BOSTON—As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease, more residents are moving between cities—50% of urban residents have already relocated to a new city, and 48% are considering moving in the future. These are among the findings of the latest Cities of Choice report released today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The report, titled Cities of Choice: Are People Happy Where They Live?, draws on surveys of more than 50,000 people in 79 cities around the world to determine what makes urban residents want to move, and conversely, what makes them want to stay.
“Relocating is easier now than ever before. The challenge for urban leaders is to determine what makes their residents happy so they can retain current residents and attract new ones,” said Vladislav Boutenko, a BCG managing director and senior partner, and a coauthor of the report. “To do this, urban leaders need to delve into the nuances of how their city works best—or doesn’t.”
The Most Desirable Cities to Live In
The report divides cities into four groups—megacenters, cruiser weights, middleweights, and developing cities—on the basis of their socioeconomic profiles. To become a leader in BCG’s Cities of Choice rankings, cities must demonstrate leadership across five dimensions: economic opportunities, quality of life, social capital, interactions with authorities, and speed of change.
The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Influence on City Ratings
The survey’s findings reveal that the pandemic had a detrimental impact on cities’ scores in 2022, with only eight cities receiving higher ratings from their own residents than they did in 2021.
Residents were less optimistic when assessing their cities, downgrading their ratings across all quality-of-life dimensions. Residents also said they saw fewer attractive career opportunities and reported less certainty in professional self-realization.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has become a strong test of the resilience of most cities. In fact, many cities have not yet fully emerged from it,” said Hans-Paul Bürkner, BCG’s global chair emeritus, and a coauthor of the report. “Leaders must grapple with the question: What are the imperatives for the future to ensure that urban residents will live happily in these cities? People have changed—and cities must too.”
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