If you want a good quality of life, Helsinki's your city

<!--StartFragment--> YES<br /><strong>ZOE STRIMPEL</strong><br /><br />
<div>THAT London hasn&rsquo;t made it into the top 50 places to live in the Economist Intelligence Unit&rsquo;s liveability survey doesn&rsquo;t surprise me. These types of lists are compiled using utterly colourless criteria that bear little relation to what makes life worth living. Admittedly, Helsinki, Vienna and Zurich (all in the top 10) are probably cleaner, so you could eat off the pavements with greater safety than you could do in London. Life is, quite possibly, more predictable, logistically simpler, cheaper and more fragrant.<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>Big deal. If I had to choose between a clean, well-run city in northern Europe, Australia or Canada, or grubby, frustrating and inconvenient London, I&rsquo;d go for London every time. Because here, there are great rewards to be had from braving the wayward Tube and the unpredictable buses. They include the best theatre, museums and restaurants, the most glamorous bars, the most beautiful architecture, the loveliest parks and the best afternoon tea in the world. This is the stuff that gives life meaning and colour &ndash; I&rsquo;d rather be able to spend my afternoons picnicking in a Royal Park than rejoicing in flawless infrastructure.<br />&nbsp;</div>
But London&rsquo;s so expensive, you say. Well, it&rsquo;s taken a knocking over the past year, and I challenge you to find me another top city in which a world-class three-course lunch could be had for &pound;15, as it is at Michelin-starred Arbutus on Frith Street. As for property prices, take a look at Manhattan, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi and Delhi and London&rsquo;s &nbsp;don&rsquo;t look so bad. There&rsquo;s a reason London is the tourist&rsquo;s and immigrant&rsquo;s favourite &ndash; people are happy to forgo low prices and a controlled, efficient atmosphere for a dose of beauty and life. <br /><br />NO<br /><strong>JEREMY HAZLEHURST</strong><br /><br />LET me sketch out the reasons why London is said to be the greatest city in the world: it is cosmopolitan, has brilliant restaurants, a thriving arts scene, lovely pubs, amazing architecture and green spaces. The museums are wonderful (and mostly free) and the City is the centre of the world&rsquo;s economy.&nbsp;<br />
<div>So much for the tourist brochure. It might be true that London is all those things, but it is also dirty, crowded and frustrating. Public transport is decrepit and when it had not been closed down by greedy Tube-drivers it has been scuppered by a few flakes of snow. And it closes far too early (as do the pubs; 24-hour city? Yeah, right). Oh, and housing is hideously expensive.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>The partisanship for London has the same roots as people who support their local football teams despite it last lifting a cup when the world was black and white. Londoners&rsquo; pride in their city is sweet, but irrational. We might be eternal optimists and claim that the ability to have a pint on the street is the only thing that matters, but it&rsquo;s a daft claim.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</div>
<div>The survey looked at quality of healthcare, culture, environment and infrastructure. True, not the most exciting criteria, but they do matter. Maybe for a gallivanting 20-year-old or an oligarch with a townhouse in Mayfair these things are irrelevant, but after a decade of dodging rats and breathing in carbon monoxide, Vienna&rsquo;s electric trams and well-designed housing start to look attractive.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</div>
Eight million people can&rsquo;t be wrong, you might say, but I disagree. People don&rsquo;t live in London because it&rsquo;s particularly great, it&rsquo;s because it is the one city in Britain that really offers opportunities for ambitious people. It is the only game in town. Let&rsquo;s accept that, put the tub-thumping to one side &ndash; and book a minibreak to lovely Helsinki.&nbsp;&nbsp; <!--EndFragment-->