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07 December, 2020

Best cities to live in 2021 in countries with investment programmes

100 megacities were included in the global ranking of the best cities for life and business in 2021. 7 of them are capitals and major cities in countries that offer residence permits for investment.

Rating: best cities for life and business in countries with residence permit programmes for investment
Photo: Adobe Stock

The rating was made by the company Resonance Consultancy - international consultant on tourism, real estate and economic development. The company conducts annual research, based on the results of which it forms a rating of the best cities in the world.

Only cities with a population of 1 million or more are included in the rating. Megacities are assessed by 25 parameters: for example, the level of safety and income of citizens, the number of local attractions and even the weather.

6 categories with city assessment parameters

CategoryAssessment parameters
  • security level
  • number of attractions, parks and recreation areas
  • number of sunny days per year
  • number of coronavirus cases per million inhabitants
  • number of interesting places, museums and conference halls
  • number of destinations for direct flights from airports
  • university ranking
  • percentage of citizens with higher education
  • Multiculturalism and accessibility to immigration: percentage of foreign nationals who live in the city
  • uniform distribution of income among citizens
  • the unemployment rate in the city
    Gross Urban Product (GRP)
  • number of companies from the Global Fortune 500 with headquarters in the city
Cultural life
  • number of cultural events
  • number of nightclubs and establishments
  • number of restaurants
  • number of large shops and shopping opportunities
  • number of queries in search engines
  • number of reviews on
  • number of hashtags and references in Instagram and Google Trends

We have identified 7 best cities in the countries where you can get a residence permit for your investment. These are megacities of Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal and Greece.

Great Britain

Financial District and Tower Bridge in London, UK
Financial District and Tower Bridge in London, UK

No. 1 - London. The UK capital has the best performance in the categories of Promotion, Infrastructure and Cultural Life. London topped the rating for the 5th consecutive year.

16 UK companies are on the Global Fortune 500 list. This brings London to 5th place in the ranking of the largest organisations with headquarters in the city.

London accounts for approximately 1/4 of all UK GDP, including tourism. In 2019, 40 million tourists visited the UK, of which 11 million came to London.

The city has a good ecology. Diesel-powered cars are not allowed in the city, so emissions remain very low.

London is a great place to live and relax: it is ranked 16th by the number of parks and recreation areas. This heritage is left over from country residences and hunting grounds of British aristocrats.

The UK Bureau of National Statistics directly links parks to the well-being of citizens. Trees create shade and reduce temperatures. As a result, they have helped save £5 billion in air conditioning costs between 2014 and 2018. Another 11 billion pounds remained in the country's budget because people could work even during the hot summer months.

Hyde Park was the hunting grounds of King Henry VIII. Turned into city park in 1637
Hyde Park was the hunting grounds of King Henry VIII. It was turned into a city park in 1637.

40 major UK universities are located in the capital. Among them is University College London, which was ranked among the top 10 best universities in the world in 2020. We talked about it and other UK universities in the material 'The best universities in countries with residence permit programmes for investment in 2020'.

Resonance Consultancy experts have also found the drawbacks of living in London. For example, there is a big difference in the income of city dwellers. In the long term, this increases crime rates, and housing, quality products and services, and higher education become unaffordable for some residents. UBS, the largest Swiss bank, has placed London's real estate market at risk: prices within the city are often inflated.

Skyscraper Beetham Tower at 47 floors is the tallest building in Manchester
The 47-storey Beetham Tower skyscraper is the tallest building in Manchester.

No. 94 - Manchester, a major UK industrial, commercial and scientific centre.

Large British and international companies have their head offices and factories in Manchester. For example, the city has a British subsidiary of Siemens with production and warehouses.

The University of Manchester is one of the largest in the UK. 25 university graduates have won the Nobel Award at various times. It is second only to Oxford and Cambridge in terms of number of Nobel laureates.

The city is popular with tourists, with around 5 million people coming to see the sights of Manchester every year. In Resonance Consultancy's ranking, the city was ranked 18th by the number of references on Google Trends and 52nd by the number of reviews on Manchester was also ranked 6th among the greenest cities in the world.

Glasgow was founded in 543. The city center is a mix of medieval and modern architecture
Glasgow was founded in 543. The city centre is a mix of medieval and modern architecture.

No. 96 - Glasgow, an industrial city with approximately equal income and a consistently low unemployment rate. The city is increasingly being chosen by founders of high-tech companies and startups - it is cheaper to rent offices and easier to find specialists.

The city is home to one of the world's oldest universities and the 4th oldest in the UK. Glasgow was awarded the title of City of Music by UNESCO in 2008. On average, there are around 100 music concerts in the city every week.

A residence permit in the UK can be applied for for business investment. The minimum investment amount is £2 million. The investor can include the spouse and minor children in the application in order for the whole family to move to the country.

