In probably the least surprising news of the year, Melbourne’s rank on the list of World’s Most Liveable Cities has taken a fair whack thanks, ya know, a global pandemic.

The Economist has published its annual Global Liveability Index for 2021, and the once-dominant reign of Melbourne appears to be over. For now, at least.

The Victorian capital has enjoyed a stranglehold on the top two spots in the list, taking out top spot between 2011 and 2017, and sitting comfortably in second thereafter.

In this year’s index, however, Melbourne has suffered an almighty tumble down the rankings, coming in at a shamefully low 8th overall. Our Kiwi cousins in Auckland have claimed the overall #1 spot for the first time, topping this year’s list with a rating of 96.0 out of 100.

COVID-19 lockdowns have, for obvious reasons, played a huge part in what’s easily the most significant shakeup of the ranking in its history.

The rankings take into account a number of factors, including healthcare, culture, education, infrastructure, and stability. Those cities that have been ravaged by the COVID pandemic have seen their scores plummet, while those who imposed tough restrictions early – and therefore skipped the worst of it – have steadily risen.

In Auckland’s case, the index notes that “owing to border closures and a consequently low COVID-19 case count, New Zealand has been able to keep its theatres, restaurants and other cultural attractions open. Students have been able to continue going to school, giving Auckland a 100% score for education.” For that reason, Auckland has risen to the top of the ranking after placing 6th in last year’s poll. Meanwhile Wellington has jumped into the top ten, rising from 14th last year to sit in 4th place.

Of the Australian cities that made the list, Adelaide is our new reigning champion. The South Australian centre cracked the top three, sitting in third overall, with Perth slotting in at sixth. Brisbane, meanwhile, managed to sneak into the top ten in 10th spot.

Sydney, for what it’s worth, reportedly finished in 11th place, outside the top ten. Which is wild in the sense that Melbourne has been in lockdown since time immemorial, and yet Sydney still sucks by comparison.

You can peep the top ten most liveable cities, and top ten least liveable, below:


1) Auckland, New Zealand
2) Osaka, Japan
3) Adelaide, Australia
4) Wellington, New Zealand
5) Tokyo, Japan
6) Perth, Australia
7) Zurich, Switzerland
8) Geneva, Switzerland [tied]
8) Melbourne, Australia [tied]
10) Brisbane, Australia


1) Damascus, Syria
2) Lagos, Nigeria
3) Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
4) Dhaka, Bangladesh
5) Algiers, Algeria
6) Tripoli, Libya
7) Karachi, Pakistan
8) Harare, Zimbabwe
9) Douala, Cameroon
10) Caracas, Venezuala

Image: Getty Images / Barcroft Media