Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal rank among the world’s most Gen Z friendly cities, analysis from Nestpick, a global database for furnished apartment and room rentals, concludes. The recently released study assesses and scores 110 cities on 22 indicators — broadly falling into the categories of digital infrastructure, societal openness, leisure pursuits and business culture — deemed to support and/or influence the age cohort born between 1997 and 2012.
Toronto emerges as the fourth most welcoming locale after London, Stockholm and Los Angeles, and one notch above New York. Vancouver takes the number 10 position, sandwiched between Amsterdam and Paris, while Montreal occupies the 15th slot and is the second most affordable city in the top-15 after 12th-ranked Manchester, U.K.. Ottawa, placed 42nd, and Quebec City, placed 54th, round out Canadian representation on the list defined as “prominent international cities … selected based on their reputation as destinations to pursue work and education”.
Although pre-teens may not yet be contemplating such moves, the young adults at Gen Z’s leading edge largely fill post-secondary labs and lecture halls and are steadily entering the workforce. Nestpick’s founder and chief executive officer, Ömer Kücükdere, notes they’ve grown up in a digitally connected world fraught with economic and environmental turmoil, giving them inherently different reference points than Millennials or Generation X before them.
“Despite the vast amount of livability indexes, there has been no study focusing on Generation Z with their ideals and values in mind, until now,” he maintains. “Taking a values-centric approach to this study, we looked into which cities around the world best understand, advocate and embody the principles Gen Z-ers prioritize.”
In addition to topping Nestpick’s list of best cities for Generation Z, London is also where the online marketing platform does the most business. As of Sept 16, it offered more than 10,200 listings of accommodations in the city versus a combined total of about 7,000 listings in the other top-5 cities. Stockholm, with 394 listings, and Toronto, with 767 listings, trail London’s tally most significantly, while there are 2,510 listings in Los Angeles and 3,330 listings in New York.
This perhaps underpins Kücükdere’s enthusiasm. “London has shown how it is at the forefront of digitalization, advocacy, entertainment and business. Brexit or not, London has shown it has the foundations to continue magnetizing Generation Z for the long-term,” he submits.
The 22 indicators cover a range of practical and lifestyle considerations, from affordability to the prevalence of E-sports, in an effort to gauge each city’s ability to support health, safety, personal freedoms, convenience and human interaction. The city with the highest score for each indicator is automatically assigned 100 points. The same practice is used for the total score, somewhat obscuring the actual gap between London and Stockholm’s second highest total score of 89.88.
Toronto’s total score is 86.20; Vancouver’s is 82.48; and Montreal’s is 80. Farther down the rankings, Ottawa scores 71.88 and Quebec City scores 66.58.
National data is used to determine scores for eight of the indicators with some state-level differentiation applied for cities in the United States. As a result, cities in the same country have identical or largely similar scores for more than a third of the indicators.
Fulfilling basic needs and lifestyle preferences
Canadian cities do not achieve the top scores for any of the 22 indicators, but are highly placed for access to healthcare, safety, environmental quality, right to protest and start-ups targeting “social satisfaction” over profit. Canada likewise makes a strong showing across most of the seven indicators in the digital infrastructure category.
All five cities are tied for fourth (based on national level data) for digital payment options. Also based on national level data, Canadian cities fall behind several European countries, but ahead of the U.S. for online security and user privacy, whereas as digital social habits are deemed less ingrained in Canada than in the U.S.
Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto make the top 20 for connectivity and high-speed communications, with Vancouver and Quebec City also cracking the top 30. Vancouver is ranked ninth for digital peer-to-peer networks such as bike-sharing and ride-hailing, while Toronto is 28th and Montreal is 35th. Toronto is ranked 10th, Montreal 19th and Vancouver 21st for technology-based education programs.
The study’s sponsors note that 14 of the 20 cities deemed to offer the best fit for Gen Z are also found among the 50 least affordable cities. Montreal, ranked 42nd for affordability, is the only North American exception. Manchester, Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany, and Gothenburg and Malmo in Sweden round out the group of six.
Rankings for the indicator are based on the monthly cost of living in the city — a scale that appears to peg Toronto as the fifth costliest in the top 20 after New York, San Francisco, Copenhagen and Paris. Across all 110 cities, the Swiss cities of Zurich, Geneva and Bern, and Oslo, Norway, are rated less affordable than New York. The most affordable North American city is Mexico City, ranked fifth for affordability and 87th overall, while the most affordable European city is Bucharest, Romania, ranked ninth for affordability and 86th overall.
Quebec City is the only Canadian city to receive the automatic one-point score, assigned to the city with the lowest score for each indicator, for its quotient of businesses involved in artificial intelligence. In contrast, Toronto scores 70.37 for the indicator and is ranked 7th among the 110 cities.
Meanwhile, Quebec City significantly outdistances Canadian counterparts for entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. With a score of 73.4, Quebec’s capital places 13th for the indicator, which measures the number of start-ups, costs and time expenditure to incorporate a business and local logistics. Vancouver follows in 46th with a score of 56.77 then Toronto in 48th with a score of 54.54.
With the exception of Quebec City, Canadian cities post their lowest scores for the E-sports indicator. That’s also a common pattern across the entire database, in which 45 cities register scores of less than five. Toronto’s score of 23 is the lowest in the top five, but is still good enough to rank 20th out of the 110 cities. Vancouver is Canada’s next highest ranking E-sports centre with a score of 18.8.
Canadian performance is better for the other measured leisure pursuit — concerts. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver rank in the top 40 cities, but well behind the five leaders: London, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Paris.