Innovative and Sustainable Cities for a Good Life

Innovative and Sustainable Cities for a Good Life

The life on the city. Big or small, cities are thriving and buzzing hubs of people working towards personal and professional development, enjoying all the leisure offering, socialising  and contributing to a sense of close-together community.

With more than half of the world's population living in urban areas and projections indicating that by 2050 more than two thirds of people will live in urban areas, the equivalent to 7 billion people, cities have more than ever the pressing need to adapt and transform into liveable, healthy and human-ready spaces.

Have you been thinking about living for some time in a sustainable and innovative city, like coffee as much as you like an early morning cycle to work, like meeting city while at the same time enjoy the occasional anonymity of living among thousands of people? Sustainable and innovative cities is what you may be looking for, and we show you just a few of the ones we like.

What determines if a city is good for living?

All cities have their good and not so good things. Traffic, stress, temperature, working culture can all be things that put many people off from moving into a city. Although all cities need of their citizens to push for change and human centered transformation, there are key factors to look at when looking for sustainable and innovative cities to live at.


Although all cities offer a wider labour market and higher job mobility, some cities do not offer salaries that make up for living costs, rent is too expensive, or leisure may be just out of reach given salaries and type of industry the citizens work in. Before moving into any city check for the average salary in your chosen industry and look for number of job openings in the area. Look for the number of startups, often is a good indicative of a thriving business and innovative hub that tends to push salaries up. 


A rare and valuable feature to find in cities nowadays is green areas. After decades of giving priority to cement over trees and shade, our cities have turned into living ovens in summer, and grey themed spaces in winter. Lower carbon emissions, cleaner air, good waste and sewage management are all things that not only improve the health of citizens in cities but also make cities more stress free, happy and liveable for people.


How people friendly a city is depends on so many factors, but there are a few things to focus on that will make the early days in a new city immediately nicer. Language spoken in the city as well as how common is for people to speak good english, how good the public transport network is, and the culture of city will mean if a city is for someone or not. Think about what is important to you as a person and look for those things in cities, you will be ensuring you are a happy citizen.

Our Favourite Sustainable and Innovative Cities in Europe

This is our personal hand-picked list. We love dozens of other cities that are great for young people looking for balance between professional prospects as well as liveable and buzzing urban spaces. We chose based on:

- Average Monthly Net Salary (after Tax) of the city
- Average Price of Rent for 1 Bedroom Flat/Studio in City Centre
- % of public green space (parks and gardens) - Data
- Number of Startups
- Country Ranking for Happiness based on 3-year average (Report)
- Selection of cool Co-Working spaces
- Main language spoken and place on the EF English Proficiency Index


Average salary: 1864€
Average Rent: 1024€
% Green Areas: 11%
Nº Startups: Home to 1,900 startups
Happiness: Spain Place 29 in Ranking - 6.5 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: La Vaca, Aticco and MOB
Language: Main Language Spanish - Place 33 in the EF Index


Average salary: 3620€
Average Rent: 1706€
% Green Areas: 13%
Nº Startups: Home to 2,700 startups
Happiness: Netherlands Place 5 in Ranking - 7.4 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: TSH Collab and B.Amsterdam
Language: Main Language Dutch - Place 1 in the EF Index


Average salary: 3456€
Average Rent: 1598€
% Green Areas: 25%
Nº Startups: Home to 410 startups
Happiness: Denmark Place 2 in Ranking - 7.6 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: Republikken and Soho
Language: Main Language Danish - Place 3 in the EF Index


Average salary: 1111€
Average Rent: 1010€
% Green Areas: 22%
Nº Startups: Home to 500 startups
Happiness: Portugal Place 56 in Ranking - 6.0 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: Village Underground and Second Home
Language: Main Language Portuguese - Place 7 in the EF Index


Average salary: 3486€
Average Rent: 2163€
% Green Areas: 33%
Nº Startups: Home to 4489 startups
Happiness: UK Place 17 in Ranking - 6.9 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: Second HomeTobacco Dock and Work.Life
Language: Main Language English 


Average salary: 6883€
Average Rent: 2026€
% Green Areas: 41%
Nº Startups: Home to 372 startups
Happiness: Switzerland Place 4 in Ranking - 7.5 Happy Life Evaluation
Co-Working Spaces: Kraftwerk and Impact Hub
Language: Main Language Swiss-German - Place 25 in the EF Index


Have you got some recommendations of cities and tips you would like to share with the community? Know what the best speciality coffee is in your city? A neighbourhood that everyone should know about when visiting? Get in touch and let us know so you can share with everyone your experiences!


- Our World in Data
- Cities A List 2021
- World Economic Forum
- Startup Heatmap Europe by Deep
- World Happiness Report 2022
- Cost of Living Database