Quality, Safety, Taxes & Climate – The Best Places to Live

Although I had the fortune to travel quite a bit and see many parts of this world, I wouldn’t presume to be able to tell you exactly the best places to live on this planet. So I leave it up to the professionals and picked the annual ranking of Mercer.

The New York based company is the world’s largest human resources consulting firm with over 20’000 employees in more than 40 countries. For the ‘Quality of Living’-ranking, Mercer explores 230 global cities for their livability and attractiveness based on a total of 39 factors, grouped in the following 10 categories:

  1. Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).
  2. Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).
  3. Socio-cultural environment(media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).
  4. Medical and health considerations(medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).
  5. Schools and education(standards and availability of international schools).
  6. Public services and transportation(electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).
  7. Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).
  8. Consumer goods(availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).
  9. Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).
  10. Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).

Based on these parameters, the top-city worldwide in the category ‘Overall Quality of Living Worldwide’ is the austrian capital Vienna (see table 1) followed by Zurich (Switzerland), Auckland (New Zealand), Munich (Germany) and Vancouver (Canada). The ranks 6 to 10 are held by Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Copenhagen and Sydney.

Prague is the best place to live in Central and Eastern Europe (see table 2), followed by slovenian capital Ljubljana (76) and Budapest (77). Bucharest didn’t make the top 100 with its 109th place but the romanian capital is still far better positioned than Europe’s lowest ranking cities Kiev/Ukraine (176), Tirana/Albania (179) and Minsk/Belarus (190).

If you are more concerned about your personal safety, then Luxembourg is your top-destination (see table 3) followed by swiss capital Berne, Helsinki (Finland) and Zurich – all tied in 2nd place. Vienna ranks 5th; Geneva and Stockholm are placed jointly in 6th before Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nurnberg. Kiev (189), St. Petersburg (197), and Moscow (206) rank lowest for personal safety in Europe while war-torn Baghdad/Iraq (230) and Damascus/Syria (229) are the least safe cities worldwide.

In case you’re looking for a place to establish a company – and in light of recent events in Panama for once without using an offshore structure in a tax haven – then you should at least check out the 3 mainstream countries with the lowest corporate tax rates — and those are Ireland, Switzerland and Britain. Or the Netherlands, where the incorporation procedure for a local BV (that’s the equivalent of the German ‘GmbH’ or the American ‘limited liability company’) has been simplified and the costs have been reduced.

If quality, safety and taxes are less a concern to you, instead you are more interested to find a place that offers the perfect climate, then we can’t rely on ‘hard facts’ only and have to consider individual preferences.

What is a good climate? Most people might favor low humidity, little rainfall, mild temperatures and lots of sunny days. But it really depends whether you’re a surfer or a snowboarder, a hiker seeking the untouched nature or a city slicker and if you are looking for a place to live or to travel. So I choose a ‘climate-survey’ composed by international living experts that ranks the top-10 countries that are offering a little something for everybody: Be prepared for a surprise winner:

10. Italy

Italy really is a land of contrasts. In general, it has one of the best climates in Europe, but conditions can vary. In winter, the Italian Alps are likely to be cold with crisp blue skies and enough snow to keep skiers satisfied. On the other hand, Milan is often foggy and the Po Valley can be quite cold and damp, too. In fact winter fog can be a problem throughout the whole of central and northern Italy. For the best winter weather, look to the Italian Riviera, the Amalfi Coast, and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. All enjoy a mild winter climate and rainfall isn’t too heavy either.

9. Spain

If you had to sum up Spain’s climate in one word, it would be sunny, but the country has four different climate types; Mediterranean, continental, subtropical and mountain. The meseta (central Spain) and Ebro basin have a continental climate (as Romania) scorching in summer, cold in winter, and dry. Madrid regularly freezes in December, January and February, and temperatures climb above 30° in July and August. The Mediterranean coast and Balearic Islands get a little more rain than Madrid, and the south can be even hotter in summer. The Mediterranean, around Alicante, also provides Spain’s warmest waters (reaching 27° in August). Barcelona’s weather is typical of the coast – milder than in inland cities but more humid.

