town” atmosphere. No doubt this adds to Vienna’s thriving nightlife scene, in which many clubs and music venues opening their doors on a nightly basis.
A 1,000sq ft apartment near the center of London can cost $2,500 a month, and a one-bedroom in Manhattan can easily be north of $4,000. But a comparable apartment in Vienna, in a charming turn-of-the-century building within a 20-minute walk from the city center, can be had for a mere $800 a month.
City of Music
Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, and Brahms all lived in Vienna, and the city’s rich musical heritage is palpable. The lilting melody of a Strauss waltz or the energetic violins of a Mozart symphony can often be heard during a leisurely stroll through the city center. And the State Opera House is one of the most lavish concert halls in all of Europe.
Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss und Brahms haben alle in Wien gelebt, und die reiche Musiktradition der Stadt ist spürbar. Die beschwingte Melodie eines Walzers von Strauss oder die schwungvollen Geigentöne von Mozarts Symphonie erklingen hier und da auf einem gemächlichen Spaziergang durch das Stadtzentrum. Und die Staatsoper ist eine der prunkvollsten Konzerthallen in ganz Europa.
Other contributing factors to Mercer’s Quality of Life survey are public utilities, infrastructure, public transportation, health care costs, traffic, airports, parks and recreation, GDP, secure banking, and overall satisfaction of the residents. In all of these areas, Vienna ranks high.
Freud affectionately referred to Vienna as “the city of dreams.” And it is still a place dripping with possibilities. Convenient travel and business opportunities, a rich history, art, music, beautiful architecture, a vibrant atmosphere, and reasonable cost of living make it easy to see why, after nearly ten years, Vienna is still Nummer Eins.