On the same day that a world survey by GPS navigation company Tom Tom shows Auckland’s congestion has almost doubled in the last three years, a different ranking places the city as the world’s third best. 

While it wasn’t quite good enough to beat Vienna or Zurich, Auckland beat out all other global centres in consulting firm Mercer’s list of cities offering the highest quality of life. 

Vienna, Austria’s grand capital on the Danube river, topped the list for the eighth year in a row, while Baghdad is again considered the worst place to live.

The survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

London, Paris, Tokyo and New York City did not even make the top 30, lagging behind most big German, Scandinavian, New Zealand and Australian cities.

Sydney came in equal 10th with Basel. Singapore was the highest ranked Asian city at 25 while 29th-placed San Francisco was the United States’ highest entry.

Vienna’s 1.8 million inhabitants benefit from the city’s cafe culture and museums, theatres and operas. Rents and public transport costs in the city, whose architecture is marked by its past as the centre of the Habsburg empire, are cheap compared with other western capitals.

Baghdad was again ranked lowest in the world. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the Iraqi capital since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Six years into Syria’s bloody war, Damascus was ranked seventh from bottom, with Bangui in the Central African Republic, Yemeni capital Sana’a, Haiti’s Port-au-Prince, Sudan’s Khartoum and Chad’s N’Djamena filling out the end of the list.

The top 10 cities for quality of life

1. Vienna, Austria

2. Zurich, Switzerland

3. Auckland, New Zealand

4. Munich, Germany

5. Vancouver, Canada

6. Dusseldorf, Germany

7. Frankfurt, Germany

8. Geneva, Switzerland

9. Copenhagen, Denmark

10. Basel, Switzerland/ Sydney, Australia.

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