The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney clicked up another notch this week, with the release of a global liveable cities report showing the New South Wales capital leapfrogged two spots to fit in just behind Melbourne.
Melbourne held the crown of the world’s most liveable city, as deemed by the Economist Intelligence Unit for seven years, until it was knocked down to the silver medal position last year by Vienna.
When this year’s rankings were released on Wednesday, Vienna remained on top, with Melbourne closely behind.
The surprise, however, was Sydney, which jumped from fifth place in 2018 to third.
Just three years ago, the Harbour City was ranked 11th, a slot attributed to the “heightened perceived threat of terrorism” in the aftermath of the Lindt Cafe siege.
Adelaide was the third Australian city to make it into the top 10.
The world’s top 10 most liveable cities
- Vienna, Austria
- Melbourne, Australia
- Sydney, Australia
- Osaka, Japan
- Calgary, Canada
- Vancouver, Canada
- Toronto, Canda
- Tokyo, Japan
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Adelaide, Australia
Sydney’s stocks rise
There are two main areas that received a ratings boost that helped Sydney jump into third place this year: Stability (comprising public safety and crime levels), culture and environment.
As the perceived threat of terrorism levels in the city, the stability rating has smoothed out to 95 (out of 100) since it re-entered the top 10 ranking, on par with Melbourne.
The city’s biggest leap, however, was in the area of culture and environment. Last year, it scored 94.4; this year, it pulled a total of 97.2.
It’s this kind of boost that University of New South Wales City Futures research fellow Ori Gudes said lifted the city to an overall score of 98.1 (Melbourne sits at 98.4, Vienna at 99.1).
Many have attributed the boost to the city’s continued commitment to sustainability, particularly through the release of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy.
Dr Gudes told The New Daily Sydney’s sporting recreation facilities could also take some credit, with their ability to consistently attract global sporting events and partners.
As for the future, Melbourne better watch its back. Sydney is only just starting its climb, Dr Gudes predicted.
“I think there’s a lot of work within infrastructure in Sydney (such as the light rail project, WestConnex and the Metro trains upgrade) but they have not matured yet,” Dr Gudes said.
“I think it’s just going to be improved (the score).”
But Melbourne’s not done yet
While Melbourne might be shot of the No.1 ranking, the city remains an extremely functional and enjoyable place to live, a leading community health expert says.
Current infrastructure and urban development plans in the works will cater to the city’s expanding population, while improving its liveability status, Professor Billie Giles-Corti told The New Daily.
A Distinguished Professor with RMIT University, and director of the school’s Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, Professor Giles-Corti said the key to Melbourne’s future success lied in its outer suburbs.
She signalled the ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ plan as a vital component to maintaining a high standard of living as the population is expected to boom to 30 million by 2029.
The 20-minute neighbourhood concept is much as it sounds: Design and invest in neighbourhoods so its residents have access to all the amenities they need – employment, education, and health and recreation services – within 20 minutes of travel.
One of the markers in determining a city’s liveability is its non-car infrastructure.
Currently, Professor Giles-Corti said about 79 per cent of Melburnians commute via car, with just 16 per cent using public transport and a further 5 per cent walking or cycling.
If the city could pull off the $50 billion suburban rail loop, Professor Giles-Corti said Melbourne could be in good steed to further improve its liveability factor.
But it’s got to be done with sustainability in mind, she said.
“I think within five kilometres of all train stations there should be safe bike tracks … so that people can cycle to the station, leave their bikes there, and get a train to work,” she told The New Daily.
Combined with effective 20-minute neighbourhoods, sustainable and cross-city public transport will help to reduce Melbourne’s traffic congestion too, she said.