Vienna tops quality of life global survey of cities

Vienna

Austria's capital offers its residents the best quality of life of any city in the world and Baghdad the worst, according to the latest global survey from consultant group Mercer.

The Austrian capital with 1.7 million residents came top of the survey for the fourth year in a row, boasting of a vibrant cultural scene alongside comprehensive health care and moderate but rising housing costs.

Its opulent architecture from the time of the Habsburg empire makes it a tourist magnet.

The reliable public transport system costs just 1 euro ($1.30) a day for an annual pass in a city governed by left-leaning Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens.

"The city is so international... I have been waiting for buses and heard over 10 languages being spoken at one stop," said American Dawn Gartlehner, 42, a law firm manager who has lived in Vienna for more than 15 years.

"The city caters to all kinds of people, all ages and all walks of life. You can have a wonderful day here spending all the money in your bank account but have an equally great time spending nothing at all."

Mercer conducts its annual survey to help companies and organisations set compensation for staff on international assignments. It uses 39 factors such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

Anna Staribacher, a 24-year-old student, praised her home town's safe streets and abundance of parks and woodlands.

"Austria is a wealthy country, we have low unemployment and free university access. Living is affordable and prices are still moderate by international standards. But I wonder why people are still so grumpy all the time?"

Despite its sovereign debt crisis, Europe has 15 of the world's top 25 cities in the 2012 survey. Germany and Switzerland each have three in the top 10. The lowest- ranking city in western Europe was Athens, gripped by deep economic woes.

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