Caribbean citizenship in the British Commonwealth of Nations - an option for visa-free travel to the UK. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis и Saint Luciaи can stay in the UK for up to 180 consecutive days. Passports of these Caribbean countries can be obtained for investment in the state economy - in the form of a one-time contribution, a real estate contribution, government bonds or business.


The Danube embankment in Vienna, Austria - the clash of classics and modernism
Danube Quay in Vienna, Austria - clash of classic and modernism

No. 31 - Vienna. Around 7.5 million tourists visit the Austrian capital each year. Among other things, they come to see the historic city centre, which was built up in the 17th century. Today it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Vienna is also famous for its coffee shops, some of which have also won UNESCO awards.

"Vienna Design Week” is the city's main cultural event. Over 200 exhibitions, events and workshops attract around 40,000 visitors annually. In 2020, the festival was held from 25 September to 4 October, the dates for 2021 are still unknown.

Vienna also took 1st place in the ranking of cities with the best ecology. The city has an accessible infrastructure, public transport, many museums and parks.

A residence permit in Austria for financially independent persons is suitable for wealthy people to live permanently in Austria. But you cannot work and do business in Austria with such a residence permit.

Residents of other EU countries can come to Austria without a visa. You can stay in Austria for up to 90 days in half a year.


View of the Zytturm Clocktower in Zurich, Switzerland. You can climb the clock tower to admire the old town and the Limmat River
View of the Zytturm Clocktower in Zurich, Switzerland. You can climb the clock tower to admire the old town and the Limmat River.

No. 36 - Zurich, which has been praised as a prosperous, clean, safe and multicultural city.

The city has a high standard of living. It is ranked 9th with low unemployment, 13th with higher education and 15th with GDP per capita.

Zurich is also one of the top 10 largest companies in the Global Fortune 500 by number of headquarters. It is the headquarters of the Swiss supermarket chain Migros, the financial holdings Credit Suisse and UBS AG

A residence permit for financially independent persons allows you to live in the country and travel in the Schengen area without a visa. The status can be obtained if you pay the chord tax annually – about 250 000 ₣.

Citizens and residents of EU countries can come to Switzerland without a visa, but it is possible to stay in the country for no more than 90 consecutive days in half a year.


Lisbon, Portugal: on top of a hill is the Castle of St. George - the main historical landmark of the city
Lisbon, Portugal: At the top of the hill is the Castle of St. George, the main historical landmark of the city.

No. 53 - Lisbon, capital of Portugal. It is a resort city with a warm climate: the sun shines in it about 2800 hours a year. For comparison, in Moscow there are 1731 sunny hours per year.

Lisbon is also one of the safest cities in the world - the authors of the rating made this conclusion after studying the statistics of the UN, EU and FBI.

Lisbon has a good ecology and many parks and squares. The city was ranked 15th in terms of the number of attractions.

In 2020, Lisbon received several awards as one of the best tourism cities in Europe according to the World Travel Awards. We talked about this in the material 'Portugal has collected 26 awards at the World Travel Awards 2020 and has become the most comfortable holiday destination in Europe'.

With a residence permit in Portugal, you can live, work and study in the country during the period of residence status. It is possible to apply for a residence permit for an investment of 250 000 €. The conditions of the programme allow the spouse and children of the investor under 26 to be included in the application.

With a residence permit or permanent residence permit from other EU countries, the UK and Switzerland you can come to Portugal for 90 days.


The Acropolis of Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Athens Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

No. 79 - Athens. It is an ancient city that attracts around 6 million tourists annually. Foreigners come here to see the famous Acropolis and take a walk at its foot along the Grand Promenade pedestrian route.

The city is one of the top 25 global rankings for the number of nightclubs and entertainment opportunities. Museums and archaeological sites took Athens to 34th place in the thematic category of the rating.

In November 2020, the international agency Moody's upgraded the credit rating of Greece from B1 to Ba3. The experts' decision was influenced by the reforms that the government has been implementing since 2018. They are aimed at sustainable economic development, improving tax legislation and fighting corruption. We talked about this in the material "When it is more profitable to invest in real estate in Greece: in 2020 or 2021".

The European Commission believes that Greece's economy will grow. Analysts estimate that the country's GDP will grow by 5% in 2021 and by 3.5% in 2022. We talked about the forecast in the article "European Commission: the economy of the European Union will start to grow from 2021".

A residence permit in Greece enables residents to live, work and conduct business in Greece. Residence status can be obtained for investments from 250 000 €.

Spouses, children under 21 and parents can participate in the programme together with the main investor.

With a residence permit from the European Union, the UK and Switzerland you can stay in Greece for a maximum of 90 days in half a year.

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Best cities to live in 2021 in countries with investment programmes