Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The United States of Meh?

Mrs. Blog and I like to joke when we return to the homeland that we're going back to the United States of Awesome. That's because (especially compared with the 'Dhabs), it is awesome, full of outdoor sports, outdoor beer and that rarest of luxuries, freedom of expression.

But according to a new study, no U.S. city is among the top or bottom 10 most livable places in the world. The best:

1) Melbourne, Australia
2) Vienna, Austria
3) Vancouver, Canada
4) Toronto, Canada
5) Calgary, Canada
6) Sydney, Australia
7) Helsinki, Finland
8) Perth, Australia
9) Adelaide, Australia
10) Auckland, New Zealand

The worst:

1) Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
2) Tehran, Iran
3) Douala, Cameroon
4) Karachi, Pakistan
5) Tripoli, Libya
6) Algiers, Algeria
7) Lagos, Nigeria
8) Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
9) Dhaka, Bangladesh
10) Harare, Zimbabwe

And somewhere in the middle lies all of America. It is simultaneously easy and difficult to understand. On the one hand, the U.S. is pretty expensive compared to other places in the world, depending on where you are. On the other hand, it's a vast place, and I know first-hand there are cities within its borders that are beautiful, interesting and relatively inexpensive.

I have never been to Adelaide, for instance, but I have a hard time believing it tops San Francisco, Chicago, New York. Smaller cities like Portland, Ore., and Savannah, Ga., should be dark-horse contenders as well. In the end I think cost of living probably plays the biggest role.

But in this case, I think there is truth to the old saw: You really do get what you pay for.

UPDATE: Reading through the entire list again, it's remarkable how little it lines up with my personal experiences. For instance, Istanbul (yes, I know I haven't written the travel posts I said I would. Hush.) is No. 110... below both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There is literally nothing better about either of the UAE cities, as far as I can tell. Or Manchester, UK, being ranked higher than New York... how does that happen? Similarly, there is no way Detroit (!!!) should be ranked higher than San Francisco. I do agree that Paris beats Atlanta, though.

1 comment:

Pietro Devon said...

more meaningless 'studies', but fun to read and argue about. aren't these lists more or less designed just to sell media?