S.F. Falls to 34th Best City in the World to Live in

But it's still the top-ranked in the U.S., depressingly enough. Western European and Canadian cities dominate the global consulting firm Mercer's well-respected list once again.

Hello from space, you adorable little mediocrity, you. (Beth LaBerge/David Rumsey)

Maybe it’s our $3,690 one-bedrooms filled with period details or our illustrious transit network, but San Francisco has tumbled out of the top 30 spots on consulting firm Mercer‘s 2019 ranking of global cities by quality of life.

Plucky S.F. was at no. 3o only last year before falling to 34th place this go-round. Perversely, we’re still considered the best place to live in the United States, ahead of Boston (36), Honolulu (37), New York (44), Chicago (49), Washington (53), Philadelphia (54), Los Angeles (66), and Detroit (72, the lowest-ranking U.S. city on the list of 231).

The fact that neither Oakland nor San Jose is even on there at all implies that this is more of a metropolitan-area kind of ranking as opposed to a comprehensive list of cities. Nor it there a strict population-level cut-off point for consideration, as San Diego, Phoenix, and Austin aren’t included, and they all have more people than S.F. does. 

It’s a fairly Eurocentric roster, too. For the 10th year running, Vienna was No. 1 in the world, with Zurich at No. 2, and the third-place spot a tie among Vancouver, Auckland, and Munich. Canadian cities are well-represented, with Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary ahead of S.F.

But a few beautiful and/or well-run places — such as Paris, London, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Rio de Janeiro — all fall lower than San Francisco. If you really feel like punching down, know that war- and earthquake-ravaged cities such as Damascus, Port-au-Prince, and Khartoum all rank in the bottom 10, with Baghdad in very last place some 16 years after the American military destroyed Iraq. See the full list here.

In contrast to those clickbait-y surveys that determine that San Francisco is the “26th most sinful city” in the United States — Surprise: No. 1 was Vegas! — this measurement is derived from sounder criteria, in a survey conducted from September to November 2018. According to Marketwatch, Mercer looks at “recreation, housing, economy, public services and transport, political and social environment, education, medical and health considerations, and the natural environment” to arrive at its conclusions. Because it’s a consulting firm, Mercer does so specifically to “enable multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments,” since “quality of living is an essential component of a city’s attractiveness for businesses and mobile talent.”

In other words, San Francisco is slightly less attractive to these people than it was last year. So, maybe, yea?

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