Assessing quality of living in cities worldwide

Mercer Consulting has published their 2006 Quality of Lving survey. Human Resource wonks will probably find the report highly informative and likely use it as a basis for pegging compensation for expat managers. The top spot in that ranking went to Zurich, Switzerland, followed by Geneva, Vancouver and Vienna while New York was a distant 46th. The criteria used by Mercer included comparative standards of living, personal safety and security, health issues, cleanliness and pollution, and transportation.

All of the above clearly does not imply that New York is losing its edge as a vibrant urban center that constantly rejuvenates itself (and surprises naysayers). But it does leave one wondering as to what is it that attracts people, particularly young folks, in droves to the Big Apple. I don’t know if there has been a poll of graduating seniors on their preferences of places to live but I doubt if Zurich figures in the top 50 let alone numero uno. A visit to any of the cities occupying the exalted top spots (except Vancouver) evokes feelings of ‘staid and stolid’ – in other words boring and dull.

The Mercer report does have another ranking that does the Big Apple proud – the Cost of Living survey. New York comes in a distant 13 behind Tokyo, Osaka and the usual suspects – London, Hong Kong, Milan and Paris. That should please hoteliers and consumers. The latter tend to compare New York to other cities in the US for room rates. That ought to be a non-starter as a yardstick as the logical comparisons are other gateway cities such as London, Paris and Zurich. Even with hotel room prices at an all time high, New York is a distinct bargain when compared to those cities. And that applies not merely to room rates as anyone who has stayed at hotels of all categories in those foreign cities knows that rooms there are barely bigger than closets. Further, New York’s rates are lower than that of those cities despite the steadily escalating costs of real estate, insurance, labor and energy. Could that be ascribed to the US’s edge in “productivity” as former Fed Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan used to imply?

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.