Australia is becoming a less desirable place to call home, as major capital cities slip down a global liveability index.
Traffic woes and a lack of international flights have contributed to a view that Australian cities are becoming less liveable, according to a new survey of visiting workers, though Sydney and Melbourne have remained in the top 20 for quality of life.
Safety across the nation, however, still remains among the best in the world.
Despite heightened rhetoric around street safety and gang violence in recent years, and Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton declaring last year Melburnians were too afraid to go out at night, visitors ranked the Victorian capital as the 24th most safe place in the world.
Canberra, Perth and Sydney were also tied for 24th.
Australian cities still do have a long way to go to beat Vienna, Austria, which has again topped the list of best places to live, for the 10th consecutive year.
Zurich in Switzerland was the second-most attractive place for expats, while Baghdad in Iraq was– not surprisingly– considered the worst.
The research did note, however, that conditions in Baghdad, the largest Arab city in the world, had improved with results pointing to “significant” improvements in safety and health services.
Meanwhile, friendly neighbourhood rivalry between New Zealand and Australia could be laid to rest, with Auckland ranked number three in the world for best place to live, while it and the country’s capital Wellington have been named the safest cities in the Oceania region.
Munich in Germany, and Vancouver in Canada, were equal third with Auckland.
Sydney and Melbourne both fall one place in Quality of Living ranking to 11th and 17th respectively, while rankings for Perth (21), Adelaide (29) and Canberra (30) remained unchanged.
Brisbane was the only Australian city to improve in the rankings, up two places to 35th.
The study by Mercer researchers assessed the living standards for expatriates in cities worldwide.
The survey results aimed to help organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.
Mercer’s Global Mobility Leader for Pacific Karla Costa said while Australia’s high quality of life was a clear competitive advantage in attracting international talent, the results had been lower than expected.
“While safety, climate, medical and health services, and quality housing are among Australia’s many strengths, low scores in the areas of traffic congestion and availability of international flights are letting us down,” said Ms Costa.
“In a time when workforce demands are rapidly changing with highly mobile talent and increased flexibility to meet the career and lifestyle aspirations of today’s workers, companies must now– more than ever– factor in to their value proposition the quality of life they can provide to their expatriate employees.”
This year’s survey results included a separate ranking on personal safety, which analysed cities’ internal stability, crime levels, law enforcement, limitations on personal freedom, relationships with other countries and freedom of the press.
Major Australian cities ranked well in personal safety, with Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney sharing 24th place, and Adelaide and Brisbane in joint 48th place.
Western Europe dominated the rankings, with Luxembourg named as the safest city in the world. Damascus had the lowest personal safety ranking, at 231st place.
Ms Costa said personal safety is the cornerstone of stability in any city, without which business and talent cannot thrive.