The stereotype of New Yorkers is that they think they are at the center of the universe, and that theirs is the only part of the universe worth living in. Turns out, much of the rest of the world shares that opinion. New York City ranks first in the Ipsos Top Cities list, edging out Abu Dhabi and London as the most desirable metro to live, work and visit. Paris comes in at number four and Tokyo, Zurich and Sydney tied for fifth place.
Three other North American cities with a strong showing include Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver which rank nine, 11 and 12 respectively. The full results of the Ipsos 2017 Top Cities ranking are available online.
Not surprisingly, respondents in the U.S. and Canada viewed their nation’s cities very positively. New York tops the list of favorite cities among U.S. residents. Other North American cities dominate the list in the U.S. The two Canadian cities in the poll, Toronto and Vancouver, topped the list among Canadians.
Notably absent is Chicago, whose failed attempt to host the 2016 Olympics was one of many attempts to bolster the city’s global reputation. Five U.S. cities were among the choices in this survey. Of those listed, Chicago was the only North American city that failed to crack the 10 of the U.S. residents surveyed. Chicago was also the lowest ranked of the seven North American cities in the global survey list.
This survey-based ranking addresses how cities are perceived. Other rankings, such as the World’s Best City Brands report from Vancouver-based consultancy Resonance, take a more data-driven look at the factors that make great places to live, work and play.
Chris Fair, president and CEO of Resonance, told GenPop it’s important to have both kinds of rankings. “You need both sides of the coin to see where perception aligns with reality.” Some cities, he says, need to work on their “product” – the city itself – and some need to work on the marketing of the city to build reputation both locally and globally.
New York is well known as a center of commerce, he says. Chicago might have a great business climate and world class museums, but its reputation is hurt by a lack of familiarity as compared to its coastal counterparts, and by a continued crime problem. (Even Australia’s version of “60 Minutes” did a recent segment on the violence in Chicago.) Meanwhile, a city like Vancouver, Fair says, has a reputation as a great place to live and visit but needs to bolster its economic reputation and reality.
Each of the cities in the ranking has its own strengths and it’s rare for a city to rank well on all three metrics. While it might be a bit of a popularity contest, reputations do matter.
“Perception of place drives where talent, tourism and investment flow in the world,” said Fair.
That’s especially true in an era where the knowledge economy is growing in prominence. Jobs are often less tied to physical location and natural resources. Therefore, companies and talent have more freedom to locate in the cities of their choosing. Ironically, that tends to lead to even greater clustering in the economic centers of the world, both new and old.
Generational shifts are apparent in the list. Sydney appears to have more limited appeal to younger people. While it is the second-favorite city for Baby Boomers and third-favorite for Generation X, Millennials (aged 22-37) rank it as their ninth-favorite, while the iGen (aged 21 and under) put it tenth. Other cities that have greater youth appeal include Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin.
This survey was conducted among more than 18,000 adults in 26 countries who were asked their top choices among 60 cities. Each city was scored in each of the three categories, places to live, places to do business, and places to visit. The three scores were combined into an overall Top Cities global ranking.