These five cities may not have made Monocle's Quality of Life index, but the magazine's urban experts say they "win in the simple living stakes." So while you might not want to pack up and move there, there are plenty of people who love living in Turin, Italy; Portland (Maine), USA; Tblisi, Georgia; Valparaíso, Chile; and Naha, Japan. Read on to find out why.
Monocle calls Turin the most overlooked city in Italy, but with none of Rome's congesting tourist trade or any of Milan's self-conscious slickness, Turin boasts a convivial atmosphere and thriving design community that seeks to balance out the city's baroque roots with modern architecture. With the its long history of producing and exporting coffee and chocolate, "taking a coffee or even a rich Bicherin chocolate is an art form" in one of many decadent cafes originally built for visiting royalty.
You might be surprised to find Portland, Maine listed here, as opposed to its West coast compatriot, but Monocle noted an "ambitious dining scene grounded in progressive principles" that's outsized for its 60,000-person population. With a strong farmers market scene and over two dozen micro breweries, Portland is engaged with their community and is clearly looking to attract young entrepreneurs.
With a multitude of modern, contemporary structures updating the austere architecture of its former Soviet occupiers, Georgia's capital city is noted for its "romantic, passionate and indefatigably hospital" inhabitants as well as the influx of young Georgians coming back home to start businesses of their own. The tide of younger generations settling in has inspired some exciting infrastructural changes, like the new cable car that run from Buddha Bar at the waterfront to a mountaintop castle, literally bridging the Tblisi's past and present.
Though this "chaotic Victorian port city" has admittedly dodged much 20th-century progress, it's also avoided a few 20th-century pitfalls as well, namely large shopping malls that might well have drained Valparaiso of its charm. Instead of new, hi-rise condos, oddly shaped houses and crooked staircases are nestled into the city's winding streets and much of the local shopping is still conducted at street markets. Still, it's ready to embrace the 21st-century, albeit slowly. Older buildings are readily being renovated and repurposed, like a former prison that is now home to an art center with galleries and theatres.
The languid, markedly un-Japanese pace in this small, sub-tropical coastal city stems from its location almost 1,000 miles away from Tokyo—and the residents like it that way. Monocle observed that suits would be completely out of place in Naha, where "even office workers go about their business in brightly patterned sleeved shirts." Naha's individualistic spirit is due, no doubt, to the fact that it was an independent country for centuries before becoming the capital of Okinawa.