Looking for a better life? It may be time to point your compass westward — to Western Europe and Western Canada, specifically.
Cities in both those regions make up this year’s top five most liveable cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s annual Global Liveability Index.
The survey considers five categories in its ranking system: stability, culture and environment, healthcare, infrastructure and education.
And with inflation at a scorching-hot rate of 8.6% in May, a few of these charming cities may be just the spot to flee for a more affordable life, too.
Too many Americans are still missing out on cheaper car insurance
Your cash is trash: Here are 4 simple ways to protect your money against white-hot inflation (without being a stock market genius)
How to turn your spare change into a diversified portfolio
5. Vancouver, Canada
Our northern neighbor dominates this list with two out of five cities. Vancouver, one of the country’s largest and most diverse cities, has it all: mountains, the Pacific Ocean, a varied food scene. And did we mention the mountains?
Vancouver is one of those rare cities that please both nature lovers and urbanites.
The Vancouver Economic Commission describes the city as one of North America’s fastest-growing low-carbon economies. It did face some setbacks through the pandemic, but local economic growth has started to bounce back, led by construction, technology, digital entertainment, and the green economy.
Inflation is a concern, though. Vancouver’s rate of inflation in May rose a full half percent more than the country as a whole — 8.2% compared to 7.7%.
Still, the commission remains upbeat and optimistic, noting Vancouver’s unemployment rate was the lowest of the country’s four main cities for most of 2021 and 2022 so far.
3. Calgary, Canada
It’s time to get familiar with Cow Town. This mid-sized Canadian city at the base of the Rocky Mountains isn’t just for cowboys anymore.
It’s not as internationally well-known as Canada’s larger metropolises like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, Calgary will surprise you with its culture, history, and nearby natural wonders like Banff.
It’s also Canada’s sunniest city, receiving about 333 days of sun, according to WorldAtlas.
Calgary’s GDP is projected to grow at a rate faster than the rest of the country the rest of this year — with expectations of reaching 5.5%, blowing the country’s overall anticipated growth of 3.8% out of the water.
And employment is predicted to grow at a rate above the pre-pandemic five-year historical average growth rate in both the province of Alberta and Calgary.
However, the city has been hit hard by inflation over the last year. In May, Calgary’s inflation review showed the city’s rate hit 8.0% — slightly higher than Canada’s average of 7.1% for that month. Almost all categories marked price increases — save for children’s clothing and recreational cannabis (which is legal in Canada).
3. Zurich, Switzerland
Residents of Switzerland aren’t neutral — at least about how great it is to live in Zurich. And if you’re hoping to flee to Switzerland to escape oppressive inflation, you should look no further.
As Reuters put it in an earlier article, Switzerland is the “land that inflation left behind.” While the rest of the world (and especially Europe) has been grappling with scorching inflation, Switzerland hit a modest rate of 2.9% in May.
However, keep in mind, that prices were already fairly expensive in Zurich — think New York City but with slightly less expensive rent. And like NYC, this city is known for its shopping, museums and galleries, nightlife and gorgeous vistas.
While the financial industry dominates Zurich’s business sector — accounting for about one third of its wealth and a quarter of its local jobs — life sciences, information and communications technology, cleantech and creative industries also contribute to putting Zurich on the map as the economic hub of Switzerland.
On top of that, the city boasts it offers residents progressive working conditions like fair salaries and advantageous social benefits, flexible working models, and equal opportunities for men and women.
And if that doesn’t impress you, there’s always some very fine chocolate and cheese to be found here.
More from MoneyWise
Get the latest personal finance news sent straight to your inbox with the MoneyWise newsletter.
A TikToker paid off $17,000 in credit card debt by 'cash stuffing' — can it work for you?
Biden's gas tax holiday might save you $6 a month, fueling calls for inflation stimulus checks instead
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
There’s nothing rotten in the state of Denmark. If you like ice cream, rye bread, and hot dogs — yes, hot dogs — Copenhagen is the place for you. Even Queen Margrethe II is known to partake in a Pølser (hot dog) from time to time.
Sure, winter in Denmark can be tough, but remember that the Danes invented the concept of Hygge, the cozy comfort lifestyle characterized by candles, warm sweaters, and good company. Plus: pastries.
Denmark’s rate of inflation hit 7.4% in May. And yet, in spite of that, war on the continent and the lingering effects of COVID-19, GDP is expected to rise faster than the government’s previous projections to 3.4% for 2022.
The country’s unemployment rate is currently the lowest it’s been in 13 years. But a tight labor market means there’s plenty of room for new residents with a wide array of skills.
On top of that, Denmark’s population is on the older side — meaning it will soon need an influx of newcomers to keep the country going.
1. Vienna, Austria
As Billy Joel likes to say, Vienna waits for you. The city that inspired Joel is also known colloquially as the city of music: Vienna was home to both Beethoven and Mozart and now houses the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Boys Choir.
It also boasts affordable housing, low crime rates, and generally clean and green spaces for residents.
Like most of the other cities on this list, Austria has faced its own inflation challenges this year, with its annual rate rising to 7.7% in May. And like many other countries in Europe, it’s been affected by the Ukraine war, which analysts predict will slow some of the country’s economic recovery.
Still, Austrians are pretty content with their lot. According to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 72% of Austrians between the ages of 15 to 64 have a job — compared to 67% in the U.S.
And When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Austrians gave it a 7.2 grade on average — giving it a slight edge over the U.S., which rated an average of 6.7.
What to read next
US is only a few days away from an ‘absolute explosion’ on inflation — here are 3 shockproof sectors to help protect your portfolio
‘There’s always a bull market somewhere’: Jim Cramer’s famous words suggest you can make money no matter what. Here are 2 powerful tailwinds to take advantage of today
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.