Tokyo chosen as most livable city by Monocle; Mercer ranks it among most expensive

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

For the second straight year Tokyo has topped the list of the most livable cities in the annual Quality of Life Survey conducted by the British lifestyle magazine Monocle.

According to the survey recently released on the magazine’s website, Tokyo came first due to “a balance of hi-tech efficiency and traditional neighborhood values.”

“It might be a megalopolis but life in the Japanese capital is a master class in low-rise, leafy, pedestrian-friendly living,” it said.

This year the survey focused not only on how cities function during the day but also evaluated nightlife. Tokyo scored well for having many restaurants that “still serve a good meal after 10 p.m., as well as transport that keeps going throughout the night.”

“Where other cities talk a good game about being 24/7, Tokyo delivers,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief Tyler Brule said in a statement.

This year it also took into account factors such as a conveniently located international airport, which is open 24 hours a day, all-night restaurants, convenience stores, cheap hotel options including capsule hotels, and a well-established public transport system.

Cities in the survey are graded based on metrics such as public-transport networks, international connections, general safety, the quality of urbanism and architecture.

The magazine also said that basics such as punctual transport, convenience and safety, with which Tokyo won the top spot on the 25-city list last year for the first time since the launch of the ranking a decade ago, were “still in place.”

Tokyo was followed by Berlin, Vienna, Copenhagen and Munich. Two other Japanese cities also made it to the top 10. Fukuoka was ranked seventh for its initiatives aimed at becoming “more green, bike-friendly and business savvy,” and Kyoto ranked ninth for its abundance of tourist attractions and greenery, as well as its continuously improving infrastructure.

Meanwhile, global corporate HR consultancy Mercer placed Tokyo among the world’s top-five most expensive cities to live in, at least for expats.

In the firm’s 22nd annual survey determining the quality of expat living, Tokyo rose to fifth place, up six from last year. This year Hong Kong topped the list.

The survey, which ranks the cost of living in about 375 cities around the world, serves as a reference for international firms to calculate allowances for their employees dispatched overseas.

The survey measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, which include accommodation and housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Mercer official Nathalie Constantin-Metral said that Tokyo rose in the ranking due to a stronger yen.

According to Mercer, accommodation was the main factor that drove up the cost of living in all surveyed countries.