Edinburgh proves capital choice for lifestyle

Edinburgh's historic architecture and thriving cultural and academic reputation have earned it the moniker Athens of the North. Now it has been named the best city in the United Kingdom for quality of life.

The Scottish capital, with a population of just 400,000, has been voted the most desirable place to live by company executives in a survey of 33 of Europe's leading business cities.

One of the fastest growing cities in Europe, "Auld Reekie" (Old Smoky), as it was known, is also considered top for freedom from pollution, providing an ideal environment to bring up a family and enjoy life.

"We have always known that the quality of life is terrific in Edinburgh and that it has an extremely attractive city centre, so we are not surprised that it has scored well in this category," said David Davidson of Cushman & Wakefield, the global property firm that published the report.

"The beautiful architecture coupled with major international events such as the Edinburgh Festival and the new year celebrations keep Edinburgh on the map."

However the survey, which has been published for the first time as part of a wider European Cities Monitor, assessing the views of senior managers and board directors from 201 UK companies, found that Edinburgh still has some drawbacks.

The city was ranked as the most expensive place in which to park a car, faring even worse than London in the poll. It is also considered less desirable than its arch-rival Glasgow when it comes to being the best city to locate a business today. Glasgow was also ranked first choice of destination if setting up a new call centre, and first for relocating a new back-office function, beating Leeds and Manchester.

"Glasgow markets itself on the European stage and attracts a lot of positive publicity. For example by attempting to win the 2014 Commonwealth Games and trying to attract a supercasino to the city. Edinburgh, on the other hand, could be accused of being a bit complacent," said Mr Davidson, who claimed that some businesses were put off relocating to Edinburgh because of high property and staff costs.

Amanda Kremer, managing director of Thrive for Business, one of Scotland's leading networking organisations, said: "Edinburgh has been criticised in the past for being too parochial, but it isn't any more. Things have changed in recent years and are still changing. Edinburgh is a great place to start a business or relocate an existing one to. There has been huge investment poured into the city in recent years and many big names have moved here.

"Edinburgh is now almost universally recognised as a central location for businesses to flourish."

10 best cities

* The best UK cities in terms of quality of life for employees:

(1) Edinburgh

(2) Bristol

(3) Leeds

(4) Manchester

(5) London

(6) Cardiff

(7) Newcastle

(8) Glasgow

(9) Nottingham

(10) Sheffield