Hardest Places to Live by Flora N


1. Auckland, New Zealand

A panoramic image from above of Auckland, with the Sky Tower and CBD visible across Waitemata Harbor and the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Credit: georgeclerk/Getty Images

With an overall index of 96 and high marks across all categories — including a perfect score for education — Auckland earned the top spot this year, attributed partially to its border closures and low COVID-19 numbers, which allowed cultural attractions and schools to stay open.

10. Murrieta

Source: Steve Minkler / shutterstock

Source: Steve Minkler / shutterstock


Murrieta is a town of a hundred thousand people that sits in Riverside County, California. It is ideal for families looking for affordable housing and plenty of activities to engage in.

Median home value in Murrieta is $310,000. This may be some way above the national average of $178,000, but it is on the lower end of the spectrum going by California’s pricey standards. Indeed, it is these housing prices that continue to make it such a draw for both individuals and businesses.

Median annual household income is around $74,000 (also above national average), in a city best known for beautiful surrounding vineyards and natural attractiveness, a fact that has made it easier for local property managers to market the rentals.

It is within 100 miles of Los Angeles, and if safety is always top of your mind, it will certainly come as welcome news to learn that 24/7 Wall Street ranked Murrieta the safest city in America in 2017, second only to – yup – Irvine!

Murrieta has two full-service hospitals, three golf courses, plenty of amenities and the town’s growing economy makes it just the ideal environment for emerging entrepreneurs.


4. Wellington, New Zealand and Tokyo, Japan (tie)

Akihabara Electric town, street view, Tokyo, Japan Credit: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Wellington, New Zealand, and Tokyo, Japan, each earned an overall score of 93.7, tying them for fourth. 

Related: The Top 15 Cities in Asia

13. Clovis

Source: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Source: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock


Clovis is widely considered one of the best places to live in California, at least the northern part. The town of about 100,000 people ranks quite favourably when it comes to public school ratings, crime and safety, diversity, nightlife and good quality of life for families.

Clovis guarantees plenty of family activities, including 285 acres of trails and parks. The Big Hat Day is a popular activity that goes down every April, bringing together thousands of people for food, art and music.

Summers are really an invigorating time around these parts, for among the host of outdoor activities to immerse yourself in, it is when the popular farmers markets of Clovis come alive.

This is one of those growing towns where all positive aspects seem to be on the upswing – graduation rates, salaries, area growth; declining crime rates as well.

3. Adelaide, Australia

Overall rating (out of 100): 94.0 Stability: 95.0 Healthcare: 100.0 Culture and environment: 83.8 Education: 100.0 Infrastructure: 96.4 We love visiting Adelaide for its world-class vineyards and natural wines, but it turns out the southern coastal city is a great place to take up permanent residence. The Economist Intelligence Unit gave it a score of 100 (the highest possible score) in both education and healthcare—judging availability and quality of both—and the city fared very well in the other categories as well. We're sure the city's pristine beaches, world-class restaurants, and aforementioned wine scene certainly add to the livability factor.

#8: Pedasí, Panama


At A Glance

  • Cost Of Living: A+
  • Health Care: C+
  • Affordability Of Real Estate: A
  • Residency: A+
  • Taxes: A+

Pedasí is a small town on the Azuero Peninsula, an oblong chunk of land that juts out from Panama’s south coast and into the Pacific Ocean. Not too long ago, Pedasí was little more than a traditional fishing village. While it still retains that small-town atmosphere, nowadays, Pedasí attracts expats, visitors, investors, and second-home owners from around the world. The big draw? Miles and miles of unspoiled beach.

Pedasí is surrounded by arguably some of the most beautiful coastline in Panama. There are at least 12 beaches close to the town. People from all over are buying plots of land, building their dream homes, and relocating to their version of beachside paradise.

Welcoming Locals Create A Cosy Atmosphere

Pedasí is a town with a village atmosphere—large enough to feel like you can live there, yet small enough to make you feel like an active stakeholder in a thriving community. It has to be one of the friendliest towns in Panama.

The infectious laid-back vibe of the locals has carried over to the expats now residing in Pedasí. Not all towns full of expats are this relaxed and friendly. Sometimes it’s the opposite. In Pedasí, the locals and expats happily welcome others, because it means more friends and more local businesses to share.

Pedasí is a very safe town. Children play and cycle on the streets unsupervised, everyone in town seems to know each other, people help each other out, and hitchhiking is still common practice. The chances of falling victim to even petty crime are slim to none in Pedasí.

#4: Cuenca, Ecuador


At A Glance

  • Cost Of Living: A+
  • Health Care: A-
  • Affordability Of Real Estate: A+
  • Residency: A
  • Taxes: B-

Cuenca is a beautiful city with cobblestone streets and a well-preserved historic center. Even though Ecuador is in the developing world, Cuenca enjoys reliable electricity, modern internet service, and drinkable water.

This is a walkable city, meaning you don’t have to invest in the expense of a car. The mild climate means no heating or air conditioning expenses… another cost-cutter. Health care is first-rate and so cheap that it can make more sense to pay out of pocket rather than investing in health insurance. Cuenca is one of the world’s most affordable places to retire.

Furthermore, Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, meaning no exchange rate risk.

Join An Established Expat Community

Cuenca is home to one of the world’s biggest expat retiree communities. You’ll have plenty of support to help you with your transition.

The expat community has been a significant contributor to the local cultural scene. Today, Cuenca is home to a range of civic and social clubs, special interest groups, and volunteer organizations sponsoring a wide variety of events and activities. You will find theatre groups, fishing clubs, cyclists, creative writers, Buddhist meditation, photographers, hikers, quilters, artists, and investors… the list goes on.

As Cuenca’s expat population has grown over the past few decades, so too has the number of English speakers. With thousands of English-speaking expats in residence, English has rubbed off on much of the service sector, including the immigration office. This makes going about your daily life straightforward and stress-free if you don’t have too much Spanish.

1. Auckland, New Zealand

Overall rating (out of 100): 96.0 Stability: 95.0 Healthcare: 95.8 Culture and environment: 97.9 Education: 100.0 Infrastructure: 92.9 That's right, folks—Auckland is officially the best place to live in 2021. While the city is often (mistakenly) used as little more than a transit stop en route to Queenstown, a slew of new urban renewal projects are making us all consider a permanent relocation. Once-neglected sections of the city's waterfront are being transformed into buzzing areas filled with green spaces and notable shopping addresses. Even before all of these changes, Auckland has long held a reputation for being a popular spot for expats—in fact, some 40 percent of its population was born overseas. Beyond having beautiful places to hike, sail, and surf within easy reach, the city has a diverse culinary scene to match its worldly population.