The most (and least!) desirable neighbourhoods in the world

Hannah Norton

Aug 3, 2023

The pandemic has truly changed the global property market, with renters and buyers to this day placing more value not just in specific features of their homes (think gardens and home offices), but also their future neighbourhoods – in terms of both safety, and ease of access to amenities.

With interest rates rising across the world, getting a mortgage in your home country can seem less enticing; with more people instead choosing to move abroad.

If that’s something you’re considering, then first of all, how exciting! But you might be wondering where’s the best place to move to – as experts in home loan comparison, that’s where we come in. By analysing various factors from safety and happiness rates, to health and more, we’ve created a list of the most and least desirable cities in the world to move to. Read on to find out more.

Image showing the most desirable neighbourhoods around the world.

Image showing the most desirable neighbourhoods to relocate to within the United States of America.

Most desirable neighbourhoods in the world

From Asia to Europe and Australia, these are officially the best neighbourhoods to relocate to, according to our index.

1. Tokyo, Japan

It’s official: the best city in the world to live in is Tokyo! Not only does it top the list for the most sights and landmarks to visit, at a staggering 4,781; but it has the joint second highest health score on our list at 86.5 (behind only Singapore, which scores 13th overall); and the joint fourth lowest unemployment rates, at 2.6%.

When you think of Tokyo, you likely think of sprawling skyscrapers, bright lights, and a whole host of cafes, restaurants, and bars… and you’d be right! However, if you want easy access to everything, but prefer to live away from the noise, then Meguro could be the ideal neighbourhood for you, with a huge range of shops and museums, as well as lots of greenery by the Meguro River – perfect for long walks.

2. Osaka, Japan

Japan’s third biggest city makes it into second place – also with the joint second highest health score, and the joint fourth lowest rates of unemployment. Move here and you could spend your days wandering around the pretty Osaka Castle, discovering the bars of Dotonbori, and taking a day trip to nearby Hiroshima to learn more about the city’s tragic history.

When it comes to choosing where to live, Umeda is close to the action, with lots of shops, restaurants and office buildings; whereas Ashiya is known for its tree-lined streets and rolling hills.

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

With the second highest happiness score on our list and ranked as the sixth securest city; Amsterdam comes in a very respectable third position. If you’ve dreamed of owning a Dutch baroque home overlooking a winding canal, then you’ll want to search for housing in the city centre.

However, if you don’t mind moving a bit further out, then De Baarsjes is known for its affordable housing and low crime rates; and the upmarket Amsterdam Oud-West and Zuid are known for their proximity to museums and parks, as well as the nearby British School.

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

The Scandinavian countries are famed for their well-rounded lifestyles, so it’s no surprise Denmark’s capital comes in fourth place. Not only does it have the highest happiness score on our list, at 7.586, but it’s also officially the most secure city in the world, in terms of health, security, digital and more.

When it comes to choosing whereabouts in Copenhagen to move to; Vesterbro is great for young professionals and couples who want to be close to the nightlife. However, if you’re moving as a family, leafy Frederiksberg is an ideal choice, with its beautiful public gardens and great schools; or Amager, with its close proximity to the long, sandy beach.

5. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is the second Scandinavian city to enter the list, with the third highest happiness score, at 7.395. Known for its progressive maternity and paternity policies, and its long summer holidays, focusing on families spending time together, it’s no wonder many people consider moving to Sweden.

If you want to make the move and be right in the heart of the action, edgy Södermalm could be the ideal neighbourhood for you. Alternatively, if it’s good schools and safe streets you’re after, then look into Sollentuna, which is just a 20-minute drive away from the city centre.

If we then look at the top 10, Paris comes in sixth place, with the second most number of sights to see, at 2,502 (Rome, London and Milan also scored top for these, but fell outside of the top 10).

Taipei sits in seventh place, followed by Frankfurt, Melbourne, and Wellington; with Sydney sitting just outside the top 10, in position 12.

When it comes to low unemployment rates, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City sit in the top positions at 0.9% and 1.9% respectively, but overall, rank 32nd and 37th.

Least desirable neighbourhoods in the world

So, now we know the best cities in the world to move to, which cities fall at the lower end of the scale based on the metrics we chose to compare? While many of these places have low cost of living in their favour, they’ve scored lower for the other factors we’ve looked at.

