The Mercer 2011 worldwide Quality of Living Survey came out a couple of days ago and Chicago ranked 43rd, which isn’t too bad really. Chicago tied with Washington DC and was behind Honolulu (29), San Francisco (30), and Boston (36) and was ahead of New York (47), Seattle (48), and Pittsburgh (49). At the top of the list is Vienna (well sure…they have the sausages, beef, Schnitzel, and the coffee), while Baghdad is #221 at the bottom of the list (do you need to ask why?) European cities dominate the top 10 spots in the list.
Mercer is a human resource consultant that produces these rankings so that companies can factor quality of living differences into their compensation structure as they move employees around the world. They come up with their rankings based upon 39 factors that they group into 10 categories:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc)
- Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc)
- Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc)
- Health and sanitation (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc)
- Schools and education (standard and availability of international schools, etc)
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc)
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc)
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc)
- Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc)
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)
Note that cost of living is not factored into any of these rankings because that would be a separate consideration for employers. So the fact that places like London and San Francisco rank higher than Chicago doesn’t mean much because it will cost you a fortune to live in those places.