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Auckland rose to the top of the rankings owing to its successful approach in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eight cities in APAC snatched the top 10 seats of the most liveable cities in the world, with Auckland being crowned as this year's most liveable city, according to the EIU's Global Liveability Ranking Index.

Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic caused liveability to decline – as cities experienced lockdowns and significant strains on their healthcare system.

This led to many changes in the rankings, with many of the cities that were previously ranked as the most liveable tumbling. For example, Vienna, previously the world’s most liveable city, fell to the 12th position. 

“The cities that have risen to the top of the rankings this year are largely the ones that have taken stringent measures to contain the pandemic. The tough lockdown and tight border controls imposed by Asia-Pacific countries such as New Zealand and Australia allowed their societies to re-open earlier and enabled residents to enjoy a lifestyle that looked similar to pre-pandemic life,” said Upasana Dutt, Head of Global Liveability at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

With an average liveability score of 68.6, cities in Asia are generally still behind North America (83.4) and Europe (Western Europe: 83.6; Eastern Europe: 64.3). 

Auckland rose to the top of the ranking owing to its successful approach in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed schools, theatres, restaurants and other cultural attractions to remain open and the city to score strongly on a number of metrics including education, culture and environment.

Similarly, Wellington, New Zealand's capital, has also gained from this relative freedom, rising to joint fourth place in this year’s ranking. Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo (capital) ranked second and fourth, respectively, owing to continued high stability scores.

Commenting on Singapore and Hong Kong, Dutt told Human Resources Online, “Singapore ranks 34 while Hong Kong is 49. Even though both the cities are evenly matched in terms of infrastructure and educational facilities, the key differences lie in the stability and healthcare parameters.

"The protests which rocked Hong Kong for months along with violent clashes between police and activists had a negative impact on Hong Kong’s stability rating. Additionally, Singapore witnessed a relatively lower stress on healthcare resources during the survey period, owing to better public healthcare facilities.”

Notably, both Singapore and Hong Kong lost 10 places in the ranking, making them the third biggest movers down the rankings in Asia this year. 

The most liveable cities in the world

1. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Osaka, Japan
3. Adelaide, Australia
4. Wellington, New Zealand
5. Tokyo, Japan
6. Perth, Australia
7. Zurich, Switzerland
8. Geneva, Switzerland
9. Melbourne, Australia
10. Brisbane, Australia

33. Taipei
34. Singapore
49. Hong Kong
53. Seoul
64. Suzhou, China
65.Beijing
69. Tainjin, China
70. Shanghai
73. Shenzhen
78, Dalian, China
80. Guangzhou, China
82. Kuala Lumpur
86. Qingdao, China
98. Bangkok
102. Hanoi
105. Ho Chi Minh City
109. Manila
118. New Delhi
123. Jakarta

Biggest movers up the rankings in Asia in the past six months

1. Melbourne (16 places, from #24 to #8)
2. Wellington (11 places, from #15 to #4)
3. Suzhou (9 places, from #73 to #64)
3. Beijing (9 places, from #74 to #65)
5. Sydney (8 places, from #19 to #11)
5. Taipei (8 places, from #41 to #33)
5. Ho Chi Minh City (8 places, from #113 to #105)
8. Brisbane (7 places, from #17 to #10)
9. Hanoi (7 places, from #109 to #102)
10. Perth (6 places, from #12 to #6)

Biggest movers down the rankings in Asia in the past six months

1. Noumea, New Caledonia (-20 places, from #47 to #67)
2. Seoul (-12 places, from #41 to #53)
3. Singapore (-10 places, from #24 to #34)
3. Hong Kong (-10 places, from #39 to #49)
5. Jakarta (-7 places, from #116 to #123)
6. Manila (-6 places, from #103 to #109)
7. Kuala Lumpur (-5 places, from #77 to #82)
7. Bangkok (-5 places, from #93 to #98)
9. Mumbai (-3 places, from #121 to #124)
9. Port Moresby, PNG (-3 places, from #134 to #138)

Data for this survey was collected from 22 February to 21 March 2021. Liveability assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. This year, the impact of the pandemic has been incorporated into the overall liveability score, with the introduction of new indicators to assess these stress and restriction levels for each city. They are: Stress on healthcare resources, restrictions on local sporting events, restrictions on theatre, restrictions on classic and modern music concerts, restrictions on restaurants, bars, coffee shops and nightclubs, and restrictions on educational institutes. 

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