We all have different expectations from the city we live in: foster a career, raising kids, meetings new people and culture ... and we all have different mind set and way to interact with people.

This website, through its two interfaces, is here to help you to find out which is YOUR best city among the 140 scored by the Economist Intelligence Units (EIU). Hofstede cultural parameters have been added (when available), so you can look at places that match your cultural mindset.

First create your city shortlist based on your language and cultural expectation and then drill into the details by comparing side by side cities of your top selection.

This blog have been created in the contest of the best city contest 2012 organized by buzzdata and EIU. Review the methodology followed.

Have fun!



I did not include the cost of life index, because it will need to create a new index for income / expense. Secondly in case of long term immigration assumption have been made that local wages will cover differences in cost of life between different cities.

All livability index data have been used.

Using Google refine and freebase reconciliation service, the country and official language have been added for every cities. Official language for countries with more than 3 officials language (e.g. Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa) have been striped down to relevant one (relevant of the population and / or speak in other countries.)

Hosftede culture analysis have been added to the EIU data to allow user to filter cities that match his own cultural expectation. Match have been done based on either the country, sub culture within the country when available (Canada, Belgium)  or larger cultural group (Africa and Arab countries). This have been done using Google refine cell.cross function and faceting / editing values.

Correspondance between cities, country and VSM categories can be reviewed here.

Data for Sri Lanka have been added from an interdependent study available on Hofstede website.

Tableau Public have been used to create the reports and different views.

I also use replace pioneer from time to time for batch editing.

VSM dimensions

Power Distance Index (PDI) 
Power Distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a society expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. A low score demonstrates flat hierarchical relationship whereas a high score indicates more rigid hierarchical relationship.

Individualism Index (IDV) 
Individualism  (high score) is the opposite of Collectivism (low score). Individualism stands for a society in which the ties between individuals are loose: a person is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family only. Collectivism stands for a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which continue to protect them throughout their lifetime in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

Masculinity Index (MAS) 
Masculinity (high score) is the opposite of Femininity (low score). Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) 
Uncertainty Avoidance is defined as the extent to which the members of institutions and organizations within a society feel threatened by uncertain, unknown, ambiguous, or unstructured situations. The greater the score the more this feelings is important.

Long Term Orientation Index (LTO) 
Long Term Orientation (high score) is the opposite of Short Term Orientation (low score). Long Term Orientation stands for a society which fosters virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular adaptation, perseverance and thrift. Short Term orientation stands for a society which fosters virtues related to the past and present, in particular respect for tradition, preservation of “face”, and fulfilling social obligations.

A very limited number of city have a LTO score.

Indulgence versus Restraint Index (IVR)
Indulgence (high score) is the opposite of Restraint (low score). Indulgence stands for a society which allows relatively free gratification of some desires and feelings, especially those that have to do with leisure, merrymaking with friends, spending, consumption and sex. Its opposite pole, Restraint, stands for a society which controls such gratification, and where people feel less able to enjoy their lives.

Source: VSM08 manual, Hofstede 2008

City, Country, VSM Correspondence

Full dataset available on buzzdata.

Montreal and Toronto, best cities in the world

What's the best city in the world to live? That's the question asked by buzzdata and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) last month in their best city contest. The EIU ranked recently Melbourne as best city in the world with a total score of 97.53 out of 100 just before Vancouver  (97.32). This rank is based on 40+ criteria covering a wide range of a city aspect and weighted by the EIU team.

The EIU point of view is a global one and can be a nice tool for city decision maker. But at an individual level, it does not take into account language and cultural aspect. Melbourne is the best city in the world, fine, but if I don't speak English or if I not into the Australian way of life, Melbourne might not be my best city.

So, I build up the following application based on EIU data, Hofstede cultural analysis and official language per city to help anyone to find out which is the best city. And based on my own criteria, best city in the word are Toronto and Montreal! let me explain why:

First, I speak French and English, so I'm looking for a city with one of those two languages. Then my cultural background is French (I am from Lyon) and I guess that I share the same cultural parameter than any other french person. However, I am more risk prone and willing to work in organization with flatter hierarchical relationship. Let's translate this into some numeric parameters and find out which city will be the best for me:
  • Lyon have total score of 91, and I'm not willing to go somewhere "worst", so I filtered all city with a total score higher than 90.
  • I wan to keep at least the same level regarding the cultural environment (so I set the minimum at 88).
  • Lyon healthcare score is at 100, so I'm ok to get down to 95 to leave an open window for other cities to emerge.
  • I set score for infrastructure, stability and education close or a bit below Lyon's level (85 ; 80 ; 80) to leave room for other cities.
  • Now regarding cultural parameters, I leave long term orientation, masculinity and indulgence versus restraint with no filter as I am pretty flexible with those criteria. 
  • I chose to limit the individualism index at 80 maximum, this is a bit more than the French one but not at the maximum of the scale (higher score is 91)
  • As explain previously I set the maximum of power distance and  uncertainty avoidance to 60 to find more risk prone culture with flatter hierarchical relationship. 

With those parameters I end up with a shortlist of cities located in Canada and New Zealand. I can now compare them into details using the 40+ criteria of the EIU and make my decision.

And I end up naming Toronto and Montreal as best city for the time difference and the relative closeness to France (read family and close friends) compare to other shortlisted cities. And you, what is your best city? Find out now and share it on the blog.

Create your shortlist

Use the following interface to find your best city.
  1. Select your languages in the first column (leave empty to review the 140 cities),
  2. Select your current city in the second column. Its score are displayed right below:
    1. 6 score defined by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), review their definition,
    2. 6 cultural parameters based on Hofstede work review their definition,
  3. Use those scores to set your parameters (min and max) in the third column. Based on those filters
  4. the map display all cities that match your criteria. The greener the cities is, the higher its total score is.
  5. Once you selected your top cities, drill down and compare them in details.

Take a snapshot of your selection using the export button () at the bottom of the app and share it in the comment section!

VSM index by Hofstede, license: The data can be used by researchers without asking for permission.

Liveability Index by EIU, license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

- Country and Language retrieve from Freebase
Freebase CC-BY
Source: Freebase, licensed under CC-BY
Other content from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA

- Dataset available on Buzzdata