Australian cities have experienced a serious drop in global liveability rankings. 

The latest Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Global Liveability Index puts Melbourne in 10th place - the highest-ranked Australian city. Melbourne topped the list from 2011 to 2017 before being overtaken by Vienna, which was ranked first again this year. 

Adelaide was ranked second in last year's index but has now fallen to 30th, while Perth has dropped 26 spots to 32nd and Brisbane is down 17 spots to 27th.

EIU says its researchers assessed over 170 global cities in the categories of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

Melbourne rated highly for education and infrastructure, but was behind all other cities in the top 10 when it came to healthcare.

The EIU says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the main driver of moves in the liveability index, and with many western European cities having removed most of their COVID-19 restrictions, that part of the world is making significant climbs up the rankings.

“In Australia, some states were slower to lift restrictions than others. As a result, Perth and Adelaide have lost ground since last year,” the report says.

New Zealand cities were hit more severely in the rankings, with Auckland dropping from first place in last year's index, to 34th, and Wellington falling 46 spots to 50th.

Australia and New Zealand ranked high in early 2021 “when COVID vaccines were scarce: their closed borders kept cases down, keeping liveability high”, the EIU says. 

But these areas “no longer have a COVID advantage over well-vaccinated European and Canadian cities”, the researchers say.

The report is accessible here.