People who love classical music, chocolate cake and a safe, comfortable life have known it all along, but now it’s official: The Austrian capital is the world’s most liveable city,according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
While the analysts looked at hard data and gave 100 per cent scores for stability, education, health care and infrastructure, there arealso less obvious reasons why Vienna tops this, and other quality of life rankings.
1. It’s an imperial capital in a small country
Take a stroll around the Ringstrasse boulevard, and you will find one of the world’s finest art history museums, not far from an imposing marble-white Greek temple that is actually Austria’s parliament -next to the elaborately carved facade of the huge town hall.
This splendour seems a bit much for a city of 1.9 million and for acapital of a country of 8.8 million. However, the city was actually built as the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which once numbered more than 52 million people.
Even though the Habsburg monarchy collapsed a century ago, Vienna’s hospitals, universities, operas, cafes and public transportation systems still feel like they were designed for a regional power,rather than a small country.
2. Life is not free, but cheaper than elsewhere
While communal housing may carry a whiff of poverty in other countries, there is no such stigma in Vienna, where 60 per cent of the population owns or rents a subsidized apartment.
This generous housing policy is one key reason why life is stillcheaper here than in various other metropolitan cities, including Zurich, New York, Tokyo, London, Paris, or Brussels.
Vienna’s subsidized housing ranges from architectural gems such ast he 1930s Karl-Marx-Hof that sits in an affluent neighbourhoods.
People can also save on transport and mineral water, as a one-year city-wide public transport pass costs 1 euro (1.14 dollars) a day,while tap water flows directly from the Alps to the city.
3. Vienna looks after you
The Viennese sometimes moan about their city’s large bureaucracy, buton the other hand, this means that seemingly every problem is matched with city officials who deal with it.
When the dog poop problem got out of hand on the side walks a few years ago, city hall got the streets clean again by setting up a team of 450 “waste watchers” who remind dog owners to dispose of the waste and fine them if needed.
If you notice broken street lamps when while walking home at night,you simply call the toll-free “Light Telephone” hotline, which sees to it that the lamp is repaired.
4. Children are welcome
There is also a hotline for parents in search of a day care centre.
The city finances day care for 80,000 children in public and private centres, while parents only pay for the food.
Vienna also feels family friendly because of its countless parks and playgrounds, as well as its 11 swimming pools that are off-limits to anyone but children and their parents.
5. Grapes grows in the city
Vienna considers itself the world’s only metropolis where significant amount of grape juice is produced within the city limits.
On Vienna’s western slopes, residential houses give way to vineyards and to Heurige – inns where vintners sell their new products, along with hearty food such as blood sausages.
Nature is never more than a few bus or subway stops away in Vienna,including the hiking paths of the Vienna Woods, and the side arms of Danube river that are popular with swimmers during summer.
6. Come for the ice cream, not the coffee
Vienna’s famous coffee houses are no reason to pack your belongings and move here. Although they offer a storied atmosphere, their expensive brew is often of a poorer quality than in the foreign coffee chains that have invaded the city.
While few Viennese are passionate about their favourite coffeehouses, the question of the best ice cream parlour will often lead to heated debates over whether the one on Schwedenplatz square or its rival on the Tuchlauben street offers the creamiest vanilla.
The secret in Vienna’s ice cream lies with the Italian families that run the parlours, and with the milk products from the Austrian Alps that go into their products.—dpa