The capital for quality of life

Vienna is a city with high quality of life, which is much appreciated by Vienna’s many visitors. © Pixabay

When it comes to quality of life, Vienna remains firmly at the top. Once again, this city is the #1 in the “Quality of Living” ranking of the Mercer consulting firm – for the eighth consecutive time.

In 2016 Vienna is once again at the top of the international city ranking that compares quality of life internationally. With Zurich at #2 and Munich at #4 there are two more European cities among the top 5. Auckland at #3 and Vancouver at #5 round out the top ranks. These are the results of Mercer, the consulting firm that conducts this worldwide comparative study evaluating the quality of life of expatriates in 230 major cities. Baghdad is at the bottom of this worldwide list of major cities. To assess the quality of life of each city Mercer analyses 39 criteria, which play a central role, for employees who are sent abroad. These characteristics include, among others, political, social, economic, and environmental aspects. Additional factors are health, educational, and transport offers as well as other public services. For its current study Mercer assessed the factor “personal safety” separately for the first time because political and social stability have the biggest impact on the quality of life of employees who are sent abroad by their employers. Key criteria for the assessment are, for example, inner stability, crime rates, and the performance of law enforcement authorities. Expatriates feel the safest in Luxembourg, Bern, Helsinki, and Zurich. Vienna follows in this international ranking on a good 5th place. According to this ranking, Baghdad and Damascus are the world’s least safe cities. “Safety aspects are the most important because many expats are accompanied by their families when they move abroad,” says Mercer expert Ulrike Hellenkamp. “Crime rates are comparably low in Austria, law enforcement is efficient, social and political conditions are stable. Therefore Vienna feels very safe and is at the top of the international ranking.” Conversely, terrorism and social unrest lead to several European cities coming in much further down the list, such as Paris (71), London (72), Madrid (84), and Athens (124).

Challenges for companies
“Increased security risks at home and abroad, violent mass expulsions as well as social riots in important economic centres around the entire world pose challenges for multinational companies when they analyse the safety and health of their employees working abroad,” says Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President Talent Management at Mercer. They need exact data and objective methods to assess the financial impact of lower living standards and personal security aspects in regard to the remuneration of expats. The present study also enables companies to implement the appropriate security precautions for expats.
“It is a matter of course for most multinational companies to meet the requirements of expatriates and their families abroad as part of their staff retention and recruiting measures,” says Slagin Parakatil, Principal at Mercer, responsible for the quality of life study. “Dealing with security and health concerns is very important, especially for employees who move with their families.” Companies must therefore take further expenses into account, in addition to the usual safety measures and costs at foreign locations. For example, reasonably safe accommodations, in-house expat security programs, the provision of professional security experts and medical service providers as well as safety training and guarded offices.

How Vienna's course convinces ­internationally
In a first reaction, Vienna’s Mayor Michael Häupl and Renate Brauner, Vienna’s City Councillor for International Affairs, consider this ranking as an important statement in regard to comparisons to other international cities: “Vienna is a city like no other in the world when it comes to living in safety, with high social standards, affordable housing, great infrastructure, and an excellent cultural offer for all of our residents and guests. This is what Mercer and many other rankings confirm again and again. But it also shows that the Viennese are happy with their municipal services. To be the world capital for quality of life primarily means for us, as a dynamic city, that we will continue on our successful course to become an even more vibrant, liveable, and socially fair metropolis.”

Media Response to the Mercer study
There is no better place to live than Vienna – this conclusion grabs headlines around world. The Canadian “Montreal Gazette” summarises the sentiment in a nutshell with their headline: “Vienna, you rock”. More comprehensive praise comes from the “Reuters” news agency: “Vienna’s 1.7 million residents benefit from its coffee house culture and the city’s many museums, theatres, and operas. Rents and public transport in the city are cheap in comparison to other western capitals.” The French daily newspaper “Le Figaro” and the Italian “La Repbulica” and “La Stampa” take the same line.

