In a study of 118 cities, the group found Vancouver in second place with Toronto and Montreal also in the top 10. Singapore was the leading Asian city in ninth place.
US cities, pulled down by problems of crime and personal security, fared badly in the report by the Geneva-based Corporate Resources Group (CRG). Their top scorer was Boston, coming 30th on the list, while New York was 44th.
CRG, which provides personnel consulting to companies in 30 countries, based its findings on the level of security, public services, medical and health structures and political and social stability.
In the bottom 10 were the three big crime-hit centres of the former Soviet Union - Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia and Kiev, now the capital of independent Ukraine.
Also among the worst 10 performers were the Chinese cities of Peking, Shanghai and Canton. Algiers came bottom.
The CRG said US cities - among which San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago came in at 31st, 33rd and 34th positions - scored highly on political stability, availability of goods and quality of medical services.
Asia, it found, was "a world of extremes". Some of its major cities were in the top and the bottom of the table. Scoring well were Tokyo and Osaka in Japan.
Also high were Australia's Sydney in 13th place, Melbourne in 19th, Perth in 23rd and Brisbane in 25th. The New Zealand capital, Wellington, came in 20th.
In Africa, only Johannesburg in 58th place and Tunis in 70th fared relatively well.
In Europe there were startling contrasts between east and west. Apart from Geneva, four west European cities were in the top 10 - Vienna, Luxembourg, Zurich and Dusseldorf. Paris came 24th, three below London.
In East Europe, top performers were Leipzig in the former East Germany in 56th place, Budapest in 60th and Prague on 69th.
Latin America also lagged behind. It showed considerable differences between Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Santiago which had a relatively high quality of life, and Bogota, Lima and Guatemala City.