British magazine ranks Helsinki as world’s “most liveable” city
By Paula Paukku
The British magazine Monocle has chosen Helsinki as the most liveable city in the world.
Four years ago Helsinki was ranked sixth in liveability, and in the three years that followed, it stayed in fifth place until now, when it was put on top.
One of the factors tipping the scales in Helsinki’s favour this year was that Monocle has revised its criteria somewhat.
Editor-in-chief Tyler Brúlé explains: "We changed our metrics slightly this year. One criterion was a city which functions beyond ten to four, in terms of shop and service opening hours. We also started to look at opportunity both locally and internationally."
According to Brúlé Helsinki has always been known for its good health care, public transport and education. However, in the past four years there have been positive changes in Finland in the opening hours of shops, for instance.
"Helsinki has become more of a round-the-clock city; not around the clock like Tokyo, but opening hours have started to change in the past four years. And we think that reflects a modern city, which needs to be engaged with different time zones."
The second- and third-best places to live, Zurich and Copenhagen, got negative points for their shorter Sunday opening hours.
Helsinki’s position was strengthened especially by its links with growing economies, such as Korea, India, and China.
"Helsinki works as a first stopping off point for people from growth markets like Korea, India and China. Helsinki needs to work harder in capturing those people. Not just tell people to go to Helsinki-Vantaa and connect, but get off the plane and come into town as well."
One characteristic that impressed Monocle was Helsinki’s “dark side”. By this Brúlé does not mean crime or corruption, which are relatively small problems in Helsinki.
"There is darkness in Helsinki, obviously from October to April, since the city is so dark."
More seriously, Brúlé adds:
"But Helsinki also has a "dark side" in terms of the music and club scenes. Dark can also be a sense of fun and naughtiness. Who would've thought there are karaoke taxis and such an interesting jazz scene for example? Helsinki doesn't present these things very well, they're almost secrets. We know about good design, architecture, and so on, but people should be told about the soft side as well, like music and food", Brúlé says.
An event marking the official publication of the most liveable city chosen by Monocle will be held in London on Wednesday.
Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen and Finnish Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi will take part in the event.
“We are not looking for appreciation; we are showing appreciation for the work that has been done. Many positive phenomena have happened here, and are happening here. We have worked for the establishment of a functional and fun city, but there is still much that needs to be improved”, Pajunen said.
Brúlé is planning to celebrate in Helsinki once Finland comes back en masse from its cottages after the summer holidays.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 11.6.2011
PAULA PAUKKU / Helsingin Sanomat