The RYOT team was shocked to read TIME.com’s list of best and worst places to live, which they published this week. Believe it or not, OUR list is exactly the opposite of theirs — city for city! Check it out:
Top 10 Worst Cities
1. Zurich, Switzerland
A new law passed by voters in Zurich allows prostitutes to entertain johns in a way usually reserved for ordering burgers — in drive-in booths. Have these people lost their moral compasses? Are they trying to tell these prostitutes that they are no better than burgers? Horrific message of objectification, if you ask us.
2. Auckland, New Zealand
If theft gets so bad in your city that the entire country of China has to issue a warning to their travelers about it, you know shit has gotten out of hand. That’s over 1 billion people who are afraid to come to this city. Literally 1 in 7 people on this earth have been warned not to go to Auckland. In a city that overcrowded, it’s no surprise that pickpockets are having a heyday. It’s a simple case of supply and demand, really. Stay away.
3. Munich, Germany
Gee honey, I just read this great article titled, “Rapists run wild at Oktoberfest” and I really think we should move to Munich! Celebrations this year were not halted despite several cases of serious sexual assault. What kind of city can’t keep 3.5 million foreigners under control for a mere 16 day period when they have come for the sole purpose of getting shitfaced? Disgraceful.
4. Vancouver, Canada
Are these TIME writers serious drug-addicts? That is actually a completely logical theory, given that you can get your hands on crack faster than pizza in Vancouver. You can also shoot heroin legally in designated “shooting galleries.” Pot doubles as currency. If you want organized crime running your city’s biggest industry, be our guest, move to a city where nightclub shootings and drug overdoses are par for the course on weeknights. Just look at their most esteemed citizens, the Olympic gold-medal-winning women’s hockey team, parading their hedonism around the rink:
Oh, and it also rains every day of the year, except for the days when it just “precipitates.”
5. Dusseldorf, Germany
We found this shocking video of two homeless men beating one another while young Germans look on and laugh. What society breeds this kind of sheer indifference?
6. Vienna, Austria
Sure, great place if you’re death-obsessed like the rest of the city. The country’s morbid obsession is no doubt related to its high suicide rate. This socialist country even has a socialized undertaking service if you can’t afford a proper burial after your suicide, with hearses branded with the same department of public works logo as the subway cars.
7. Bern, Switzerland
The city of Bern has an unusually high rate of suicide by jumping—more than 28 percent of all suicides. