London more innovative than Silicon Valley, reveals 2thinknow report

London at dusk

London is the most innovative city in the world for the second year running, according to innovation data agency 2thinknow – and Brexit apparently has something to do with it (oddly enough).

The  10th annual Innovation Cities Data index shows the UK capital ahead of New York, Tokyo and Silicon Valley (San Francisco-San Jose) in the top 4:

The Melbourne consultancy classified 500 cities into four innovation “bands”, or conditions conducive to creating innovation in a city: ‘Nexus’, ‘Hub’,  ‘Node’ and ‘Upstart’.

On London’s regained place at the top, 2thinknow’s Director of Data Christopher Hire suggested that Brexit had a part to play, or at least the democratic process :

London’s clear repeat victory indicates a strong view of innovation and focus on observation of democracy, in embracing the results of ‘Brexit’ – showcasing the importance of an orderly acceptance of the results of democratic process, and a new British ‘stiff upper lip’ resilience to unprecedented change.

Embracing results? A new British ‘stiff upper lip’? I think he’s being kind!

But the EU may yet have the final say, with Austrian and French capitals also in the top 10 and marked by Hire as ones to watch:

Vienna and Paris have a long history of resurgence and innovation, so we shouldn’t rule out their eventual climb to number one global city in a few years, proving that innovation can come from cities all over the world.”

Bermuda is the most expensive country in the world, says MoveHub

A beach in Bermuda

Bermuda is many people’s vision of marine paradise: deep blue ocean, sweeping beaches and shorts of the dazzling variety that became a 90s fashion trend. But it’s unlikely to attract digital nomads any time soon.

According to UK-based relocation website MoveHub, the Atlantic tax haven is the most expensive nation on Earth, putting it ahead of the likes of Singapore and Switzerland. And it’s capital Hamilton – not Hong Kong – that is the most expensive city in the world.

The priciest countries, as revealed by MoveHub, are in the following order:

  1. Bermuda
  2. Switzerland
  3. Hong Kong (not technically a country, but anyway)
  4. Iceland
  5. Singapore
  6. Norway
  7. Bahamas
  8. UAE
  9. Qatar
  10. Luxembourg
  11. US Virgin Islands
  12. Australia
  13. Denmark
  14. Ireland
  15. USA
  16. New Zealand
  17. Japan
  18. Kuwait
  19. Israel
  20.  Italy
  21. Ghana

MoveHub’s index was based on the cost of transport, dining, rent, grocery shopping and other factors, with New York as the benchmark (isn’t it always?).

Now I’m no economist, but I’m sensing a trend here. Most of the countries listed above are relatively small territories. Bermuda, Hong Kong, Iceland, and Singapore in the top 5 are tiny, and Switzerland doesn’t exactly stretch across timezones either. Also among the nations named are oil producers and tax havens.

And perhaps of interest to those affected by Brexit: the UK is ranked 29th worldwide in cost of living terms, coming well under expat favourites Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE, Australia, US and New Zealand. (And yes, I am surprised.)

EU, East Asia dominate InterNations Quality of Life Index

Taipei 101

It’s a new year and a new start for many, who will be assessing their lot in a rapidly changing world. Few things can be relied on anymore, from job security to political stability. Brexit is naturally forcing a rethink among people resident in the UK, and the US has surprisingly and controversially introduced a travel ban. And it will likely get more problematic still.

Amidst so much uncertainty, the pursuit of quality of life by international migrants almost seems a luxury. Never mind children’s education, decent healthcare and hours of sunshine; how about just holding down a job and being allowed to stay in the country?

It’s a question I’m pondering as I’m scanning the latest Quality of Life Index from InterNations. Nine EU destinations, are listed in the top 20. With the UK hellbent on leaving Europe and burning bridges,  British passport holders might want to reconsider relocating to any of these countries long-term, at least until visa and travel rules become clearer.

Beyond the EU, two neighbouring East Asia countries sit in the top 3. Taiwan tops the index of 67 countries, with a whopping 99% of respondents rating their personal safety favourably and 89% reporting satisfaction with the territory’s peacefulness. Japan was in third, with those polled rating it highly for transport and again peacefulness.

But again, with tensions rising over the South China Sea, and Trump irritating China over Taiwan,  the situation in East Asia is looking pricklier than usual.

As for last year’s index winner, Singapore, the city-state dropped to eight in 2016., while still ranking first for Travel & Transport.

And finally, the countries to avoid (you might also want to add the US if you hail from a Muslim-majority country): Nigeria is worst for quality of life, followed by Mozambique and Kuwait.

Here is the Quality of Life Index in full:

Quality of Life Index 2016

Miami is world’s most inspiring city, Travelbird study shows

Miami by night

In a surprising survey to identify the world’s most stimulating cities, both in results and methodology, Miami emerged with the highest “inspirational ranking”.

Popular Belgian tourist destination Bruges was named the world’s second most inspiring city on the list compiled by Dutch travel company Travelbird (the film In Bruges springs to mind, whose characters have a wholly different sentiment altogether).

San Francisco, heart of the global tech revolution, was third, ahead of creative cities Bristol and Reykjavik, with the full top 10 as follows:

  1. Miami
  2. Bruges
  3. San Francisco
  4. Bristol
  5. Reykjavik
  6. Santiago de Compostela
  7. Salzburg
  8. Zurich
  9. Heidelberg
  10. Florence

Chiang Mai, a city popular with remote workers, and said to be the top city for digital nomads to live and work in, was ranked 14th.

The survey looked at 85 cities worldwide and measured across categories that included creativity, romance, culture and innovation, counting for instance the number of performing arts companies, art schools, galleries and museums present in each location.

London perceived as the world’s best city, PwC report shows

London phone box

City rankings are all the rage these days. This year we have seen surveys from Mercer, the EIU and Monocle. Any day now, I’m expecting to see the World’s Best Cities to Celebrate the Festive Season (with the likes of Vienna emerging top again).

Most recently, PwC have joined the throng, revealing the world’s Best Cities as voted for by the public across a range of factors such as politics, food, happiness, culture and business. The report was conducted in collaboration with BAV Consulting, polling 5,200 decision makers, informed elites and other members of the public from 16 countries (I’m not sure why so few countries were targeted) in December 2015.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the so-called “world cities” that dominate international affairs and fill column inches that have won most recognition. They have a left an imprint on the public consciousness.

London (which enjoys by far most media attention in the UK) is seen as the world’s greatest city, with perennial superbrands Paris and New York completing the top three:

    1. London
    2. Paris
    3. New York
    4. Amsterdam
    5. Sydney
    6. Berlin
    7. Tokyo
    8. Toronto
    9. Stockholm
    10. Los Angeles

It’s hard to see London displaced any time soon. Brexit is unlikely to hurt London’s ranking, a question posed by PwC in their report. The UK capital has a history of battling through crises. More than anything, its capacity to remain resilient and reinvent itself throughput the years underlines its appeal, like all successful brands.

Yet while the traditional triumvirate are seen as the most influential, they might not necessarily be the most liveable cities. Young people are keen to move away from expensive cities, and from London in particular.

PwC’s findings are especially interesting as a report was released in parallel showing how cities were performing in “reality”, based on hard facts instead of perception. The report, Cities of Opportunity, showed that while London came top again, Singapore and Toronto emerged second and third best, respectively:

  1. London
  2. Singapore
  3. Toronto
  4. Paris
  5. Amsterdam
  6. New York
  7. Stockholm
  8. San Francisco
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Sydney

It appears that Hong Kong and Singapore have an image problem!