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Green Building News

Amsterdam Ranked the Healthiest City

A web-based rental agency scores cities on such issues as work-life balance, quality of gyms, and annual sunshine hours

Based on 10 health-related factors, online rental agency Spotahome ranks Amsterdam as the best of 89 cities worldwide to live in. (Photo: Lukasz Lech / CC / Flickr)

If you want the best available quality of life in an urban environment, Spotahome suggests that you consider Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

The 14th century city known for its canals, coffee shops, and famed red light district also has the best ranking of 89 cities when it comes to 10 healthy-living categories. The rankings were developed by Spotahome, an online Airbnb-like agency specializing in European rentals.

Melissa Lyras, Spotahome’s brand and communications manager for the UK and Ireland, said by email that this is the first time the company has published a healthy cities list. She hopes it will become an annual project.

“Our customers are people who are internationally mobile,” she said by email. “They move for their Erasmus or exchange semesters, for new job opportunities, new experiences and even just for a change of scenery. We want to equip our customers with the most complete information they need to make an informed decision, and motivate them to experience new cities.  Therefore, we created the Healthiest Cities index after recognizing the impact the various factors in the study have on a lifestyle. ”

Among the yardsticks that Spotahome used to develop its first-ever ratings were these:

  • How good are the gyms in town?
  • How many people living there are overweight?
  • How much sunshine does the city get every year?
  • How much vacation time do people living there typically get, and how is the work-life balance of residents?
  • How many junk food outlets are there?
  • Air and water quality.
  • Life expectancy.
  • Availability of car-charging stations.

Spotahome’s methodology weighs those factors and produces a numerical score of between 0 and 10. Amsterdam’s score was 6.97. Number two was Oslo, Norway, at 6.61.

Five U.S. cities included

There were five U.S. cities on the list. The most highly rated is  San Francisco (No. 34, with a score of 5.57), followed by Chicago (No. 45, score of 5.51), New York (No. 54 with a score of 5.24), Houston (No. 63, score of 4.96), and Los Angeles (No. 67, score of 4.83). The top Canadian finisher is Montreal, ranked No. 21 with a health index score of 5.87.

The place that Spotahome would recommend you avoid moving to is Casablanca, Morocco, ranked at No. 89 with a healthy living index of just 3.25. While it did well with the amount of annual sunshine and the relative lack of fast-food outlets, it didn’t do so well with air and water quality, green spaces, and place to charge an electric vehicle.

Spotahome says it uses data from “reputable sources.” Obesity rates, for example, came from the World Health Organization. The availability of electric vehicle charging stations came from a website called Open Charge Map. Information on work-life balances, including the proportion of people who work more than 50 hours per week, came from the Better Life Index published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In order to be included, cities had to have data available in all but one of the 10 categories; if they were lacking more than one, they were not considered.

Cities on the list appear to be major metro areas, apparently because agencies such as the World Health Organization don’t collect information on small cities.

Asked whether Spotahome had heard from officials in any of the cities on the list, Lyras said, “There has been very wide-ranging interest in the study, and especially in particular aspects of the study, but we have not had any direct reaction from a city leader. ”

(Photo: Lukasz Lech / CC / Flickr)

One Comment

  1. wolfnowl | | #1

    It's definitely a beautiful city, and we loved walking around it (and taking the very efficient public transit). However, you do take your life in your hands because the view of the average cyclist seems to be that if you're moving, keep moving and expect everything else to get out of your way!


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