Living it up

Do you love where you live?  Some like their home towns spotless, with neat tree-lined streets, sophisticated restaurants and orderly traffic; others can’t bear the tedium of tidiness and crave a little madness in their lives.

San FranciscoA list of the best cities in the world to live in is about to be published by Monocle magazine.

I’ve seen the list, and without giving the game away — the results are to be announced on Sunday — I reckon they’re a bit tame. But then my choice in urban environments has always been a little unusual.

I’ve lived in Lagos, and get a huge buzz every time I return there. And yes, I know that it’s very polluted and has a reputation for the worst traffic jams on the planet – but that’s half the fun.

I’ve lived in Delhi, and that has a madness all its own. But the life and the colours of its street markets, the narrow alleyways of its old city, the rickshaws, the mopeds hurtling by, engines whining at top speed make it a very special place. 

I’ve lived in Maputo. Where, you say? Mozambique’s capital has (i’d strongly argue) the best, freshest, sea-food anywhere in the world; the prawns caught just offshore in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean are to die for, grilled on an open barbeque in a beach cafe, washed down with a locally brewed beer.

None of these cities, it won’t surprise you to know, feature in Monocle’s list of the top places to live (or visit). But in my book, they should. Where’s top of your list and why? Let us know…

We’ve got the editor of Monocle on The World Today on Sunday and he’ll tell us the winner – and what he thinks of your suggestions.



22 Responses to “Living it up”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    June 12, 2009 at 15:29

    Sorry, to me cities never make a good home. They are required to support mass production. But I can’t wait to retire to the great outdoors.

  2. 2 Ann
    June 12, 2009 at 15:40

    In the mountains – as far away from cities as possible.

  3. 3 Tom D Ford
    June 12, 2009 at 17:44

    “… Quality of Life Index – basically, where they think is the best place to live in the world.”

    The trouble is, “wherever you go, there you are”, to quote some wise person.

    Make yourself into a better person, and you’ll have a better quality of life wherever you are.

  4. 4 patti in cape coral
    June 12, 2009 at 17:56

    @ Tom D – Isn’t that a country song? The best place to live is the place that suits you best, of course!

  5. 5 Robert
    June 12, 2009 at 18:09

    I hate the phrase quality of life. There are so many different factors that make you happy or not happy and it is such a personal thing that you can never make a single index or number that scores cities against each other.

  6. 6 bjay
    June 12, 2009 at 18:12


    Quality of life

    I am telling you where it is begin for me .

    The city or town where is the need for quality.
    For example: Good sports town, good news papers-with lots a freelancer.
    And of course with a good night out.
    Ye and good radio last but not least.
    Where is that place ?
    I just name one, Fort-Lauderday/Florida.

  7. 7 steve
    June 12, 2009 at 19:26

    I have a feeling Detroit isn’t going to be on this list.

  8. 8 Assiya
    June 12, 2009 at 22:31

    I live in Maputo and I hate it: power cuts, water shorteges, traffic, humidity, garbage, no parking space, no cinema, no good theater, no art excibitions, no coffee shops and out of the way book stores, alot of shouting, sweaty smelly people…the list goes on. Given a choice, where would I live: Anywhere but here. Perhaps Torronto

    • 9 Dan Isaacs
      June 13, 2009 at 09:30

      Perhaps I remember Maputo through rose-tinted glasses. And there’s no denying the real problems of life there. But I still think it’s a city with a real buzz to it. Anyone out there on my side?

  9. 10 Brian in Ca.
    June 13, 2009 at 01:32

    How fortunate we are. Adventures the envy of Marco Polo. Variety is after all is the spice of life. But eventually, dullness returns and a life of corporate wandering leaves an emptiness, unfamiliarity, and alienation.

    Home, the land of your birth and rearing, where the old folks and the familiar are is ultimately the best place.

  10. 11 mikeinnes76
    June 13, 2009 at 05:21

    Assiya – what about those fresh prawns… does anyone else have strong feelings about Maputo?

  11. 12 Ramesh, India
    June 13, 2009 at 09:08

    Seattle, Toronto, Oslo, Singapore are my favourites in the context of the debate.

  12. 13 Nate, Portland OR
    June 13, 2009 at 10:55

    World Have Your Say was just in my hometown, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I’m very biased, of course, but for what I like its hard to beat. Reasonably slow pace, but there’s lots of opportunity to pick it up if you want. Sometimes cutting edge (home of the Simpsons!), rarely pretentious, big-city and backwater all rolled into one.

    I can work in a high-tech job, after work ride my bike to a good game of pick-up basketball, then finish it up at any one of a number of FANTASTIC brew-pubs.

    But I’m a slow paced, clean-breathing kind of guy. Of the 3 cities mentioned in the intro I’ve only been to Dehli. I’m not even sure its a nice place to visit, and I certainly wouldn’t want to live there. But it may just be me. At nearly 2 m tall and lily-white, I feel like the circus is in town every time I step outside – and I’m the circus! Imagine everywhere you go there’s 200 people in your field of vision, and roughly half of them have stopped what they’re doing to stare at you. I learned to very quickly to love my anonymity. Clean air is good too.


    When all heck breaks loose I’m fairly sure we can grow enough food to feed ourselves, and there’s enough DIY attitude to build up the local economy.

  13. 14 Aboy calledhate
    June 13, 2009 at 11:56

    I live in a small town in the Ozarks and like it very much, LOVE??? I don’t know.
    I would like to live in Florida, my fav place to visit, but I don’t like the crime and cultural diversity of the area. I’m a small town hick I guess and large numbers of diffrent kinds of people freak me out!

  14. 15 sumedh from Nepal
    June 13, 2009 at 17:52

    i think where we born is more important than where we live later. We have some sort of emotional attachment to it. I was borm in a religious town Janakpur, but lived most of my life in capital Kathmandu.But, i still feel attached to Janakpur moreover

  15. 16 globalcomedy
    June 13, 2009 at 18:12

    I’ve lived in 12 states in the U.S.. I’ve been to 25. I’ve lived in the U.K., Japan. And have been to 9 countries.

    The best places to live? San Francisco, London, Tokyo. I’ve lived in small towns. But I need the city.

  16. 17 Assiya
    June 14, 2009 at 17:41

    Believe me, the prawns don’t cover it. And there is not much to them when you have eaten them your entire life. As for the rose tinted shades, well, they are a pretty strong pink. Anyhow, I am planning my way out of here one day insh Allah. Especially if I plan to continue my studies. I still vote Torronto

  17. 18 Morad Tabbicca
    June 15, 2009 at 08:50

    I would like to live in Geneva. Geneva has spectacular scenery and well catered surroundings. It has a rich culture and history. In Geneva, the people are amazingly friendly. The weather is very comfortable; the air is very clean. Geneva has a good transport network, world class fashion and accessories shops. The city also organizes so many great events and exhibitions. What else can I ask for? Whenever I’m Geneva, my soul is at peace.

    June 15, 2009 at 09:36


    I have not travelled widely for me to recomend any cities but none the less I feel it is an achievable ideal if the cities are governed by listening and visionary leadership. My capital city; Nairobi in Kenya has never been my ideal until several improvements are implemented. The main problem with it is the heavy traffic of human population within a radius of leass than ten squre kilometers instead of spreading out.

    I do not like mega cities and would like to leave them to industries, big businesses and governments. For this reason my heart will always turn to small rural towns though ironically they should not be far from the mega cities. My reason for this is that it is overcrowding which is often the source of woes for the cities due to heavy preasure on environment, housing, garbage disposal and maintenance of good climate. I am a strong believer that people and services should be spread out rather than having humans living akin to disconected herds of stressed citizens.

    Having said that, I find it agreable for cities to be clean, less poluted in terms of noise, efficient transport systems, assigned facilities for shopping, recreation and entertainment for the population which resides there. They should include indigeneous as well as exotic natural treas and even clean rivers and lakes where possible.

  19. 20 patrick
    June 16, 2009 at 02:57

    I live in Bamenda,a small town in the north west region of Cameroon,i really love were i live but i feel there is no future for me here,so i hope to move and go far far away from here very soon

  20. June 16, 2009 at 04:49

    I have lived in Switzerland, New Zealand and Bangkok and travelled to many other places.

    For me, it would be Bangkok by a mile! There is so much to see and do. There’s an adventure to be had every day. The only problem is the lack of any public place whatsoever (except the malls…) I am sure I would enjoy Delhi and Maputo too though.

    Switzerland is boring and the people very reserved. New Zealand the same. All the green pastures and mountains? Yes, if you want to live on the countryside, New Zealand is just it!

  21. 22 John LaGrua/New York
    June 16, 2009 at 17:24

    I have lived in San Francisco ,late 50’s fun when young ,Chicago early 60’s more mature and great living ,cultural ,recreatIonal ,business ,great people. New York is the most interesting US city dynamic,challenging all the culture one can absorb but very demanding .Only for serious people with career goals and ambition.Perhaps London comes closest to ideal ,sophisticated ,elegant ,cultural ,easy access to country and to Europe ,not for sun worshippers.Easy jet makes it easy to flee to Spain where the rain falls mainly on the plain.Ole’

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