World's best-perceived cities versus the reality revealed in new PwC report

Sydney is considered one of the best cities in the world, but the perception does not match up with the reality, according to a new study.

London was named the best perceived city in the world ahead of New York and Paris, in the global report that examines the perception of major cities versus the reality.

While Sydney came close to the top of the list at no.5 for "best perceived" cities, Australia's largest city dropped to no.10 when it came to assessing what it is really like.

The report, which comprises two studies, (one on "perception" and the other on "reality" and benchmarks) rates 30 cities on a variety of factors including: corruption; health, safety, and security; innovation and entrepreneurship; transportation and infrastructure; demographics and liveability; sustainability and the natural environment; economic clout; intellectual capital and innovation; and education.

London topped the list with 5200 adults from across 16 countries scoring the city highly. Sydney was ranked No.5 behind Amsterdam and ahead of Berlin (No.6), Tokyo (No.7), Toronto (No.8), Stockholm (No.9) and Los Angeles (No.10). The study did not include any other Australian cities.

The second study examined quantifiable factors to assess whether these cities lived up to their high-held reputations.

The results varied. London still topped the list, with New York and Paris scoring lower than how they are perceived. Singapore was rated as the second best city on quantifiable factors, followed by Toronto (No.3), Paris (No.4) and Amsterdam (No.5). New York came in at sixth place, with Stockholm (No.7), San Francisco (No.8), Hong Kong (No.9) and Sydney (No.10) rounding up the 10 spots.


Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin were named among the world's 10 best cities, however they all failed to make the top 10 when it was ranked according to quantifiable factors. Sydney also fared better in perception and than in reality, falling five spots from No.5 to No.10. Cities like New York, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro were in the same boat, with their overall perception outpacing their real-world attributes, the report states.

Cities showing the closest link between perception and reality were London, which is No. 1 in both studies, and Paris and Amsterdam, which are in the top five in both studies.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lagos ranks the lowest and Jakarta in the bottom three in both studies, and Shanghai and Moscow are at No. 21 and 22, respectively, on both lists.

The report, published last week by international consultancy firm PwC, was conducted in December 2015, before Britain's exit from the European Union and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

London was also named best city in the world for travellers in 2016 by TripAdvisor. It was described as "one of the world's most admired destinations" thanks to its mix of culture, music, history, fashion, food and beer.

10 best cities: the perception

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. New York
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Sydney
  6. Berlin
  7. Tokyo
  8. Toronto
  9. Stockholm
  10. Los Angeles

10 best cities: the reality

  1. London
  2. Singapore
  3. Toronto
  4. Paris
  5. Amsterdam
  6. New York
  7. Stockholm
  8. San Francisco
  9. Hong Kong
  10. Sydney

See also: Countries with the worst and best reputations

See also: The most overrated (and underrated) cities