What city has world's best quality of life?

Story highlights

  • Austria's capital Vienna was rated the best city to live by Mercer
  • Eight out of the top 10 cities with highest quality of life are located in Europe
  • The worst city to live of the 221 surveyed around the globe is Baghdad, Iraq
  • The survey takes 39 factors, such as crime rates and medical care, into account

Vienna, famous for its hundreds of museums, 2000 parks and of course its roasted coffee, is the best place on the planet to live, according to Mercer's 2012 Quality of Living Index. This year's latest accolade makes Vienna number one in the world for the fourth year in a row.

The annual survey by the global human resources consulting firm points not just to Austria's qualities but to much of the region's virtues. Eight of the report's top 10 cities are in Europe. Zurich is the world's second most livable city while three German cities -- Munich, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt -- follow close behind.

"Overall, European cities continue to have high quality of living as a result of a combination of increased stability, rising living standards and advanced city infrastructures," said Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer. This is despite economic turmoil, political tension and high unemployment in some European countries.

Australian, New Zealand and Canadian metropolises round out the top ten list.

The world's top 30 cities of the Mercer 2012 index

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Zurich, Switzerland

3. Auckland, New Zealand

4. Munich, Germany

5. Vancouver, Canada

6. Düsseldorf, Germany

7. Frankfurt, Germany

8. Geneva, Switzerland

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Bern, Switzerland

10. (tie) Sydney, Australia

12. Amsterdam, Netherlands

13. Wellington, New Zealand

14. Ottawa, Canada

15. Toronto, Canada

16. Berlin, Germany

17. Hamburg, Germany

17. Melbourne, Australia

19. Luxembourg, Luxembourg

21. Perth, Australia

22. Brussels, Belgium

23. Montreal, Canada

24. Nuremberg, Germany

25. Singapore, Singapore

26. Canberra, Australia

27. Stuttgart, Germany

28. Honolulu, U.S.

29. Adelaide, Australia

29. (tie) Paris, France

29. (tie) San Francisco, U.S.

Mercer's survey results are based on an analysis of local living conditions comprising 39 factors in 10 categories. Political considerations include government stability and crime rates. Economic factors take into account banking services and currency exchange laws. Health considerations include access to medical care and pollution levels. Transport, housing and recreation are also taken into account.

City scores help multinational companies calculate compensation packages for the employees they dispatch overseas. A lower score often correlates into a better compensation package that includes hardship allowances, according to Mercer.

Countries with unstable governments or undergoing civil strife tend usually have lower scores. Eight African cities dominate the bottom ten in this year's survey.

"The ongoing turmoil in many countries across North Africa and the Middle East has led to serous security issues for locals and expatriates," says Mercer's Parakatil. "Companies need to be able to proactively implement mitigation plans, such as emergency repatriation, or adjust expatriate compensation packages accordingly."

Around the word and on a regional basis, the cities that score the lowest are the following:

64. Belfast, Northern Ireland (Western Europe)

71. Detroit, Michigan, (United States)

207. Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Asia-Pacific)

213. Tbilisi, Georgia (Eastern Europe)

219. Port-au-Prince, Haiti (North Americas)

This year's city with the worst quality of life?

Baghdad, Iraq at #221.

        CNN Business

      • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

        Why are Iraq oil markets stable?

        Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
      • A view of gloves and boots used by medical staff, drying in the sun, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. The viral haemorrhagic fever epidemic raging in Guinea is caused by several viruses which have similar symptoms -- the deadliest and most feared of which is Ebola. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

        Ebola's economic 'scare factor'

        The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
      • People enter a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 18, 2009. Las Vegas is the most populus city in the US state of Nevada and internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, fine dining and entertainment. Las Vegas which bills itself as the �Entertainment Capital of the World� is famous for the number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

        Casinos beat the banker

        Macau has overtaken Switzerland in the wealth stakes, being named the world's fourth richest territory by the World Bank.
      • spc marketplace middle east ata atmar a_00010015.jpg

        Bateel's new bakery venture

        Saudi Arabian Bateel brand is best known for its delectable dates but it now has more than a dozen cafes and a new bakery in the works.
      • Vantablack designed by Surrey NanoSystems absorbs 99.96% of all light. It however will not be the solution to the creating the world's ultimate slimming black dress! A dress made out of this material would render the curves and contours of the human body invisible and would leave the wearer looking like 'two dimensional cardboard cut-out.'

        Is this the real new black?

        A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material. It is so dark the human eye can't discern its shape and form.
      • Move over Siri, here comes Jibo

        Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
      • A picture taken on March 15, 2014 shows children playing at the sprawling desert Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan near the border with Syria which provides shelter to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. Syrian refugees in the seven-square-kilometre (2.8-square-mile) Zaatari camp in Jordan fear that President Bashar al-Assad's likely re-election this year will leave their dream of a return home as distant as ever. The brutal war in Syria between the regime and its foes shows no sign of abating and has killed at least 146,000 people since it erupted in mid-March 2011. And 2.5 million Syrians have fled abroad and another 6.5 million have been internally displaced. Jordan is home to more than 500,000 of the refugees.

        Jordan: Seeking calm in chaos

        Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
      • SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Queen Elizabeth II wears 3 D glasses to watch a display and pilot a JCB digger, during a visit to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research centre, on November 18, 2010 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by John Giles - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

        Forget 3D, it's 4K now

        At the last football World Cup, it was all about 3D. This time around, it's nothing less than 4K.
      • An Iraqi worker adjusts a control valve at the Daura oil refinery on November 5, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq and a grouping of U.S and European oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC signed a $50 billion contract today to develop the West Qurna oilfield, two days after the Iraqi South Oil Company signed a technical service contract with Britain's BP and China's CNPC to develop the Rumaila oilfield. The Iraqi government is trying to attract foreign investment, especially in the oil sector, in hopes of reviving its war-torn economy. Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world but it is producing way below its potential. (Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images)

        Where is Iraq's oil?

        Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
      • Valves of gas pipe-line are seen in the gas station not far from Kiev on March 4, 2014. The European Union will help Ukraine pay the $2.0 billion it owes to Russian gas giant Gazprom, a top official said Tuesday, as part of an aid package reportedly worth more than one billion euros. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREY SINITSIN (Photo credit should read ANDREY SINITSIN/AFP/Getty Images)

        Why Europe needs Russian gas

        The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.