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Every year we gather the figures and crunch the numbers to determine the 25 cities around the world that boast the best quality of life. We look at how safe a city is, the amount of pleasant green space that one can retreat to and the cultural offerings on residents’ doorsteps. We believe that these are all very important factors when it comes to choosing a city in which to live.

But the truth is that not everyone’s idea of the good life relies on sprawling parks and ambitious infrastructure projects. In fact, some people would prefer to live in a place that prizes a fast and loose night of hedonism or a long beach over easy access to a bike lane. There are cities that would never make our final ranking but nonetheless teem with charm: a host of places to drink or hit the tiles, plenty of single people to date or perhaps a relaxed approach to rules and regulations. Don’t they deserve a nod as well?

After all, our cities are becoming more controlled, from stringent lock-out laws to dizzyingly high tariffs on our indulgences. Perhaps we should raise a glass, then, to the cities that swim against the tide, throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of a good time and don’t do things by half measures. We looked at a different data set in order to map out the best cities around the world for pursuing pleasure.

Rough round the edges

Vancouver’s adopted street corners would be rule-breakers elsewhere but these garden projects are welcome in this buttoned-up city.

Wine on the streets will not erode society. Toronto, New York and too many other cities please take note.

We’re not big fans of shopping malls but they’re necessary in São Paulo.

Chile is a country of epic vistas but is Santiago an exciting place to live? Is there a reason Chileans are known as the Canadians of Latin America?

With a dynamic fashion scene and solid manufacturing base, Beirut thrives because it’s not over-planned – workshops sit alongside design studios and make as much noise as they like.

Rome is never going to be a global aviation hub but who cares? Lufthansa will probably buy Alitalia and it will be the best management the carrier’s ever had.

Fresh approach

Bangkok has uneven pavements, tangles of cables overhead and belching sewers. It also has some of the best retail, restaurants and hospitality in the world right now.

Melbourne needs more messy, boisterous lanes – not less. Sydney, you could do with many more and cut loose a bit.

Taipei’s liberal approach to homosexuality has made it a beacon for a burgeoning creative community. There’s a reason so many Singaporeans flock there at the weekends.

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