Cities of Choice: Are People Happy Where They Live | Hero

New BCG Report Reveals the Most Desirable Cities to Live In Around the World

  • London and New York Rank Number One and Two as the Most Desirable Megacenters in 2022, Followed by Shanghai, Beijing, and Los Angeles
  • Only Eight Cities Received Higher Ratings from Their Own Residents in 2022 Than They Did in 2021
  • 48% of City Residents Who Responded to a Global Survey Are Considering Relocating to a New Metropolitan Area

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.

  • Megacenters. London and New York rank number one and two as the most desirable megacenters to live in, repeating their performance from BCG’s 2021 Cities of Choice report. While the two cities performed well in terms of economic opportunities, quality of life, social capital, and interactions with authorities, they scored lower on speed of change, signaling their top spots could be vulnerable in the coming years. As a group, however, megacenters—defined by their populations of more than 10 million people—showed below-average results in the economic opportunities dimension.
  • Cruiser Weights. For cities with an urban population of more than 3 million people, Washington, DC, Singapore, and San Francisco emerged as the group’s leaders. While cruiser weight cities have higher scores in the interactions-with-authorities dimension, they did not fare as well in dimensions such as social capital and speed of change.
  • Middleweights. As a group, middleweight cities—defined as medium-sized cities with an urban population of less than 3 million people—performed the best, with 18 of the 28 cities receiving overall scores above-the-median score. With Copenhagen, Vienna, and Amsterdam taking the top three spots, middleweight cities stand out for receiving high quality-of-life scores.
  • Developing Cities. These cities, characterized by their high growth rate and rapid urbanization, can be distinctly identified for their high speed of change but lower quality of life. Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi lead this group.

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.”

Download the publication here.

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