Contractor destinations: Where are the most – and least – liveable cities in 2023?

Contractor destinations

7th July 2023

Contracting overseas provides you with the opportunity to see the world, however, with so much choice it’s not always easy to make a decision about your next move. Fortunately, help is at hand; we’ve used the Economist Intelligence Unit Index of the best and worst cities in which to live in 2023 to help you make your mind up.

At a broad level, living conditions around the world appear to have fully recovered from the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with scores across key categories including stability, healthcare, culture and environment and education and infrastructure bouncing back since their nadir two to three years ago. And, encouragingly, the Index also suggests that life in some of the bigger cities is of better quality than at any time in the past 15 years.

Nine of the top ten cities on the list are categorised as small-to-midsized, with a number of larger locations dropping further down the rankings. London has fallen by 12 places to 46th position while New York has placed in 69th, 10 places lower than in the last Index. At the other end of the scale, the biggest climbers are both Wellington and Auckland, which have both seen the benefit of New Zealand ‘reopening’ since the pandemic. Education and healthcare score improvements in cities across Africa, Asia and the Middle East have contributed to a number of major locations in these areas climbing up the list.


The Austrian capital has held onto its position as the world’s most liveable city after slipping down the rankings in 2021, when its lively cultural scene was flattened as a result of the pandemic. The city has made eight of the past 10 indices and ranks top, or near the top of every metric measured on the list.


The same is also true of Copenhagen, another city to consistently rank near the top of the liveability Index. Contractors operating here benefit from extremely high quality of life scores and industries including pharmaceuticals and life sciences regularly source overseas skills to boost their domestic teams. Danish firms also pay, on average, the fifth highest rates in the world so working here can also be highly lucrative.


Melbourne has reclaimed its place in the top five of the liveability Index after bouncing up and down over the past few years following Covid-led challenges to its healthcare sector. A number of major banking and mining firms are based here so contractors operating in these industries are likely to find a number of opportunities.


Like its domestic counterpart, Sydney has also regained its place in the top five following a turbulent few years and has claimed the spot previously held by Frankfurt. The city ranks just below Melbourne as a result of its lower culture and entertainment score, however, it’s home to an even greater number of major businesses across a wider range of cities than its (relative) neighbour.


Vancouver rounds out the top five and regularly ranks near the top of almost every quality of life and liveability index. The western Canadian city benefits from its outstanding geography and lively arts and culture scene with healthcare and construction professionals particularly sought after here as a result of growing skills shortages.

At the other end of the scale, the bottom three is formed – unsurprisingly – by cities impacted by ongoing upheaval. Damascus has retained its position as the EIU’s least liveable city for more than a decade now and Tripoli stays second bottom, although the gap between here and the Syrian capital has increased. Kyiv also makes the bottom three as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, most cities near the bottom of the Index have seen their scores improve, with major leaps in healthcare and education systems being noted in the likes of Lagos and Algiers.

Contractor destinations

Wherever you choose to operate it’s crucial that you’re aware of domestic tax and compliance regulations and, if you’re at all unsure about your legal status, then it’s worth partnering with an expert. While requirements vary from country to country, one consistent factor is that governments around the world are attempting to claw back revenue lost to tax evasion and fraud, and won’t hesitate to punish those who break the law, either intentionally or unintentionally. If you need expert help to operate compliantly in whichever contractor destination you choose, then speak to our team before it’s too late.

Access the full version of the EIU Liveability Index here

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