The Six Cities We Want To Move To In 2017
Why not relocate to Barcelona? Photograph by fotoVoyager/Getty Images
Tired of London? Done with NYC? These are the places to be right now.
Soft, hard, scrambled or fried? The truth is no one really knows how Brexit will play out. One thing we do know for sure, however, is that major financial groups such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Lloyd’s Of London are already contingency planning by moving jobs to Frankfurt, Dublin and Brussels. London’s position as a trading hub linking New York and Tokyo can no longer be taken for granted, and numerous young pretenders are trying to woo its workforce.
Combine radical shocks such as Brexit and Trumpism with festering issues including exorbitant rent, gridlocked traffic and poor air quality, and you start to understand the challenge faced by the traditional global capitals. International HR firm Mercer recently released its influential Quality Of Living Survey and London, New York and Tokyo were notable absences from the top 20. Is it finally time to pack our bags and seek a better life on the beach or bay? Here are six cities that combine charm and commerce.
Photograph by Ms Sandra Raccanello/SIME/4Corners
Germany’s fifth largest city and commercial heartland is set to benefit the most from Brexit. It is already home to the European Central Bank, and is hoping to become the new base for London’s European Banking Authority. No wonder Frankfurt-am-Main (on the Main) is known as Mainhattan, with its gleaming financial district already housing 200 banks and 60,000 bankers (soon to be bolstered by Goldman Sachs’ London exodus). That’s the commerce taken care of, but what about the charm? It’s true that Frankfurt is seen as the buttoned-up cousin of nocturnal Berlin or buxom, Bavarian Munich, but it also has a chocolate-box medieval old town, a lively restaurant and bar scene, and the second largest cache of museums in Germany – only Berlin beats it. Frankfurt’s transport links are also second to none, with the bustling airport a mere 15-minute taxi ride from the city centre, so even if you do find it a bit stiff at times, you’re perfectly placed for European getaways.
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Photograph by Turismo de Lisboa
Few countries took more of a pounding in the Eurozone financial crisis than Portugal, yet it has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance – Lisbon was named European Entrepreneurial Region Of The Year in 2015. This dramatic turnaround is testament to the city’s startup culture, which has spawned ventures such as Unbabel, a translation service, golf app Hole19 and Chic By Choice fashion rental and now rivals anywhere in Europe. Cheap rents, solid tech infrastructure such as fast fibre broadband and healthy venture capital mean the City of Seven Hills is entering a new golden age. Luring Web Summit (unkindly known as Glastonbury for geeks) from its home in Dublin was quite the coup in 2016. It brought 50,000 members of the world’s tech community to the city, including Google, Facebook and Amazon, and contributed an estimated €200m to the economy. Labour costs are approximately a third lower than Berlin, which means startups can now be found in grand 16th-century palazzos that were built when Lisbon was the richest city on Earth, or in the vast industrial neighbourhoods along the Tagus River. Quality of life is also up there, with bustling, rejuvenated food halls such as Mercado da Ribeira or nocturnal districts such as Bairro Alto.
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Photograph by Mr Albert Normandin/Tourism Vancouver
The US’s pain could be Canada’s gain, specifically Vancouver’s. The city has emulated San Francisco’s silicon dream, with one-third of its office space dedicated to tech and more than 75,000 people working in the sector. A short two-hour flight from Silicon Valley itself, many tech giants such as Amazon already have regional hubs in the city and immigration lawyers report a boom in enquiries post-Trump. Vancouver is also one of the most scenic cities in the world, rivalling Rio and Sydney with its expansive coastline, vistas over Vancouver Island and easy access to untamed wilderness. The Sea-To-Sky highway to ski resort Whistler is one of the best drives in continental North America, and means you can be on the beach in the morning and at your weekend chalet in the afternoon. Vancouver is also one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Canada, which contributes to a thriving food scene, with Chinese dim sum and Japanese izakayas to rival the best in the West (or the East, for that matter).
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Photograph by Mr Stefan Cristian Cioata/Getty Images
Hygge hysteria gripped the world late last year, with endless books and articles churned out on the Danish concept of cosiness. This must have led to some head scratching in Copenhagen, where hygge has long been a way of life and Københavnere (Copenhageners) have consistently been found to be among the happiest people on the planet. It’s not just cosiness they have to be happy about, either. The city is one of the most ecologically friendly in the world, famed for its bicycle culture and clean air, and is on track to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Business Insider’s recent Sociable Cities study ranked Copenhagen sixth out of 40 globally, and this may explain the record-breaking number of foreign nationals who entered the Danish job market in 2016. The place has brains as well as beauty, though. Copenhagen Business School is the only Nordic contender on the QS World University Rankings, beating academic giants such as Columbia, Chicago and Singapore.
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Photograph by Ms Gaby Wojciech/Getty Images
San Francisco makes much of its Bay Area. Well, Auckland has two. Straddling the thin isthmus that gives New Zealand’s North Island its enviably waspish waist, Auckland is a city of big skies and gleaming sea. The waterfront has been heavily developed in recent years, meaning former fishing wharfs and docks are now top-notch restaurants and nightspots. It also gives easy access to the Hauraki Gulf’s numerous islands, not least Waiheke, famed for its world-class wineries and sailing. No wonder Auckland ranks third globally in Mercer’s Quality Of Living Survey of 450 cities. The city’s economy is also outstripping the rest of the country, with record-breaking growth in its retail sector sitting at almost four times the national average, meaning it attracts almost as many economic migrants as the rest of the country combined (32,000 annually, compared with 37,000 nationwide). Could you become one of them?
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The long-term benefits of hosting the Olympic Games are still up for debate. Athens? Not so much. London? Yet to be seen. Barcelona’s benefits, however, are beyond doubt. The 1992 Games transformed the city both physically and spiritually, removing the industrial wharfs that clad the coast and giving the city its beaches back. The tourism explosion that followed means Barcelona’s 1.6 million residents now welcome more than 32 million visitors a year, who flock to the city for a bit of Iberian sun, Catalan cuisine and more than a dash of Gaudí architecture. New low-cost airline Level is only going to increase its attraction, connecting the city directly with LA and Oakland with flights as low as $149 (£115). This gives Barcelona a direct line to the West Coast tech giants, although those guys probably aren’t afraid to spend a few extra dollars on business class. The city was also chosen as the latest European outpost of Soho House members’ club last year, which inhabits an 18th-century apartment block overlooking the Port Vell marina in the Gothic Quarter.