Melbourne ranked the world's most liveable city while Sydney suffers

Published: 19 August 2016


Forget the Olympics, this is where the real competition is at and once again it’s Melbourne that’s defied the odds and taken the cash.

The nation’s ‘first capital’ has jagged the title of ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ for the sixth consecutive year, based on rankings carried out by the ‘Economist Intelligence Unit’.

The EIU ranks 140 world cities based on healthcare, education, stability, culture, environment and infrastructure- giving them a score out of 100.

Melbourne took first place, with the highest score, 97.5 out of 100, despite some concern it may have lost the prestigious honour this year, with RMIT Professor Michael Buxton saying last week the city was in danger of ‘collapsing under its own weight’.

By contrast, While Melbourne remains on top, Sydney slipped out of the top ten, not because of its infrastructure, services, or environment… But exclusively because of heightened fears over a terror attack… Or so they it’s claimed.

Side-by-side, you can see why Melbourne is so far ahead. How long can Sydney keep pointing at an Opera House and Bridge and say to itself “yeah, that’ll do…that’s good enough” before the city finally admits it has a problem.

While Sydney may be on par with healthcare, education, stability, environment and light years ahead in infrastructure, it gets smashed for six when it comes to culture.

Try putting Norton Street Leichhardt up against Lygon Street in Carlton in a two horse race and you’d be laughed off the track. There’s also the National Gallery of Victoria, the country’s oldest and most visited gallery. While even a walk through the city comes alive in Melbourne, as you can lose yourself in the quirky arcades and laneways that weave a rich tapestry throughout the town, so much so, that Sydney has even tried to copy the example with small bars.

And there is no competition to the Queen Victoria Markets, and don’t even get started on the Carlton United Brewery tours!


‘Little Italy’ side by side: Lygon Street in Carlton with its colourful atmosphere and huge stretch of alfresco dining all year around. Compared to Norton street, Leichhardt in Sydney’s Inner West

When it comes to major sporting events, Melbourne has the Australian Open, Melbourne Cup, Grand Prix, and AFL Grand Final just to name a few… While Sydney, granted it has the NRL Grand Final and State of Origin (big in only two states) but what else does it have?

Well, Sydney hosts the Australian Badminton Open and the Sydney Kite Flying Festival. But even if it was able to snag some big sporting events, you have to then convince people to go to them.  In Melbourne, the MCG, AAMI Park, Etihad Stadium, are all in walking distance of the CBD, while in Sydney you have to travel at least half-an-hour to the ghost town that is Sydney Olympic Park.


Melburnians will attend just about anything. Selling out a Rugby League State of Origin Game at the MCG, while in Sydney, they struggle to get anyone to come to an AFL match at Sydney Olympic 

Once upon a time, Former Prime Minister Paul Keating may have said, “If you're not living in Sydney you're camping out.” Now, it seems other parts of Australia have the upper hand. When looking at the scores, with three Australian cities are sitting in the Top Ten. Adelaide has taken out equal fifth position with Calgary, while in the west, Perth was placed seventh.

It’s clear that the winners of the survey are predominately mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. However speaking today, Professor Buxton says before we judge too quickly, the ranking system does have certain flaws.

“These rankings do not reflect the lives of Average Melburnians, they’re geared largely for high income overseas professionals who might be looking to relocate. Things they use to measure such as parkland, private schools, and climate have no relevance to your working class family that is already living here … What does the quality of a private school in Camberwell have to do with people living in the rest of the city”.

He adds while it’s great to have this as a marketing tool, there is concern just how the Government will use the tag.

“Governments use these as marketing tools, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and great to bring in tourists and money to the city. What is bad, is if the label is used by Government to gloss over, or ignore the real problems the people of the city are experiencing.”


While you would like to think that affordable housing, population, transport would be the major concern of most people. Sadly, it is security that has everyone frightened, and hence was the reason that most major cities lost out this year. Paris after several terror attacks was one of the hardest cities hit when sliding down the ranks to 32nd spot, while in the United States, Atlanta and Chicago slipped because of civil unrest. Athens also fell hard, with continuing civil strife in the city, down to 69th spot..


World’s most liveable and least liveable cities as judged by EIU, the research arm of ‘The Economist Group’ which also publishes the internationally respected newspaper of the same name, The Economist.