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Melbourne named Australia’s most liveable city, Adelaide falls to 30th place

Adelaide has plummeted 27 spots in the global liveability rankings, and harsh Covid restrictions are to blame. But that’s crazy – how did Melbourne finish above us?

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Adelaide has tumbled down the list of the world’s most liveable cities, with Covid-19 restrictions blamed for a steep fall from 3rd to 30th in the annual global ranking.

But bizarrely, Melbourne is ranked miles ahead of Adelaide in 10th – despite the world’s longest lockdown and extreme restrictions that drove the Vics to despair.

The Global Liveability Index, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), assesses more than 170 cities across the globe on healthcare, culture, infrastructure, stability, education and environment.

In 2021, Adelaide took out third spot behind Auckland (NZ) and Osaka (Japan) as lockdowns saw Sydney and Melbourne plummet down the list.

At the time, the EIU noted the large contingent of Australian and New Zealand cities in the global top 10, alongside cities from Japan and Switzerland.

“Six of the top 10 cities in the March 2021 survey are in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live relatively normal lives,” it said in its report.


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But the EIU said Adelaide’s hesitance to ease Covid-19 restrictions in 2021 was to blame for its liveability decline in the 2022 report.

South Australia’s restrictions remained in place for the larger portion of 2021 before tightening over the Christmas period in response to open borders and a wave of new cases.

This, the EIU said, placed Adelaide behind European cities which eased restrictions in early 2021.

The Austrian city of Vienna, which was named most liveable in 2018 and 2019, has reclaimed top spot after slipping to 12th place last year.

“A rollback of Covid-19 restrictions has translated into liveability rankings resembling those seen before the pandemic,” the EIU said.

“Western European and Canadian cities dominate the top of our rankings. Life is almost back to normal in these cities on account of high Covid-19 vaccination rates and the easing of restrictions.”

Melbourne was named the highest-ranked Australian city at 10th place, while Adelaide was ranked 30th.

“In Australia, some states were slower to lift restrictions than others,” the report said.

“As a result, Perth and Adelaide have lost ground since last year, and Melbourne is once again Australia’s highest-ranked city.

“Adjusting policy dynamically will remain key to staying on top.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas said it “wasn’t entirely surprising” that Adelaide had slipped down the table, given the state’s Covid restrictions in 2021.

“South Australians generally are very proud of the fact we do live in one of the most liveable cities in the world,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“The fact that it slipped back is unfortunate but I suspect we will creep back up the table again now that the worst of Covid has hopefully passed.”

State opposition leader David Spiers said it was “disappointing but not surprising” SA had failed, calling for a greater focus on environmentalism to help Adelaide rise back up the ranks.

“If we want to get our title as Australia’s most liveable city back, we need a government that is serious about practical environmental initiatives,” Mr Spiers said.

Property Council of Australia executive director Daniel Gannon said Adelaide should use the moment as an opportunity to regain the world’s attention – while taking a jab at Melbourne’s return to the top.

“It’s almost laughable that Melbourne has finished higher on this index given Victorians spent almost 300 days locked down compared with 10 days in South Australia,” Mr Gannon said.

“Throughout the pandemic, Adelaide’s value proposition as an attractive place to live, work, invest and play has become more pronounced – and we don’t need a ranking to support or celebrate this change.”

Mr Gannon said “thousands of Australians” relocating from Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide, with opportunities to work from home in high-flying industries, was good news for the city’s future.

“Adelaide continues to attract future-proofed industries including AI, cyber security and data analytics, with tech-titans like Amazon, Google and Salesforce flocking to our city,” he said.

“If capital goes where it’s welcome, then we’ve been doing something right in a policy and economic sense.”

In April, the Adelaide City Council said it wanted to develop a high-level plan as part of a strategy to turn Adelaide into the world’s most liveable city.

Population growth, another city high school, more affordable housing and an overhaul of public transport would be examined.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said the council needed to strategically invest “in making Adelaide a vibrant and culturally alive city where our people have the jobs, opportunities and lifestyle they want in Australia’s most liveable city”.

Originally published as Adelaide tumbles down the list of the world’s most liveable cities – due to Covid-19 restrictions


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