Get up and go: the top cities for starting something new

Our inaugural annual guide to the best cities to live and work around the world in 2021.

How do you know when it’s time to pack up and move on? Many feel the itch but too often don’t act on it. But as cities move in and out of coronavirus lockdowns, the switch to working from home has taken hold and a new vision for urban living is emerging – leading many of us to reassess how we combine living with working to make us happiest.

Some of the truly global cities might end up struggling the most, with the likes of New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Sydney already seeing increasing outflows of residents in recent years. Yet we believe cities will not die but will, once again, transform. The way we move around, use parks, stores and restaurants is changing, and there will be a premium on outdoor space and a better work-life balance. So which cities should you move to? Which cities offer not only the best lifestyle but the best business opportunities? Welcome to Courier’s inaugural annual guide to the best cities to live and work around the world in 2021. 

Some of the most valuable urban assets are increasingly space and sunshine.

And if the future of social life is outside, then many of the western world’s biggest and most popular cities (for the moment, at least) have a problem. Enter Boulder, Canggu and, most notably, Honolulu, which was slow to modernise its economy but now sees independent businesses and stores packing its centre (complete with a crescent beach backed by palms).

You like exciting, busy cities, but want to be more creative…

Cities go in cycles: low property prices attract creatives; professionals move in; the artists leave; and around we go. This is happening in Mexico City, where ‘anything overblown is being sifted out’, bringing in lots of new residents with new ideas of what the city can become.

You’re scaling your new startup, but Silicon Valley isn’t for you. 

Austin has become one of the best cities in the world for technology, startups and innovation. But unlike many of the other places that share those traits, Austin offers a better work-life balance and a fast emerging creative scene.

For those in need of a completely fresh start... 

If you’re serious about starting over, in the ‘I want to move to a new city where I don’t know anyone’ way, then forget the US and Europe – the barriers to entry can be high and expensive. Look to southeast Asia – in particular, to young, fast-moving Ho Chi Minh.

Where artists go, others follow… 

While there are few international companies in Athens – which means lucrative jobs are less common than in other European capitals – the city is finally on the up. Here it’s high culture mixed with low, old with new and it is one of the places on those ‘most liveable cities’ lists where people actually love living. 

We’ve chosen the top cities for living, working and getting stuff done in 2021. Over the next few weeks we’ll be dropping new cities here each week so check back to see if your city made the cut. Get up and go to…

Mexico City: The climate is great, the cost of living is low and the city has a fast-growing food-and-drink and arts scene.

Ho Chi Minh City: It's a super-young, fast-moving and cheap place to set up something new.

Tel Aviv: Undoubtedly the Middle East’s tech, financial and startup hub.

Vancouver: The city's startup scene is as active as its outdoor adventure scene.

Austin: The tech hub is hitting its peak while remaining affordable.

Boulder: The city has become an unlikely hub for startups.

Tbilisi: The gritty but prospering city is full of opportunities in hospitality and design.

Athens: An exodus of talent since 2008 means lower competition and bigger opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs.

Taipei: One of the most progressive cities in the region, from infrastructure to civic rights.

Lyon: It’s like Paris – without the problems.

Cape Town: Along with the idyllic lifestyle, Cape Town offers a foothold on the African market.

Honolulu: The city offers a laid-back surfer lifestyle as well as a thriving tourism industry.

Detroit: There’s lots of affordable private and commercial property available.

Canggu: Its low operational costs, a large domestic market and plenty of tourists with cash (normally, at least) make Bali ripe for starting a business.

Find more of the top cities for starting something new in 2021.

This article was first published in Courier Issue 37, October/November 2020. To purchase the full issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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