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New York, London and Paris don't hold a candle to Auckland and Wellington, according to a worldwide quality of living survey.

The New Zealand cities ranked among the best in the Mercer 2009 Quality of Living survey, which covered 215 cities and was based on criteria including political, social, economic and environmental factors.

Auckland jumped one place from last year to join Canada's Vancouver in fourth place, while Wellington stayed 12th on the list.

Austrian capital Vienna took the No 1 spot, knocking Switzerland's Zurich and Geneva into second and third respectively.

Paris (France), Tokyo (Japan), London (England) and New York (United States) were in places 33, 35, 38 and 49 respectively.

Baghdad, in war-torn Iraq, claimed last place.

The global recession meant many organisations were reviewing international appointments and cities with favourable rankings had an advantage when it came to attracting expatriates, Mercer spokesman Rob Knox said.

"Despite the financial crisis, New Zealand remains a very attractive market for expats - particularly as a career development opportunity for high potentials."

Across the Tasman, Australian cities also ranked among the best places to live, with Sydney taking 10th, Melbourne 18th and Perth 21st.

Mr Knox said the results supported the case for companies sending staff to Australasia.

"Our major cities continue to tick all the boxes for expatriates who have access to established infrastructure and transport facilities, quality housing close to the city, a wide selection of restaurants and other amenities, as well as a good education and environment for their families.

"Economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region is outstripping most other parts of the world," Mr Knox said.

"Multinationals can send their high performers down under to gain experience in a mature market, but on the door step of, and with exposure to, one of the fastest moving regions in the world."

10 Best Cities:
1. Vienna (Austria)
2. Zurich (Switzerland)
3. Geneva (Switzerland)
4. Auckland (New Zealand) and Vancouver (Canada)
6. Dusseldorf (Germany)
7. Munich (Germany
8. Frankfurt (Germany)
9. Bern (Switzerland)
10. Sydney (Australia)

10 Worst Cities:
1. Baghdad (Iraq)
2. Bangui (Central African Republic)
3. Ndjamena (Chad)
4. Brazzaville (Congo)
5. Khartoum (Sudan)
6. Sanaa (Yemen Arab Republic)
7. Pointe Noire (Congo)
8. Nouakchott (Mauritania)
9. Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
10. Port au Prince (Haiti)

- NZPA