Athens soared 19 places in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest ranking of the world’s most livable cities, among the biggest upward movers in the annual report.
Its climb to number 73 on the list of 172 cities comes a year after Greece’s capital plunged last year, with the report noting how Covid-19’s “heavy toll” on global livability.
This year, Vienna was again ranked as the best city in the world to live in according to the ranking. It was followed by Copenhagen, Denmark; Zurich, and Calgary, Canada — those two cities tied for third place. Next was Vancouver, Canada then Geneva; Frankfurt, Germany, followed by Toronto then Amsterdam. Osaka, Japan and Melbourne, Australia tied for 10th place.
Last year, Covid negatively affected Greece’s tourism and hospitality industries, widening the country’s budget deficit and pushing it back into recession last summer.
But 2022 is a different story. Earlier this year, the capital ranked among the top cities in the world to move to, according to research carried out by Property Guides, a UK-based real estate company.
“2022 is the year we return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of the number of cruise ships in operation, while in 2023 we expect to exceed 2019 passenger numbers,” said CLIA national director in the Eastern Mediterranean Maria Deligianni at this year’s Posidonia 2022, one of the world’s largest shipping exhibitions.
The Economist’s annual index is based on 0 to 100 score. Athens this year notched 74.5, a range where the index says, “Day-to-day living is fine, in general.” Some of the index’s key factors include, healthcare, stability, education infrastructure and culture & environment.
Athens’ Planned Improvements
Some of the problems plaguing Athens include its heavy reliance on cars and lack of sufficient public transport, need for more housing, slow construction timelines and lack of adequate green spaces. But a major development project, Hellinikon Park, is on the way. It will be bigger than both London’s Hyde Park and Central Park in New York City, and will be the largest coastal park in all of Europe.
The green space will be part of the massive Hellinikon regeneration project at the former Athens airport. Lamda stated that the Hellinikon Park will be completed in 2025.
Other major cities on the list include New York, which ranked 51st; Paris, 19th —23 places above last year’s mark— and London, 33rd. Spain’s Barcelona and Madrid, ranked 35th and 43rd respectively and Beijing was 71st on the index.
Meanwhile, Damascus, Syria, and Tripoli, Libya continued to languish at the bottom of the list —along with Lagos, Nigeria— as they faced social unrest, terrorism and conflict.
This year’s Economist index of cities —excluding Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv— is 33 more than last year’s total.
Russia’s invasion of Kyiv pushed down the rankings for Moscow and St. Petersburg. Both cities record a fall in scores owing to increased instability, censorship, imposition of Western sanctions and corporates withdrawing their operations from the country.
Many of the new cities are in developing markets: they include 11 in China, which face longer-term problems such as censorship, relatively weaker infrastructure and developing education systems, the report noted.
Overall, this year’s index rose sharply in the survey. Scores for culture and environment, healthcare and education have improved on the back of Covid’s curbs being eased, according to the report. The global average score does still remain below pre-pandemic levels.