A Declaration of love to Vienna from London and New York
The British “Telegraph” praises Vienna’s public transport, particularly the tram around the ring: “Not only the subway is great, which even reaches the outer districts, but also the red and white trams, which drive around the Ring. You can cross the city centre in half an hour”, raves the Telegraph’s author. “When it comes to affordable housing, Vienna is almost unique among metropolises”, says the “Guardian” and highlights the longstanding tradition of the social democratic government in regard to subsidised housing. The American “New York Times” also raves about the Vienna Opera, one-euro tickets for public transport, and subsidised housing.

The German “ZEIT” says: “Bye Bye Berlin”
Vienna makes Berlin look old, according to Hamburg’s “Die Zeit”: “Forget the German capital and its pseudo-hipster district coffeehouses that charge you 3.80 euros for an Americano. There is a better Berlin.” It says the food there “is delicious and affordable”. Our German neighbours also appreciate that the public transport system works. And there is also praise for Vienna’s universities and culture: “World renowned lecturers teach at the city’s art schools. Its museums are among Europe must-see sights.” “Die Zeit” even provides “A Taste of Vienna” with a video on their home page. The time-lapsed video was filmed with the city’s support and raked in massive “Likes” on social media platforms and was shared thousands of times.

A mecca for tourism
Austria’s capital positions itself successfully on the touristic world market with a winning mixture of imperial tradition and contemporary creativity. 14.3 overnight stays in 2015 brought Vienna the best tourism results in its history and surpassed the previous record of 2014 by 5.9 percent. Vienna is at #2 in the international ranking of congress destinations (2014 ranking of the International Congress and Convention Association, ICCA). Vienna owes its touristic attractiveness to the exciting link between imperial-nostalgic flair and a highly creative cultural scene, which provides the latest trends as well as the responsibly maintained rich heritage and charming traditions. The coexistence of traditional institutions like the coffeehouse and the “Heuriger” which emanate Vienna’s self-indulgent serenity, and the latest trends like internationally renowned events, ranging from the Life Ball to festivals for electronic music, convey a way of life that today’s tourists are looking for: A wide range of activities which let you choose between peace and quiet or action and stimulation whenever you feel like it.

Global Vienna
In many respects, Vienna is a highly visible and important international metropolis, with its radiant power as a centre for culture and knowledge, a globally networked economy, its role as Europe’s central hub, as a city for international dialogue and a diverse population.
The basis for Vienna’s internationality is its cosmopolitan attitude, which is, in turn, based on its population’s multicultural composition. A walk across one of Vienna’s markets like “Naschmarkt” clearly shows this as well as traditional Viennese cuisine whose specialties originated from all countries of the former Danube Monarchy with deliciously prove the city’s cultural diversity.
People from 200 nations live in the DiverCity of Vienna today. Approximately one third of the Viennese were not born in Austria, 49% of the 1.8 million residents have “migrant backgrounds” and were therefore either not born in Austria or have at least one parent who was born abroad.
Non-Austrian nationals mainly come from Serbia and Montenegro (approx. 72,000 people), from Turkey (approx. 45,000), from Germany (approx. 40,000), and Poland (approx. 38,000). The United Nations selected Vienna as one of its four official seats and is represented by 15 organisations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and the International Money Laundering Information Network (IMOLIN). But also UNIDO (the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation), IAEO (International Atomic Energy Agency), OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), and OPEC (Organisation of the Petrol Exporting Countries), and many other international organisations are present in this city. International organisations in Vienna have over 5,000 employees. (BO)

• Total area: 41,487 ha
• Construction areas: 35.6 %
• Green areas: 45.5 %
• Water areas: 4.6 %
• Traffic areas: 14.3 %
• Length of city boundary: 136.5 km
• Population: 1,797,337
• Men: 867,633
• Women: 929,704

• Total number of arrivals: 6,589,031
• Total number overnight stays: 14,328,261

Statistik Austria, MA 23, WienTourismus