- Marius Dobilas / Shutterstock
- Global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle has released its 2020 Small Cities Index, a list of 20 small cities around the world that promise the best quality of life.
- Monocle evaluated cities with populations of approximately 200,000 people based on statistics such as life expectancy and crime rates, as well as intangible factors like coffee shop hours and natural beauty.
- European cities secured eight out of the top 11 spots.
- Cities in Colorado, Japan and Australia took the remaining three.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle predicts that 2020 will be the “decade of the small city.”
The magazine assembled a list of the 20 best small cities around the world to live in based on quality of life – places where finances go further, professional opportunities abound, commutes aren’t a nightmare, and the social life is vibrant and diverse yet community-focused.
To compile its shortlist, Monocle enlisted a team of global correspondents who reviewed each city based on a combination of statistics and intangible qualities. Those included life expectancy, crime rates, coffee shop hours, and natural beauty. As a last step, they visited top cities to ask locals what they enjoy – and don’t enjoy – about their hometowns, as well as what type of interests each city most suits.
11. Reykjavik, Iceland
- BBandSIRI / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Clean air; rare traffic jams; a burgeoning start-up scene; direct flights from the US and Europe; the world’s northernmost music festival; and nature galore (read: hot springs and waterfalls).
Biggest drawbacks: Overtourism and rising living costs.
Who it’s best for: Architects. “The city requires new buildings – and fast,” says Monocle. Source: Monocle
10. Aachen, Germany
- yotily / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Many spas and pubs; proximity to the Netherlands and Belgium; well-connected on all transportation fronts; a newly renovated airport; historic landmarks and museums; youthful vibe with four colleges and universities; start-up scene; nature galore (read: forests, fields and hot springs).
Biggest drawbacks: Housing prices on the rise.
Who it’s best for: Start-ups. “Well connected and loaded with talented students, it’s a fine launching point for business,” says Monocle.
9. Porto, Portugal
Biggest perks: Historic center in the process of being restored; hub for fashion designers; creative melting pot; buzzy food scene; sunshine; growing expat community.
Biggest drawbacks: Slow pace of restoration.
Who it’s best for: Beach lovers.
- Travel tips for Portugal:
- We asked 20-somethings for their best travel tips for Lisbon. From fairy-tale castles to buzzing nightlife, here’s what they said.
- Portugal is one of the hottest travel destinations, and my 6-day beach-hopping road trip showed me exactly why
- I spent 3 days in Lisbon, Portugal – and I totally get why it’s the most popular travel destination for millennials in 2019
- I visited the Portuguese castle called ‘Disneyland for adults,’ and it’s a magical, real-life fairy-tale setting you can’t miss
8. Innsbruck, Austria
- Shutterstock/Madrugada Verde
Biggest perks: Picturesque old town and historic destinations; Alpine scenery for days; vibrant restaurant and going-out scene; Munich and Bolzano are a two-hour drive away; university town; world-class hiking and skiing.
Biggest drawbacks: Not many expats yet.
Who it’s best for: Skiers and snowboarders.
7. Bordeaux, France
Biggest perks: World-renowned wine region; neoclassical architecture; more affordable and relaxed than Paris; tech scene; new cultural hub featuring contemporary art; bike-friendly city.
Biggest drawbacks: History of traffic jams and abandoned warehouses; an outgoing mayor.
Who it’s best for: Cyclists. “Besides the city, they can enjoy the vineyard-laden routes,” says Monocle.
6. Bolzano, Italy
- pixelshop / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Top-tier wine region; wealthy autonomous region; tech start-ups supported by healthy grant system; reliable transport; network of bike paths; surrounded by scenic resorts and ski slopes.
Biggest drawbacks: No passenger flights to nearby airport.
Who it’s best for: Wine-lovers. “Alto Adige white wine is among the best in Italy – and that’s saying something,” says Monocle.
5. Chigasaki, Japan
- Sakarin Sawasdinaka / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Quieter than Tokyo and just an hour away by train; proximity to the mountains and ocean; easy to bike on streets and to the beach; famous for its surfing; restaurants throughout the whole city; wide range of international cuisine; mild temperatures; safe.
Biggest drawbacks: Reasonably priced coworking spaces and offices.
Who it’s best for: Young families. “The council has introduced initiatives for working mothers and it’s a very safe city,” says Monocle.
4. Hobart, Australia
- Janelle Lugge / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Views of Mount Wellington; dramatically lit port city; mild temperatures; affordable; relaxed suburban atmosphere. Tasmania’s economy is the second-best in Australia, and Australians are moving to work here.
Biggest drawbacks: Transportation has a ways to go, especially when it comes to biking; lack of medium-density housing.
Who it’s best for: Students and researchers. “The University of Tasmania is a leader in marine and Antarctic science,” says Monocle.
3. Bergen, Norway
- Marius Dobilas / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Gateway to western Norway’s fjords; an abundance of outdoor activities (swimming in seawater pools, hiking, winter train journeys, nearby ski resorts); new hotels and restaurants to escape to when the rain comes; biker-friendly; a blossoming creative and cultural scene; studio spaces in converted warehouses.
Biggest drawbacks: Not many shopping options or coffee shops that open early. Rain is common.
Who it’s best for: Culture lovers. “Bergenfest is a world-leading summer music festival, while Kode and the recently renovated Natural History Museum don’t disappoint on the cultural venue front,” says Monocle.
2. Boulder, USA
- Jeff Zehnder/Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Early-opening coffee shops; rugged Rocky Mountains scenery; 300-plus days of sunshine; Beat generation history; work-to-live mindset; strong sense of community; university town with 17 federally funded labs; over 44,400 acres of parkland; home to well-known advertising and design firms.
Biggest drawbacks: Road congestion during commuting hours.
Who it’s best for: Media. “Boulder is served by Denver television and radio stations, newspapers and other media,” says Monocle.
1. Lausanne, Switzerland
- Mihai-Bogdan Lazar / Shutterstock
Biggest perks: Esteemed universities in science and engineering as well as hotel management; relaxed atmosphere; elegant city design; close to Lake Geneva and the mountains; home to the International Olympic Committee; abundant professional opportunities; new subway line opening in 2026; train connections to Milan and Paris.
Biggest drawbacks: Lack of affordable housing.
Who it’s best for: Those looking for a diverse city. “Lausanne is an international city, despite its size, and you’ll hear French, German and Italian spoken, plus English in accents from Australian to Canadian,” says Monocle.