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Auckland on a sunny day
Auckland on a sunny day

What are these people on?

Auckland has its charms. There are great beaches in the metropolitan area and hundreds of even better ones within two hours. The surrounding countryside is often stunning and access is generally easy. The climate is good; not too hot in summer, not too cold in winter. Most of the city is mercifully free of serious traffic jams during the short morning and afternoon rush hours. There is good food and great restaurants, what’s more food and restaurant prices compare reasonably with elsewhere. Best of all, Auckland has relatively little pollution. The people are generally friendly and there’s an easy-going atmosphere.


Auckland’s overpriced houses are poorly built by international standards. Despite the balmy climate, Auckland houses are usually cold and draughty in winter. Town planning seems non-existent, Most of the city looks like it was designed by someone playing Sim City while drunk (my daughter pointed that out when she was 12 years old). Many houses are in what were back gardens.

The city’s architecture is shocking. Industrial areas are worse.The most noticeable building in town (Sky Tower) is a monument to gambling. Taxes are ridiculously high even for people on modest incomes. Public transport is a joke. There aren’t that many great jobs. Auckland is an artistic and cultural wasteland; at least compared to other New Zealand cities.


If Auckland is such a great place, why are so many people in a hurry to leave? Every week a plane takes off from Auckland airport full of people leaving to live in Sydney (statistically speaking). If anything, migration to the rest of New Zealand is higher.

The truth is that Auckland is a great place to live by any standard. But I can name at least four places elsewhere in New Zealand that people living in this country regard as better. (Judging by the numbers leaving Auckland each year, many Aucklanders think so too). Pretty much all the good things applying to Auckland apply just as well to most other New Zealand cities. But more importantly, they have fewer of the bad things.

On a good day Wellington is a world beater
On a good day Wellington is a world beater

BusinessWeek rated Wellington number 12 in the world (Mercer, a human resource consulting firm wrote the list).

New Zealand’s wet and windy capital has a vibrancy Auckland lacks, great theatres, museums and art galleries. Even the library is special.

It comes alive at night while Auckland tends to shut down shortly after dark. Wellington is far more beautiful than Auckland and, when the weather is good, it is possibly the world’s most attractive capital city. To use a cliché Wellington is small but well-formed. It also has lots of great buildings and, unlike Auckland, a clearly defined centre. Most important of all, people earn higher salaries in Wellington but house prices are considerably lower than Auckland which means people can have better lives. Everyone in Wellington seems to know everyone else. That includes the members of Parliament. Wellington has easy access to some wonderful countryside and is the home of Peter Jackson’s film studio and related creative industries. There’s also a higher density of knowledge workers in Wellington.

Christchurch, which doesn’t rank, (possibly too small to qualify for the list), is also a more livable city than Auckland. I’ve not been to Dunedin, Nelson, Queenstown or Wanaka, but these towns and cities are equally highly rated by New Zealanders. There are others.

I’ve lived in London (ranked 38), Wellington, Sydney (ranked 10) and Auckland. I rank Wellington as a more livable city than Auckland. Mind you, there’s far more work for me in Auckland than Wellington which has to be a consideration. London would be at the bottom of my list. Like BusinessWeek/Mercer I’d rank Auckland ahead of Sydney, but the gap is closer than implied by Auckland’s fifth place and Sydney’s 10th sport. The two cities are similar in many respects. But that’s me.

What do you think? Is Auckland the world’s fifth best place to live. Are there other cities in Australasia that rank higher?

The World’s Best Places to Live 2008 – BusinessWeek

World’s Most Livable Cities

3 thoughts on “BusinessWeek rates Auckland the world’s fifth best place to live in 2008

  1. Hello Bill,
    I am from Singapore. From the beautiful pictures that you have posted, I would really like to visit New Zealand one of these days. I have brought my family to the States and Hong Kong in the past. Hopefully, I can visit your country in the near future.


  2. New Zealand is well worth a visit. Unless you want to ski, I’d recommend coming in Summer or Autumn, more or less December to April, when the weather tends to be better.

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