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The best place to live

The Global Liveability Index and The Monocle Quality of Life survey were published this summer. The bad news is that Copenhagen dropped down. The good news is that the city ranks second in both rankings. Here are the reasons.

Photograph: Visit Denmark

Text: Natália Šepitková

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported The Global Liveability Index 2023 in the summer, and Copenhagen ranked second. Vienna overtook her by a very narrow margin. The survey covers 173 cities worldwide, and it assesses which locations provide the best or worst living conditions across five categories – stability, healthcare, culture & environment, education and infrastructure. According to the survey, Copenhagen got the total score for stability (the lowest prevalence of petty crime and violent crime and the lowest threat of terror, military conflict and civil conflict), education and infrastructure (quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision, telecommunications and availability of good quality housing). Vienna had a higher score in healthcare but lower in culture & environment.

Ex-number one in Monocle

Copenhagen ranked better last year in Monocle's annual Quality of Live Survey. The previous year's winning city scored, especially with how quickly and without a fuss it recovered from the covid period. Copenhagen also achieved goals on a safety, welfare system and support for new parents. The significant impact had also Danish undertaken the move towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Indicators which dominated in Monocle's survey 2023 – the housing, health and security sectors – were put under severe pressure. "As well as security metrics such as violent crime per capita and trust in the police, we found that the rising cost of living had a greater bearing on the survey than ever before," Alexis Self explained for Monocle. "When deciding the top 20, we considered the year-on-year increase in the average rent of a one-bedroom apartment, as well as the price of basics such as energy and a cappuccino." Vienna displaced Copenhagen from the top of the rankings of Monocle this year. The Danish capital ended up in second place before Munich.

"Copenhagen was nominated as one of the most LGBT+ friendly destinations in the world by the British LGBT Awards in 2018."

Living in the best cities

Copenhagen and Vienna have something in common. Both are large and international capital cities that, despite being pulsating with life, also have a high level of safety and a low level of street crime. Barbora Kujundžić, who comes from Slovakia, has lived in Vienna with her Croatian husband and two children since 2018. She thinks the best benefit of living in the Austrian capital is the generous social city politics. "Various housing options, counselling, accessible and free healthcare for the insured, free public education with extra support for low-income households, even private kindergartens are relatively cheap considering support from the municipality," she enumerates the positives of life in Vienna. "Green politics is also prevalent here. There are many green areas, such as parks, playgrounds for children and forests. The public transport is very cheap, only 365 euro per year." Copenhagen is undoubtedly more expensive compared to Vienna. Still, Bulgarian Daniel Ivanov, who has lived in Denmark for nine years, 3 of them in the capital, says that the high standard of living and the salaries also match it. When I ask him why he thinks Copenhagen is one of the most liveable cities, he answers: "It's because of the Danish society – people are not corrupt, not judgmental and not as negative as in Eastern Europe, for example. This approach reflects in a good way all the things mentioned."

LGBTQI+ and city

Copenhagen was nominated as one of the most LGBT+-friendly destinations in the world by the British LGBT Awards in 2018. The initiators noted at the time that it's hard to find a distinct LGBTQ neighbourhood in Copenhagen – until you realise that Copenhagen is the LGBTQ neighbourhood of Scandinavia. Denmark was the first country to legalise same-sex unions in 1989 and the first country to de-pathologise trans people in 2017. Copenhageners are primarily relaxed and tolerant people, and the general attitude towards LGBTQI+ people is liberal and open-minded. Vienna also got many international awards as one of the best LGBTQI+ destinations. The capital of Austria has a vibrant LGBT community, and some estimates place their numbers at somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 in this city of 1.6 million. Feeling free and accepted regardless of sexual orientation is the best prerequisite for a happy life in the city. You will feel that way in Copenhagen and Vienna too.

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