1. Johannesburg, South Africa

Unfortunately for Johannesburg, with its high unemployment rates, at 29.8% (to put this into context, Barcelona and Madrid have the second worst score, at 13%), lowest health score, and fourth lowest happiness score, it’s firmly at the bottom of our list.

With a reputation for not being particularly safe, while it might not be the first place you’d consider moving to, there are still some great areas to rent or buy. If you’re relocating for business, then living in Sandton is ideal, where many banks and company headquarters are situated. Alternatively, for gated community living, Sunninghill and Lonehill are ideal, as they’re popular with expats, and have some great schools.

2. Mumbai, India

The second least desirable city on our list to live in is bustling Mumbai. Home to over 25 million people, it can often feel overcrowded; and it has the joint lowest happiness score at 4.036, as well as the joint second lowest health score.

However, what it does have going in its favour is affordability – it has the fourth lowest cost of living on our list; and it has a wealth of opportunities within the financial and entertainment industries. If you’re considering relocating, then look in the neighbourhoods of Bandra – it’s on the pricier side, but Bollywood celebrities live here, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get beautiful views of the Arabian Sea; or Lokhandwala Complex, where you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes right on your doorstep.

3. New Delhi, India

India’s capital ranks third lowest on our list, tying with Mumbai with their health and happiness scores, as well as being the fourth least secure city in the world. However, it too, has low living costs in its favour, with some of the best areas in New Delhi to move to including Sunder Nagar, which is home to a host of art galleries and museums; and Uttam Nagar, which is an hour outside of the centre of New Delhi, and offers plenty of affordable housing.

4. Manila, Philippines

If you think of the Philippines, you’ll likely conjure to mind images of white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and lush rainforests. If you’re visiting the country, you’re likely to think no more of Manila than a place to layover before your next flight.

However, the city ranks as the fourth least desirable neighbourhood in the world to live in, despite having the third lowest unemployment rates (2.2%); as it’s technically the least secure city, and it has the fourth lowest health score. However, it acts as a gateway to the islands, so if you choose to move here, look for properties in the areas of Makati and Taguig.

5. Jakarta, Indonesia

Rounding off the fifth least desirable neighbourhoods is Jakarta, due to having just 64 sights and landmarks to see, as well as the fifth lowest health and happiness scores. Known for being overly crowded and full of traffic, there are still benefits to living in Jakarta.

If you’re considering relocating here, then take a look at homes in Pondok Indah, which is home to a golf course and a waterpark; or Kuningan, where you’ll find luxury apartments not far from the Central Business District.

Other cities that made it into our list of the 10 least desirable cities include Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Quito, Riyadh, and Rio de Janeiro.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager of Money at Compare the Market states: “Buying a property is likely to be one of the most expensive decisions you’ll ever make, and it’s not one to be taken lightly. However, with the pandemic opening up opportunities to work from abroad, it comes as no surprise that more people are choosing to relocate overseas, usually to somewhere where the cost of living is significantly cheaper.

“However, whether you choose to settle in Australia, Europe or Asia – or anywhere else in the world for that matter – you’ll want to make sure you’re settling with a home loan that is most appropriate for your personal circumstances. Whether you’re buying or refinancing a home within Australia in particular, you can compare home loans with us, to find the one that adequately meets your needs.”


This dataset ranks 50 different cities across the world, based on desirability to live there. To do this, 6 different factors were used. Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each factor with a score of between 0 and 1. The normalised values were then summed, to give each city a total score out of 6. The cities were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.

The factors are as follows:

  • Happiness Score – A score of how happy each country is. Most of these are based on a three-year average between 2020 and 2022. Some countries are based on a two-year average between 2020 and 2021.
  • Health Score – A score of how healthy each country is.
  • Security Score – A score of how secure each city is. This is based on digital security, health security, infrastructure security, personal security, and environmental security.
  • Cultural Attractions – The number of “Sights & Landmarks” attractions listed for each city on TripAdvisor.
  • Cost of Living Score – A score of the cost of living in each city. This index estimates consumer goods prices, including rent, in comparison to New York City.
  • Unemployment Rate – The unemployment rate in each country, for either 2021 or 2022.

The factors were normalised as follows:

  • Happiness Score – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Health Score – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Security Score – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Sights and Landmarks – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Cost of Living Score – High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.
  • Unemployment Rate – High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.

All data is correct as of 21/07/2023. The ranking data shown is a compilation of multiple data sources and may not be representative of real life. All data is accurate with regards to the sources provided.


The links to the sources and subsequent collection methods are as follows: