Melbourne came up tops in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest liveability survey (97.5 points) just beating Vienna (97.4) and Vancouver (97.3).
A colleague of mine was incredulous, noting that the trains are packed, there’s litter and graffiti, she’s seen a fight in the street, and rents are stratospheric.
My light-hearted reposte, at least to the last point: you live in St Kilda — what did you expect? In any case, I think Melbourne (at least, most of the bits I frequent) is very liveable.
It’s a legitimate question though — how do they come up with the ratings?
- Stability (eg crime, civil unrest) 95 (it was petty crime that lost us a few points)
- Healthcare (eg availability and quality) 100
- Culture and environment (eg weather, social/religious restrictions, censorship, recreation) 95.1 (climate: discomfort, and recreation: culture — whatever that means — were below full marks)
- Education (eg quality) 100
- Infrastructure (eg transport, energy, water, telecommunications) 100
The catch with any survey of this type is that it’s based on a particular view of things. The EIU notes how it originated: The survey originated as a means of testing whether Human Resource Departments needed to assign a hardship allowance as part of expatriate relocation packages.
No doubt it’s evolved over the years, but I suspect the origin is a key element in the ratings. That is, if you’re an expat relocated to somewhere like Melbourne, you’re probably living and working in the CBD and surrounds, where the streets are (usually) clean and safe, the environs are vibrant, the public transport is good.
It’s a little like the transport experts who come and visit, observe a tram every minute or two along busy streets like Collins and Swanston Streets, and come to the conclusion that the PT system is brilliant.
Thus, the survey result ranked “Quality of public transport” as “Acceptable”. (The rankings available in this category appear to be: Unacceptable, intolerable, tolerable, acceptable.)
It’s quite another story if you’re in the burbs with pathetic PT and no money for a car, finding it difficult to access basic amenities like shops, education and recreational facilities.
Likewise, no local would claim that the educational or healthcare systems in Melbourne were perfect, but to those doing the survey, they ranked 100/100.
We in Melbourne have plenty to be proud of, but we should of course never think we are perfect — in many areas, even those where the EIU says we scored perfectly, there is a lot of room for improvement.
- Melbourne Urbanist: Does being the most liveable city in the world mean anything?
- Gordon Price (Vancouver): Gasp! Shock! Vancouver only third most livable city