Houston listed last in US by Mercer World-wide quality of living survey

I’ve got to learn to stop looking at city rankings. The methodology always leaves much to be desired and Houston has a habit of hovering at the bottom. The latest is one conducted by Mercer Human Resources and is intended to give companies sending workers to different locations an idea of how whether or not they need to adjust compensation.

Honolulu, the highest ranking city in the U.S., drops two positions to 27th with a score of 103.3. San Francisco remains at 28th position and scores 103.2. Boston, Washington, Chicago and Portland follow in positions 36, 41, 41 and 43 respectively (scores 101.9, 100.4, 100.4 and 100.3) while Houston remains the lowest ranking city in the U.S. at position 68 (score 95.4). Overall, U.S. cities continue to slip slightly or remain stable in the rankings, except Chicago which has moved up 11 places due to decreased crime rates.

I know, I know, I keep telling myself these things don’t matter, but why is Houston always consigned to the basement?

According to the report description:

Each city is based on an evaluation of 39 criteria, including political, social, economic and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport, and other public services. Cities are ranked against New York as the base city, which has an index score of 100.

* Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.)
* Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc.)
* Socio-cultural environment (censorship, limitations on personal freedom, etc.)
* Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.)
* Schools and education (standard and availability of schools, etc.)
* Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transport, traffic congestion, etc.)
* Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.)
* Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.)
* Housing (housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services, etc.)
* Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters)

6 Comments so far

  1. Houston PL (unregistered) on April 18th, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

    Which other cities would you say are worst then Houston? I am not surprised.


  2. Ron (unregistered) on April 18th, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    Is being at the bottom a bad thing here? Isn’t this a scale of cost of living? Since we have a low cost of living, employers don’t need to raise compensation when they move someone here.

    Maybe I’m not understanding this list.


  3. a~lotus (unregistered) on April 18th, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

    i have doubts about the ranking list, maybe its credibility.. i’m sure there are worser cities than houston. and it’s probably arbitrary. most people wouldn’t think that houston has a “bad” quality of living if i’m reading the list right. and besides, houston is not always last.


  4. Matt Bramanti (unregistered) on April 18th, 2006 @ 5:46 pm

    No, it’s not a cost of living scale. It’s a quality of living scale.

    But it’s a really flawed one. Look at the economic indicators:

    currency exchange regulations, banking services, etc.

    How about things like jobs or economic growth? After all, when a company transfers one spouse, the other one generally goes with.


  5. Steelsun (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 6:42 am

    Currency Exchange Regulations?

    That would be a Federal thing, and not a local thing, and thus the same everywhere.


  6. Luke Gilman (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

    It probably should be pointed out that the list was only of major metropolitan areas, so there are lots of little places that would fair far worse I think. Natural disasters are a factor and I can’t imagine Katrina or Rita helped.



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