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Feel the love: Time Out City Life Index reveals that Melbourne is the happiest city in the world

Rose Johnstone
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Rose Johnstone

It’s said that Melburnians can be a little smug sometimes – but who can blame us when we’ve got world-class dining options, a rich arts landscape and a killer live music scene? The Time Out City Life Index has revealed that Melbourne is not only one of the most exciting cities in the world for culture and going out; it’s also one of the happiest. Basically, we’re more than a little bit in love with our city, and we don’t care who knows about it.

So here’s how the second annual Time Out City Life Index worked. We polled 15,000 people from 32 cities around the world. We asked them questions related to their lifestyle habits and their feelings about life in their city, ranging from how often they go out for dinner to how they’d rate their city for affordability, safety and friendliness. Then, we assessed their answers across seven different categories:

  • Food & Drink – whether the city offers a good range of eating options
  • Culture – how often people engage with arts and culture, and how highly they rate it
  • Relationships & Community – whether it’s easy to make friends and fall in love, and how welcoming the city feels
  • Neighbourhoods – whether locals love their local communities and which neighbourhoods are overrated
  • Affordability – whether people can get by OK
  • Happiness – how satisfied or stressed locals are in their city
  • Liveability – whether it’s easy to get around and find something to do and see.

Among all the cities surveyed, Melbourne came in at number 4, narrowly missing out to Chicago (who also took out the top spot last year), Porto and New York. That said, there was one factor where we came out on top: happiness. How exactly was that measured, you ask? For a start, nine out of ten Melburnians said they felt happy in the past 24 hours and 89 per cent said they enjoy living here. Two out of three people said they find it easy to make friends here, and while we admit things can get a little expensive sometimes, we still ranked high for affordability.

But here's the big factor that catapulted Melbourne to fourth place: food and drink. Globally, the survey found that all the highest-ranked cities have super high ratings for their bar and restaurant scene. 80 per cent of Melburnians rated their local bar and food scene as outstanding, and 74 per cent of Melburnians agreed that “there’s always something to do or see”. It’s no surprise then that Melbourne ranks second for ‘inspiration’. We’re spurred on by a sense that there’s always something new to discover.

Sadly, the story isn’t the same in Sydney. Our northern friends ranked at 28 on the list, beating Dubai, Boston, Singapore and Istanbul. Only 37 per cent of Sydneysiders had positive feelings towards the dining scene, and only 28 per cent felt as excited about Sydney's cultural offerings as Melburnians do. 

So any big surprises? It comes as no shock that Fitzroy is the most-loved suburb; but unfortunately for southsiders, St Kilda was ranked as the most overrated suburb in Melbourne. When asked why, you told us that the suburb is “busy and expensive,” “filthy”, full of “wankers in active wear” and “backpackers” and doesn’t have a “proper beach”. We’ll let you battle that one out in the comments.

TL;DR: Melbourne is full of happy, social, food-obsessed people who can’t get enough of everything the city has to offer. Also, we really hate backpackers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

For more insights into the City Life Index, check out some global stats below:

Time Out City Life Index results from around the world

Check out the whole index here

Find out why Chicago topped the list for the second year in a row.

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