London defined as the world's most attractive 'megacentre'

27 March 2023 4 min. read
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The latest report to try and define the best cities to live in around the world has suggested London is the planet’s most attractive ‘megacentre’. The UK capital was found to be particularly advantaged when it came to economic opportunities, and quality of life.

Every year, hundreds of studies are released, determining ‘the happiest place to live’, ‘the best city to live and work in’, or ‘the top city for culture’. Each questionnaire centres on a highly subjective formula, which critics argue reveals as much about the companies undertaking the research, as the punters they poll.

Each year, consulting firms of all shapes and sizes participate in this deluge of research. And coincidentally, the firms which work as financial and strategic advisors to the world’s largest banks, businesses and governments usually determine that the best places to live, just happen to be the financial hubs which host most of their clients.

How megacenters scored in each dimension

Alongside Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is one of the three largest strategy consultancies in the world. Among its clients are many keystone financial services players, international banks, and global conglomerates – the majority of whom will have bases in London and New York, in order to better connect with the world’s financial markets.

Unrelatedly, BCG has now found that London and New York rank as the “two most desirable megacentres” in the world, ahead of Shanghai, Beijing and Los Angeles. ‘Megacentres’ are large urban centres with an urban population of more than 10 million people. Drawing on the responses of more than 50,000 people in 79 cities around the world, the firm found that London scored highest in terms of economic opportunities, and quality of life, compared to its closest rivals.

A weighted score determined by residential responses, and BCG’s analysis, gave London a rating of 70 when it came to economic opportunities – ahead of New York’s 68. The two were some distance from most of their rivals, as the wealth which collects in their financial hubs subsequently attracts concentrations of knowledge and creative industries. As well as raising the quality of life in these hubs, this also improves the rate of social capital of cities – meaning residents find it easier to ‘identify’ with the city, its culture and history.

This may position London well to benefit from the aspirations of key talent to relocate in the coming years. A 48% portion of city residents polled by BCG said they were currently considering “relocating to a new metropolitan area”. Judging by BCG’s analysis, they will find the richest levels of economic opportunity and quality of life in London – suggesting they would naturally find it the ‘most attractive’ prospective home.

Institutional change

Speaking on the findings of BCG’s report, co-author Vladislav Boutenko said, “Relocating is easier now than ever before. The challenge for urban leaders is to determine what makes their residents happy so they can retain current residents and attract new ones. To do this, urban leaders need to delve into the nuances of how their city works best – or doesn’t.”

London’s leaders might do well not to rest on their laurels, to that end. BCG’s report suggests London has the fourth-best level of interactions with authorities in any of the world’s megacentres – but that might be to damn the city with faint praise. London having a higher level of institutional development, and higher level of input from residents, than Beijing or Istanbul is unsurprising. However, the city’s Metropolitan Police is currently coming under intense public pressure, following several high-profile betrayals of public trust – and suggesting that London’s residents may not be especially confident in their ‘interactions with authorities’.

Responding to an evolving set of crises, a new report commissioned by the Met itself, found that it to be “institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic”. Author Louise Casey found that the Met could “no longer presume that it has the permission of the people of London to police them”.