Top 10 cities to visit that you wouldn't want to live in

It seems like every few months there's a new list of the world's most liveable cities. People love this stuff. Depending on which list you choose, the world's most liveable city right now could be Melbourne, it could be Vienna, it could be Munich or it could be Zurich. Wellington is usually up there. Copenhagen too.

As a traveller you always look at those lists and think, sure, those cities are liveable, but would you want to holiday there? Safety isn't always exciting. Access to healthcare, education and public transport don't always make for a thrilling visit. That's great in the long-term, but not so scintillating in the short.

And then, of course, there's a flipside – one that's even more interesting for travellers. Just because a city makes a great holiday destination, doesn't mean you would actually want to live there. Some places are at their best when taken in small chunks, in little thrills instead of lifelong chaos.

I'm always thinking about where I would like to live, and where I wouldn't. The following are some of my favourite cities in the world – but I don't want to spend my life there.

(Please note, I'm probably wrong about all of these. I'm sure people live in each of these cities and love them. But they're not high on my hit list.)


Give me a holiday in Singapore any day of the week. Give me three meals a day at hawker centres. Give me ease of transport and sparkling cleanliness. However, would I want to live in Singapore? Not really. It's a city-state of strict rules. Modern culture there feels a bit forced, too carefully curated. Singapore is also full of expats who move in very different circles to mine, and it's stinking hot and ready to storm pretty much 365 days a year.

See also: Ten things you didn't know about Singapore

Mexico City

I love Mexico City. I love the chaos, the colour, the passion, the life. All of those things are so thrilling when you're there for a few days or a few weeks. Long-term, however? I have a feeling those things I love would also become things I grew tired of. How much chaos can you enjoy in your life? How much life can you have bubbling away before you just want a break from it?

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevasa, USA - March 26, 2016: View of the Las Vegas strip on the night, the strip is full of hotel and casino. Is visible in the background the tour eiffel replica tower. SunOct6cover - So touristy so good - text Ben Groundwater
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Photo: iStock


I can't believe anyone lives in Vegas. It just doesn't feel like a place to spend more than about three days. Of course, that's because I've only seen the tourist side of it, the Strip and Downtown. But this still doesn't feel to me like a place I would like to spend a long period of time. Las Vegas is too glitzy. Too transient. Too money-hungry. I'd prefer somewhere like Portland or Austin.

See also: Nineteen things that will shock first-time visitors to Vegas


This, to me, is another city of life and chaos. And surely that chaos would quickly become too much. The traffic. The people. The pollution. The day-to-day hassles of transport and shopping and just being in this big, bold, crazy place. I feel energised by Mumbai when I visit as a tourist, but I don't know if I could put up with it in the long-term.


Elizabeth Quay, Perth Elizabeth Quay Perth

Photo: iStock

I was born in Perth, so I'll always love it. This is one of Australia's most underrated cities, with amazing beaches that the east coast can't hope to compete with, with a great bar and restaurant scene, with good weather and nice people. But if only Perth was a little closer to everything else I know, to family and friends. I couldn't, now, move my life all the way back to WA.

See also: Eight things you should do in Perth

Ulan Baator

The Mongolian capital isn't a particularly nice city. I love it, though, because it provides access to the rest of Mongolia, to the endless plains, to the national parks, to the nomadic peoples. But you wouldn't want to live there. I know someone who has, and she despised it. The weather is awful, the pollution hangs in an ever-present pall, and the locals aren't exactly enamoured with foreigners. Fun.


Lima, Peru - February 22th, 2011: View over the Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas in Lima. The Plaza in located in the Historic Centre of Lima and is surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop's Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union. Traveller Tours Peru 2020 Peru, Lima

Plaza de Armas in Lima. Photo: iStock

Now here's a city I like spending time in. Give me Miraflores or Barranco any day. These are Lima's trendier coastal suburbs, home to some of the best restaurants in the world, to great bars, to friendly little cafes, to art galleries and museums. But Lima long-term would be a problem. It's not the safest city in the world, and there's a dense curtain of sea fog that hangs over the city pretty much every morning.


Festive day of November in the Moscow Kremlin in the early autumn morning SatSept15cover - APT Russia cruise - Sue Williams
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Photo: iStock

Moscow is one of the world's great cities, an occasionally scary beast that's also the home of high culture and rich history. I love visiting. But would I want to live in the Russian capital? Exist under the strongman rule of Vladimir Putin? Suffer through Russian winters? Battle to break into Russian society? Probably not.


View of the splendid night view of downtown Shanghai. sunnov10takeoff

Photo: iStock

It's just too big, too modern, too obsessed with progress and change. I've always enjoyed visiting Shanghai, to marvel at the sheer size of it while enjoying great food and getting to know the people. But this isn't the way I picture my ideal home.


The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates  iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. Dubai the Palm

Photo: iStock

Big, brash, flashy Dubai. I like to visit, but not for the skyscrapers and the champagne brunches. I like to visit Dubai for the authentic food from around the Middle East, for the Iranian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian cuisine and more. The Pakistani restaurants are also excellent. To live in Dubai though, you would have to love the flashy nature, and the lack of access to local culture. That's not ideal for me.

Are there any cities you love to visit but don't want to live in? What makes a good tourism destination, but not a good home? Where would you like to live if you could go anywhere?



See also: Twenty things that will shock first-time visitors to Dubai

See also: Forget liveable: Here are the 10 most loveable cities in the world

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