Adelaide rebounds in world’s most liveable city ranking – but still behind Melbourne

Adelaide has been ranked the world’s 12th most liveable city on a global index – up from 30th last year – but still lags behind Melbourne and Sydney which made the top five.

Jun 22, 2023, updated Jun 22, 2023
Photo: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Photo: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2023 Global Liveability Index released today named Melbourne as Australia’s most liveable city for a second consecutive year, after Adelaide held the title in 2021.

The Victorian capital was ranked third in the world ahead of Sydney (fourth), Adelaide and Perth (joint 12th) and Brisbane (16th).

Vienna in Austria was named the world’s most liveable city for a second year running ahead of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The EIU’s most liveable cities index for 2023. Table: EIU

Adelaide’s 12th placed ranking is a marked improvement on last year when it plummeted to 30th in the world, primarily due to lingering COVID-19 restrictions.

In 2021, the EIU ranked Adelaide third in the world and Australia’s most liveable city – a fact that was regularly trumpeted by politicians and industry groups in the ensuing 12 months.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said this year’s result is a “very positive improvement”.

“We all know Adelaide has an incredible lifestyle that is the envy of the world,” he said in a statement.

“Last year’s ranking was disappointing, but it is very pleasing to see strong improvement across the past 12 months.

“I have an ambition for our city to continue to do even better in coming years as one of the most liveable places on earth.”

All Australian cities moved up in this year’s index, with the Asia-Pacific region making up eight of the top-10 biggest improvers on their 2022 result.

Melbourne moved up from 10th to 3rd, Sydney from 13th to 4th, Brisbane from 27th to 16th and Perth from 32nd to 12th.

The improvement in Australia largely came at the expense of cities in Western Europe, the EIU said, with Frankfurt and Amsterdam dropping out of the top 10. London fell from 32nd to 46th.

The EIU index assesses 173 cities on five categories – stability, healthcare, education, culture and environment, and infrastructure – to devise a score out of 100.

Adelaide’s score has improved to 95.9 from 90.7. Its score this year is actually 1.9 points higher than in 2021 when it was named Australia’s most liveable city.

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The EIU attributed the rise of Australian cities to improvements in the healthcare category compared to last year “when they were still affected by COVID waves that stressed their healthcare systems”.

The EIU sells its data on all 173 cities to companies that are looking to relocate their operations or devise a market entry strategy.

Notably, housing affordability is not one of the factors in the EIU’s assessment criteria, with “availability of good quality housing” only a subcategory within the infrastructure bracket.

Adelaide’s median house price is $650,000, much lower than Sydney (more than $1m) and Melbourne (around $750,000), according to CoreLogic data released in April.

Adelaide Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith said of today’s ranking: “It’s good to see Adelaide is getting the global recognition it deserves, with our culture, environment, and quality of life the envy of many cities across the world.

“Adelaide’s played host to an exciting calendar of new events this year, from Gather Round or LIV Golf, that have made people rethink the stereotypical perceptions of our city.

“After taking a tumble in the rankings last year, I expect we’re on our way to reclaiming the mantle of the Australia’s most liveable city.”

Committee for Adelaide CEO Sam Dighton said the EIU index “demonstrates the strong attraction of Adelaide as a place to live, to work, and to study”.

He also said it “reinforces the work that’s being done to attract skilled migrants into the city” and attributed the rise up the ranking to the bounce back from COVID-19.

SA Property Council executive director Bruce Djite said Adelaide was in a “strong position” to move further up the index in future years.

“It is great to see Adelaide regain ground in the most recent liveability index,” he said.

“When you look at the criteria that sits behind the index, it is no wonder that Adelaide’s position is a prominent one.

“Investments in health, culture, environment, education and infrastructure have featured prominently in state government budgets over recent years which will place us in a strong position to move further up the index.”

At the other end of the scale, war-torn Syrian capital Damascus was ranked the world’s least liveable city, below Tripoli, Libya; Algiers, Algeria; Lagos, Nigeria and Karachi, Pakistan.

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