Future-thinking cities around the world

Hannah Norton

Dec 4, 2023

Cities around the world are continuously looking at ways they can provide better experiences for citizens both now and into the future.

As experts in home loans and getting the most for your money, we wanted to find out which cities are the best and worst for home buyers looking to the future.

From tackling climate change by using green energy and encouraging the use of electric vehicles; to easily accommodating digital nomads and freelancers through coworking spaces; we’ve analysed various factors to uncover a list of the most (and least) future-thinking cities around the world.

Cities with the most future-led innovation

So, which cities are doing the most with climate change, transport, coworking spaces, and more? It’s time to find out…

1. London, UK

With a population of nine million people, London ranked as the most future-thinking city in the world on our index, for several reasons. Not only does it have the most coworking spaces by far, at 1,310, but it also has more EV chargers than any other city, at 1,031; making it an extremely liveable city for both remote workers, and those who drive electric cars.

In addition to that, London has the fourth highest climate performance score, at 63.07; indicating that it’s tackling climate change head-on.

2. Dallas, Texas, USA

In second place is Dallas, where digital competitiveness is the joint second best in the world; meaning the national economy is well placed for a future in technology.

Not only that, but the city has the second fastest internet speeds, at 241 Mbps, as well as being in the nation with the most amount of spend on transport, at a staggering EUR€100,685 million (AUD$164,117 million).

3. New York City, New York, USA

The second US destination to make the list, New York City is the third most forward-thinking location; with the most spend on transport infrastructure nationally, as well as the joint second lowest digital competitive ranking score.

In addition to that, New York has 417 coworking spaces (the second most on our list), making it easy for digital nomads to work; and the sixth highest number of EV chargers, at 645.

4. San Diego, California, USA

California’s San Diego makes it into fourth place; largely thanks to, once again, having the highest transport spend (at a national level), and the joint second best digital competitive ranking score.

San Diego also has the third fastest internet speeds, at 208 Mbps – useful for anyone working within the digital space.

5. Chicago, Illinois, USA

Rounding off the top five cities on our list is Chicago. Whilst, like the other American cities on our list, it ranks well for digital competitiveness and transport spend; the other benefits of moving here include the fact it has the seventh highest number of EV chargers, at 591; as well as the 10th fastest internet speeds, at 150.63 Mbps.

The rest of the top 10 cities continue to be very US-dominated, with San Francisco in sixth position, Los Angeles in eighth, and Seattle in 10th. However, Copenhagen makes it into seventh place, and Stockholm in ninth; showing that Scandinavian cities are looking forward to the future – especially when it comes to climate change.

Interestingly, when it comes to internet speeds, Barcelona takes the crown as being the fastest, with an impressive 318.23 Mbps average download speed!

Image showing the top future-thinking cities around the world.

European cities with the most future-focused innovation

Aside from London, which cities in Europe rank the highest for being the most future-thinking?

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Second in Europe and seventh overall, Denmark’s capital has the highest climate performance score on our list, at 79.61. The city has many different climate initiatives in place, and its goal is to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.1

Not only that, but it has the second highest percentage of green energy, at an impressive 83.96%, the best digital competitiveness score; and the seventh fastest internet speeds, at 168.7 Mbps.

3. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden’s capital scores third in Europe, and ninth in the world on our index; and for good reason. With Scandinavia leading the way in the climate sphere; Stockholm has the second highest climate performance score, at 73.28; as well as the fifth highest green energy usage, at 68.38%.

4. Oslo, Norway

It’s a similar story for Oslo, who placed fourth in Europe, and 12th overall. At 98.97%, almost all of its energy comes from renewable sources; and it has the third highest climate performance score, at 64.47.

Other European cities that scored well for their future-thinking include Amsterdam and Barcelona in 15th and 16th place, followed by Vienna, Zurich, and Manchester, who all made it into the top 20 global rankings.

Cities that are behind the curve

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s time to look at the cities that are falling behind when it comes to thinking about the future.

1. Warsaw, Poland

Sitting right at the bottom of our list is Poland’s capital, and there are a few reasons for this. Digital competitiveness is the third worst in the world, indicating that Poland has a relatively low ability to explore and adapt to digital technologies in the future.

In addition, the city does not score so well from a climate perspective – it has the second lowest percentage of green energy, at 21.04%, as well as the seventh worst climate performance score, at 37.94.

2. Athens, Greece

In second last place is Athens, with the slowest internet speeds on our list, at just 45.29 Mbps. In addition, the city has the worst digital competitiveness rate, as well as the seventh fewest number of coworking spaces, at just 37; and the fourth least spend on transport, at EUR€780 million (AUD$1,272 million).

3. Belgrade, Serbia

Also ranking poorly for its future-thinking is Belgrade. This city has the second lowest number of EV chargers, at just 95 in the city, as well as the sixth least spend on transport, and the 10th lowest number of coworking spaces, at only 42.

Eight out of the 10 least future-thinking cities were in Europe, with Australia’s Canberra and Perth making it into ninth and 10th position.

If we look at the various factors that make up our index, then Prague uses the lowest amount of green energy, at 12.34%, and Canberra has the least EV chargers out of all the cities we looked at, at just 88.

Porto and Lisbon spent the least on transport, at EUR€282 million (AUD$460 million) nationally, and Naples and Marseille have the least coworking spaces, at 12 and 16, respectively.

General Manager of Money at Compare the Market, Stephen Zeller, says it’s encouraging to see so many cities investing heavily in their future.

“It’s great to see so many cities implementing their own initiatives to help tackle climate change and preparing themselves for a digital future.

“These cities are positioning themselves to be future leaders in digital industry and innovation, and will potentially become hotspots for digital nomads and others in the tech space,” Mr Zeller suggested.

“For prospective homeowners, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that where you live and the facilities around you can have a great impact on the value of your home.

“And, if you are looking to move to an area that has good potential for future innovation and growth, you can compare your home loan options to ensure you get the most out of your money.”

If you are an Australian citizen in the market for a home loan, you could try our free, online tool to help you compare your options and look for a loan that suits your individual circumstances.


This dataset ranks 50 locations, based on how good they are for investing in the future. To do this, 7 different factors were used. Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were normalised, to provide each factor with a score of between 0 and 1. If data was not available, a score of 0 was given. The normalised values were then summed, to give each location a total score out of 7. The locations were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.

The factors used are as follows:

  • Number of EV Chargers – The number of EV chargers listed on PlugShare for each city.
  • Transport Infrastructure Spend – Total inland transport infrastructure investment for the country each city is in. Amount given is in millions of EUD and AUD, and is sourced from OECD Stats.
  • Internet Download Speed – Average download speed in Mb/s for each city, sourced from Broadband Speedchecker.
  • Coworking Spaces – The number of coworking spaces listed on Coworker for each city.
  • Digital Competitiveness RankWorld Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2022.
  • Climate PerformanceThe Climate Change Performance Index score. This was based off 14 factors centred around reducing climate change in each country.
  • Green Energy – The percentage of a country’s energy which is produced from renewable sources, in 2022. Sourced from OurWorldinData.

The factors were indexed as follows:

  • Number of EV Chargers – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Transport Spend – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Internet Download Speed – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Start-up Score – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Digital Competitiveness Score – Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.
  • Climate Performance – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Green Energy – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.

All data is correct as of 29/09/23. 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. A conversion rate of 1.63 AUD = 1 EUR was used.

Additional sources:

  1. State of Green – City of Copenhagen