PHOTO: Auckland, New Zealand

The pandemic’s influence on quality of life has pushed cities in Australia and New Zealand to take six of the top-10 spots in a coveted annual ranking.

Auckland took the first position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the world’s most liveable cities in 2021. Adelaide (3rd), Wellington (4th), Perth (6th), Melbourne (8th) and Brisbane (10th) also made the top 10.

While the list did not go ahead in 2020, the current ranking marks a step change from 2019 and 2018 when Vienna held the number one spot. It is now in 12th place. Sydney, which has also made the top 10 in previous years, has slipped to 11th place.

The global average liveability score has dropped by seven points compared to before the pandemic.

Liveability rankings this year were in large part driven by the pandemic. Auckland’s top berth is attributed to New Zealand’s rapid response to COVID-19, with an early lockdown and stringent quarantine rules to curb the spread allowing life to return to normal sooner than the rest of the world.

Melbourne, on the other hand, had been in first place on the EIU’s list for seven consecutive years until 2017. This year the city tumbled down the ranking following extended lockdowns in 2020 lasting six months in total.