Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The best and worst cities to live in 2015.


This week, the 18th Mercer Quality of Life study was released, and - no surprise - German-speaking cities took half of the top ten. That Teutonic approach to efficiency, maintenance and work-life balance is pretty much perfection. Vienna topped the list and Zurich came in at number two, followed by Auckland, Munich, Vancouver, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen, and Sydney. If you've never been to, or lived in Vienna, just watch the time lapse video below and you'll be searching airfares! (You're welcome:)



"Quality of life" is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but I have to say that until living in Zurich and actually experiencing top notch quality of life, I didn't really know what the phrase meant. Now I can say that to me it's many things, including easy access to the outdoors, safety and security, reliable public transportation, cleanliness, parks and public spaces, access to high-quality, nutritious food, and cosmopolitan urbanism. But don't take my word for it, check out this video from Monocle.



Killing it on all fronts, Zurich! Did you hear that? I think it was my heart breaking.

I am writing this blog post from the car parked in front of our house. This has become my defacto office because when Theo falls asleep in the car on the way home from dropping Coco off at school, I have postpone my errands and leave him until he wakes up. It's a bummer, but that child will not transfer from the car seat to his bed, or to our bed, or to the couch, or even to the stroller. Sometimes, dependent on some elusive combination of the alignment of the planets and what he ate for dinner three days ago, he will transfer to the stroller, but only once. So if I do a quick errand and then put him back in his car seat, it's nap over. Ugh. This was simply never a problem with Coco. It was perfect if she fell asleep while out and about. She was in her Bugaboo and I was free to run all the errands while she slept. We went from the sidewalk to the tram, to shops, through lines, to the post office, back onto the tram or bus, even onto a boat and I didn't have to disturb her through all of it! How I miss that. Sigh.

Here in the Northwest, we have the great outdoors, but we do not have easy access to the outdoors. When I say easy, I mean without a car. Driving for 20 minutes, an hour, two hours to get to a trailhead is not easy, in my humble opinion. From our apartments in Neuchâtel, Adliswil and Zurich, we were able to walk right out our front door and to a trail head. No train, no tram, no car - no joke. Even in Seefeld, right in the middle of the city. Is that not rad?!

The ol' cliché that you don't know what you have until it's gone comes to mind. But it could always be worse! Baghdad was the very last city on the list (even after Damascus!) And New York, Paris, San Francisco and London didn't even make the top 25. You can see the full list and read about the study here

Have you lived in one of the top eleven cities? (Beautiful Amsterdam is number 11:) What is wonderful or dreadful about where you live? What matters most to you when it comes to quality of life? 

13 comments:

  1. I live in Vancouver, Canada, and it is pretty great. From my neighbourhood (Kitsilano), I can run all my errands with my son in the stroller, take the bus to either downtown or forested trails in 20 minutes, and walk to the beach in 10. The only problem is that real estate is quite expensive, but we are happy living in 761 square feet. Also, it can get a little smoggy in the summer, but not as bad as other cities.

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    1. Smaller is better, Becs! Don't be tempted by space...if you haven't read our home tour on Design Mom yet, it's about this very idea. Link in right sidebar, if it interests you. xoxoxo

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  2. Hi Lindsey, I am also from the Vancouver area and moved away for the same issues of real estate mentioned above. I had my son right in the heart of the city for his first year, however, and while we walked everywhere, I couldn't run a single errand with him as he would wake as soon as there was a change in environment (sound, temperature, etc.) so maybe Theo is just a more sensitive napper than Coco. Just thought I'd add in a thought there to (hopefully) make you feel better about your situation. We too are forever regretting our decision to leave the city for the suburbs, so I feel your angst 100%!!

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    1. That is very possible, Angela! Thanks for pointing that out. Theo is a very light sleeper!! It's tough weighing the expensive city against the more affordable, but way less cool suburbs, isn't it? I keep asking myself what I want more: adventurous travel lifestyle or more delicious babies. SO. DAMN. HARD. ;) Thanks for chiming in! xoxo

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  3. Ah! Love this. Gorgeous videos! And yay for Amsterdam! :)

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  4. Hi Lindsey,
    I have been reading your blog for a little while now and am really enjoying it. In many ways I feel connected to your experience. I am nothern German, met my Australian partner on a gap year in Auckland, later i studied in Tuebingen. I got a scholarship and studied in India for two semesters. Then we moved to Melbourne where my partner started studying and a year ago we left Melbs to move to a country town in Queensland, Australia. Life has had many changes. Sometimes I ache for simple things like hearing church bells or the weekly farmers/ flee markets or spending time in the sun without being burned within five minutes. But i also feel foreign when I go back to Germany. I think once you are fully uprooted you will not find that sense of home again. But thats alright with me, nowhere is perfect. I am glad I live in a time where we can be so mobile.
    Still, sometimes I get really anxious that my children have such a different cultural upbringing to me. I hate the concept of private schools here in Australia. So unfair! i really hope I wont be alienated from them and stay connected (not like in the inheritance of loss)
    Anyways, what a long comment. My first one ever! You inspired me. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Henrike! Your comment puts a smile on my face. :) It's true that once you've changed enough, nowhere really feels like home and yet you feel at home in multiple places. I'm working on enjoying where I am because it won't be forever and I know I'll be missing it later. I love the comment about not being burned within five minutes! Oh dear!!! ;) Take care and thanks again for reading. xoxo

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  5. Happy to see Munich on that list and agree fully :) Whenever I am home visiting family or friends in the states, they always ask me "when are you moving back?" and my answer lately is "you know - maybe never" and when they ask why my answer is always "life in munich is really good - on all fronts - we would not be able to afford that kind of life in the US" and it's true, I really believe that in most of these cities, a "good life" is accessible to most people, regardless of income.

    Just FYI we are planning a number 3, so your travel and adventure lifestyle does not necessarity preclude having more delicious babies!!! In Munich, having three kids is actually pretty common and for the quality of life reasons mentioned above, quite doable. As you know, Europeans don't think that you need as much living space as many americans think you do - we live in a 90 square meter apartment and don't plan on leaving anytime soon. We love our car free lifestyle and with trains and trams there is no need to purchase a new vehicle or anything with three little ones!

    Just some thoughts - I always love hearing yours!!!

    Also, we go to Vienna every year around Easter and it is my absolute favorite European city after Munich (although I have only been to Zurich once, I must go back!)

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  6. Also about the car thing - I absolutely dread that part of being in the States with the kids - feeling stuck when someone falls asleep in the car!! My kids have always taken their naps in strollers out in the city, and actually it's the only way my older guy will even consider a nap lately. Trapped in the car is the worst - but it sounds like you do make the best of it!

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    1. I'm in the car again today! I'm getting used to it. The plus is that I really focus, whereas inside I get distracted really easily. HA!
      But, I really do think that the car thing is probably the thing I dislike the most and the carless life is the thing I might miss the most. That lifestyle is the BEST. But, just enjoying our luxurious Volkswagen while it's our everyday reality. It won't last forever, and I'll miss it some day. I know I will! Sheesh! The heart is so fickle. ;) xx

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  7. This is so interesting to me! I would love to live in a European city with my kids for an extended period of time just to give them the culture and experience. I'm in Seattle, I wonder what their ranking was.

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    1. The Guardian published the whole list: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/23/vienna-named-worlds-top-city-for-quality-of-life Seattle is #46, just three slots above LA! My cousins lived in Wallingford when we were growing up and I love that neighborhood, but Seattle traffic is just a nightmare!

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