Cities of Opportunity 7:

London retains the top spot

London has maintained top spot as a centre for business, finance and culture widening its lead over the rest of the 30 international cities, in our seventh Cities of Opportunity index.

London’s success is strikingly consistent across all of the indicators, measuring how major international cities are developing, dominating the city gateway, economic clout and intellectual capital and innovation categories.

It also stands out not only for the widespread use and the maturity of its technology, but also for the diversity of its cultural offering. It came top in its attractiveness to employees looking to relocate, and second in the YouthfulCities Index (a new variable introduced this year).

But the report warns that London's performance in terms of cost and the environment could be better, with the city slipping to mid table overall against its competitors on sustainability and the environment and doing poorly on cost when it comes to business occupancy and the cost of living.

It remains to be seen what impact the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have on the city. If Brexit has effects on London, they will play out in a process over time in areas like talent mobility, trade and regulation. However, this report reinforces many reasons why London should be optimistic about its future.


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Cities of Opportunity 7 analyses the development of 30 global cities, and through their performance seeks to add insight on the policies and actions that make cities function best.


London proudly claims 1st place for the second time running, edging further away from its closest rivals Singapore, Paris, Toronto, Amsterdam and New York. Its performance is driven by consistent strength in almost all areas.

How London performed

  • Intellectual capital and innovation - 1st
  • City gateway - 1st
  • Economic clout - 1st
  • Technology readiness - 2nd

Rankings at a glance

London remains top of the class in the economic clout, city gateway, intellectual capital and innovation categories. It does so with an even stronger performance than in the last edition.

Balance works best in today’s complex urban ecosystems. Education, transit, health, economics, and governance all have to combine for a city to succeed. London proves this again as its balanced strengths are a true differentiator against other advanced cities.

Cities of Opportunity

City gateway

London represents the supreme gateway city - not only to Europe but to many other regions of the world (Africa, the Middle East, and, for those flying west, the Americas) by a considerable margin. London’s scores are impressive across the board here.

Intellectual capital and innovation

Top-notch educational infrastructure, transnational hubs of technological innovation, and global gateways are all part of one integrated human, financial, and industrial structure that marks those cities that should flourish in the long term. London is, far and away, the most successful city in this section with no other city coming close to the UK capital’s performance here.

Demographics and livability

This is an extremely important category because it both points to the future and speaks to the achievements of the present. London slips one place overall but still finishes 3rd in this indicator behind New York and Paris, who are joint first. In indicators that gauge the quality of urban life, the city ranks 1st in both entertainment and attractions, relocation attractiveness and 2nd for cities best suited for young people (aged between 15 and 29) to live and work.

Sustainability and cost

London improves marginally in the sustainability indicator, rising from 14th to 13th since our last report. But it continues to have some serious challenges, including ranking 15th in recycled waste; 18th in natural disaster exposure (but 4th in preparedness); and 27th in public park space, ahead of only Hong Kong, São Paulo, and Lagos.

Worst of all as far as indicator results are concerned, London finds itself in the bottom 10 (#26) in cost. It not only finishes 24th in our new variable, affordability of rent, but ranks last (30th) in cost of living and business occupancy, as the city proves to be the most expensive of all the cities in these variables this year.

Contact us

Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson

Marketing, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7718 978193

Emma  Charlesworth

Emma Charlesworth

Marketing Manager, Client Relationship Programmes, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7711 562099

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