Vienna has once again been ranked the 'world’s most liveable city' in 2022 according to The Economist’s Intelligence Unit report. The Austrian capital had previously plummeted to 12th place in the 2021 rankings due to its COVID-19 regulations but has since reclaimed the top spot.
With charming architecture, an abundance of green spaces and a vibrant art scene, it’s no wonder the city has clawed its way back to number one.
Below, we explore six reasons that make Vienna such a liveable and loveable city.
1. Exceptional healthcare
Healthcare in Austria is among the best in Europe. Every resident in the country has access to free healthcare thanks to tax contributions. The healthcare practitioners in Vienna are highly skilled and the facilities are excellent, attracting medical tourists from all over Europe. The city’s pharmacies are well-stocked, and patients only need to pay small levies on certain medications. All this, including destigmatised mental healthcare, makes for a first-rate health system.
2. World-class public transport infrastructure
In a bustling metropolitan city, an efficient public transport system is a vital component of a productive and stress-free quality of life. With plenty of bike paths and reliable multi-modal public transport, traffic congestion in Vienna is lower than in most European cities. Getting around in Vienna’s city centre on foot or by bicycle is also encouraged, as it promotes fitness and also reduces congestion on the city’s roads.
“Public transport is incredible in Vienna. There are so many options, and it’s all so efficient! I feel like I can get to almost anywhere in the city in about half an hour – it’s amazing!" says Tessa, a British expat living and working in Vienna.
3. Thriving arts and culture scene
Coffee, culture and art are hallmarks of the lifestyle in Vienna. As the classical music capital of the world, the city is chock-full of concert halls, theatres and other music venues. Exceptional museums, galleries and cafes also abound. Coffee lovers will relish Vienna’s remarkable coffee culture; coffee shops can be found on every corner, and they provide residents with quaint and peaceful spaces to reflect on the day’s events.
4. Favourable rental conditions
Although finding suitable accommodation in Vienna is notoriously difficult and expensive, the rental market is favourable to tenants. Rental contracts generally protect tenants from being charged exorbitant rates. The social housing structure in the city is also quite popular among the residents as it offers quality subsidised housing.
Expats living in Vienna note that accommodation in the city is among the most affordable in Europe. “Standards vary widely of course, but I think the average rental unit is quite good – especially in relation to the price and in comparison with other capital cities in Europe,” explains Michael, a Mexican expat who’s been living in Vienna for more than 15 years.
Having a comfortable, functional and affordable roof over your head significantly contributes to a sense of wellbeing, security and happiness, and is another reason Vienna has been ranked the world's most liveable city no fewer than 10 times.
5. Low crime rates
Austria has always ranked high on the Global Peace Index. This was further fortified by a significant drop in reported crimes in Vienna between 2019 and 2021, and led to the country ranking as the fifth most peaceful country in the world in 2022's index.
“Vienna is a very safe city – there are not really any dangerous areas that can compare with the truly dodgy parts of other metropolitan cities I know” says Michael. Safety is one of the major factors of a city’s quality of life, and it is one more box Vienna easily ticks.
6. Minimal pollution and clean air
Located in the countryside on the Danube River, Vienna is known for being green and clean with fantastic water and air quality. The streets in Vienna are also some of the cleanest in Europe. As the world grapples with climate change, the city's residents have committed to maintaining Vienna's green reputation.
While life in Vienna may not be perfect, the picturesque, culture-rich city proves that prioritising the basics such as quality housing and healthcare, and having breathable air as well as drinkable water makes for contented residents.
“I love Vienna,” confesses UK expat Tessa. “It’s small enough that it’s so easy to get everywhere and really get to know the city, but also big enough that there’s always something going on, whatever your interests are."