8. Brazil

Brazil’s climate is mostly tropical with temperate climates found in the southern part of the country. Temperatures are warm and balmy all year in the tropical areas, but much of the coast enjoys a pleasant onshore breeze, which makes for comfortable weather and clean air. Rainfall is generally moderate, and most coastal areas have a wet season and a relatively dry season. But these wet and dry seasons vary depending on where you are, as does the quantity of rain. In the Northeast, Recife receives 25% more rainfall than Fortaleza. Summer in Brazil is from November to March when temperatures hit 40° in Rio around Christmas. But averages of 20° to 30° all year round making Brazil a good choice for those who never want to experience another european winter.

7. Portugal

Portugal is a country of long, hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures in the summer reach 30° plus throughout most of the country and in winter temperatures range from the 5° to 15° depending on where in the country you are. Southern Portugal, which includes the Algarve, has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures are high, but moderated by sea breezes. In the north the weather is less dry, particularly in winter, and cooler, temperatures are influenced by Atlantic currents and the Spanish meseta.

6. France

France has a mostly temperate climate, though there are many regional variations. Average winter temperatures range from 0° to 10° and average summer temperatures from 15° to 25°. Clearly above average is the ‘Midi’, the french term for the south of the country. The Provence and Languedoc are characterized by mild winters and blisteringly hot summers. Along with the north and central regions, Paris has cool and fairly rainy winters, though summers here are usually hot. Winters are a lot colder in the eastern regions of Alsace-Lorraine and in the mountainous regions of the Alps, the Pyrénées, and the Massif Central.

5. Columbia

Because of Colombia’s close proximity to the equator, its climate is generally tropical and isothermal (without any real change of seasons). Temperatures vary little throughout the year and the only real variable climatic element is the amount of rainfall. Temperatures range from very hot at sea level to relatively cold at higher elevations but vary little with the season. Generally, the climate is wet and tropical. Summer is the principal rainy season although there is no specific dry season. The eastern Caribbean and Pacific coastal lowlands experience an equatorial climate with high temperatures and high humidity all year round. In the mountainous parts conditions are cooler and can be changeable depending on prevailing winds, altitude and topography.

The capital Bogotá, lies 2’640 meters above sea level and has an average of 223 days with rainfall.

4. New Zealand

New Zealand is admittedly a long way from Europe, but – on a personal note – it’s worth to visit.  New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far North Island has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island have minus-temperatures in in winter, that’s from June to August. Most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures. The average New Zealand temperature decreases from north to south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest. The pleasant climate in NZ is ideal for outdoor activities als hiking, biking or boating.

3. Panama

It’s possible that the mild ‘tax climate’ of Panama is going to change in light of the ‘Panama Papers’ but the appealing natural climate remains unchanged. Panama has a tropical maritime climate with a hot, humid, cloudy prolonged rainy season (May to January) and a short dry season (January to May). It is completely outside the hurricane belt and experiences few if any natural disasters. Most of Panama has two seasons: wet (“winter”) and dry (“summer”). Summer is from December to April. In May, the rains start gradually with frequent showers (most lasting no more than an hour or two). The wet season generally culminates in November with major downpours.Though some afternoons can be very muggy, hours or days of continuous rain are very rare especially in Panama City and the Pacific coast area known as the Arco Seco, or dry arc.

2. Uruguay

Uruguay’s climate is subtropical, partly humid, and subject to occasional rainfall; there are no major climatic variations from one region to another but they do exist between seasons. The lack of mountains allows for the free circulation of different winds. September to April are the most desirable months with respect to climate. Uruguay is not subject to snow, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or extreme cold. The moderate climate of the country means that visitors can go there at any time of the year.

1. Ecuador

Ecuador lies directly on the equator, so the entire country enjoys 12 hours of direct equatorial sunlight, 365 days a year. However, since Ecuador also has three distinct geographical areas—the Sierras (mountains), the Oriente (eastern rainforests), and the Costa (Pacific coastal plains)—climate depends largely on where you are in relation to the mountains.

For example, Ecuador’s capital, Quito, lies in the Central Valley between the Andean’s eastern and western ridges. The equator line lies just 35 km north, yet at an altitude of 2’850 meters above sea level Quito’s climate is spring-like year round. The air is dry, the equatorial sun is intense and you won’t be badgered by mosquitoes.

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sources: Mercer, Internationalliving.com

 

Table 1: Overall Quality of Living Worldwide

Overall Quality of Living Worldwide

 

Table 2: Top-Cities by Geographic Region

Top-Cities by Region

 

Table 3: Safe & Dangerous Cities 

Safe & Dangerous Cities

 

 

 

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