31 May 2024

Canberra named as second best city to live in the world - so why didn't we win?

| Sally Hopman
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Aerial view of city

It’s a great view from the air but, to understand why Canberra has been named the second best city in the world to live in, it helps if you’re more grounded. Photo: James Coleman.

Don’t tell anyone*, but apparently Canberra has been named the second best city in the world when it comes to quality of life.

Depending on the sort of person you are, the first question would have to be: “What was the best one?”.

It was Grenoble in France. Hands up if you’ve even heard of it, been there and got the snowdome, or just think it sounds like somewhere else.

Apparently it is most famous for its advances in nuclear science. Yep, that makes for a great quality of life.

Or if you’re the other sort of person, your first response could well be: “Duh”. Where else in the world could you live and breathe politics so closely (still debating Hansard-like whether that’s good or bad) or know not to say Manooka?

What a blessing, too, to live in a place that values the new so much over the old. Who needs historic (read 1960s) buildings when you can have those new shiny ones that all look the same. That help you meet new people when you get lost trying to find your place among the other 99 identical apartments in your block. No place to park anything, like a car, but that’s OK because you can aways take the tram pram.

So, it’s OK if you take this study with a grain of salt, preferably chicken salt from that awesome chicken place in, yes, Canberra.

Grenoble as the best? Seriously? Sure, it’s in France and they have such friendly, stylish people – even if they don’t speak our language – but the idea of it having as many nuclear laboratories there as we have potholes here is just a little suss.

READ ALSO New photographic exhibition shows Canberra region’s best, natural side

Called the Oxford Economic Global Cities Report, the survey based its ranking on how locals saw their country. Indicators included life expectancy, income equality, recreational sites – and Internet speed.

Chances are, if you’ve lived in Canberra for a while, the place works for you. Sort of a have-lanyard, will-stay attitude.

There’s little pollution, people, on a whole, are kind to each other unless they’re referring to or are politicians, and when it comes to complaining about roundabouts, they’re straight into it.

Then it gets a little weird. It says one of Canberra’s main weaknesses was that it experienced more natural disasters. How on earth can we be blamed for that?

Flooding caused because way too many people left their taps running? Wildfires because lightning struck where it wasn’t supposed to? Drought? See flooding.

Apparently the study is based on the well-being of its people. Perhaps it wandered about saying to people “are you being well?”. How else would you respond other than “yes well, thank you” because we are renowned for our niceness – again pollies excepted.

In case you were wondering, here’s the Top 10:

  1. Grenoble, France
  2. Canberra, Australia
  3. Bern, Switzerland
  4. Bergen, Norway
  5. Basel, Switzerland
  6. Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  7. Reykjavik, Iceland
  8. Zurich, Switzerland
  9. Gent, Belgium
  10. Nantes, France

* We don’t want you tell anyone about Canberra’s ranking because other people, maybe even from Grenoble, will want to move here.

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I have visited 69 countries. I have lived in 3 countries for over 2 years in each. I have toured for over 100,000 kms in Australia. I would not live anywhere else other than Canberra. No contest!

HiddenDragon8:16 pm 04 Jun 24

The list of the top 10 cities overall from Oxford Economics starts with New York and has Melbourne, at no. 9, as the sole Australian entrant – if there’s a common denominator to the list which has Canberra as no. 2, it’s probably something along the lines of Paul Keating’s comment about “camping out”, with a knack for making a virtue of necessity – and the household income to keep comfortably warm in winter.

Please don’t make me laugh

* We don’t want you tell anyone about Canberra’s ranking because other people, maybe even from Grenoble, will want to move here.

Why Would they Move Here?,, let’s see, in Grenoble, they have a Choice they can have Wood Fireplaces, Or GAS cook top. They are not Shackled, to a Draconian Government.

But here in Canberra No, your Rights have been Stripped, Removed,, No Gas Cook top Or Wood fire Place, Yet there is no plan B, Belconnen 2020, Summer Storm, Wiped out Power to quite a few Suburbs,

We have Four Small children. Had no Power for over 144 Hours, 6 Days, But we had a Gas Cook top, and Instantaneous Gas Hot Water System That Worked, ( Thanks to a Small Petrol Powered Generator ).

What will Happen in Winter when we are all Forced to Rely Only on the Electricity Grid, and it Fails, How do we Heat the Home or Cook the Food, Or heaven forbid attempt to have a Hot Shower??

In winter, I think all your extra capital letters will shrink and your sentences will look normal.

If Canberra has anything good about it, it’s because of whatever influence remains of the values of old. However, as progressive values continue to get stronger and stronger, as is the case since around 2016, let’s say, Canberra will eventually go down the drain, because you can’t build a house with 1 + 1 = 3, no matter what progressive nonsense you come up with.

Evan Williams10:49 am 03 Jun 24

Hmm, so we came second in the world and our opposition trys to tell us that we are a mess in need of a new government to get us back to a life of prosperity, love and joy. Interesting list though, having visited a few of them I found Basel a curious one!

I get very frustrated by people who say Canberra is boring. What are you looking for to make it not boring? What have other places got to offer than Canberra doesn’t?

We don’t have ocean beaches, but here is a bit of what we do have: cinemas, shops (both large shopping centres and small local ones), several golf courses, live theatre, lots of local and higher-level sports competitions, indoor and outdoor rock-climbing facilities, more restaurants and coffee shops “than you can poke a stick at”, regular food and craft markets, many festivals throughout the year, the annual show, so many national icons to visit (Parliament House, Museum of Australian Democracy, The National Gallery (with regularly changing exhibitions), The Royal Australian Mint, The National Portrait Gallery, Questacon, Australian War Memorial, National Museum, The National Library, and others (many of which are actually free to visit)), many walking tracks in the outdoor surrounds, several lakes and the water sports that can be done on them, Treetops Adventures, many kilometres of mountain bike trails, lots of bike paths, etc, etc, etc.

Not only are there lots of things to do, the roads are generally not too crowded. (There are also public transport options available but these are not as great as they are in larger population areas.)

It’s time to stop repeating a tag-line that you heard someone utter 20 years ago.

Seriously, if you can’t find something to do here, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Nobody would ever want to move here unless for a job. It’s boring and very overtaxed. The dining is terrible. It’s easy, I suppose.

Heywood Smith11:02 am 03 Jun 24

Why are you still here? You sound like a party animal who should be lapping it up at the crazy pool parties in Vegas!

You must live a sad, lonely life. I hope the salary is worth it.

Gregg Heldon3:53 pm 02 Jun 24

Canberra is a very isolating and lonely city. Also expensive and samey. And snobbish. People are less kind than you think.
But of course, other people will no doubt have different experiences and opinions. And that’s okay.

Keyboard Warrior2:38 pm 02 Jun 24

These things are so subjective, Melbourne won it a couple of years in a row before Dan Andrews made it into government. Now they don’t even rate in the top 50.

Evan Williams10:44 am 03 Jun 24

Dan must have been God like to do that

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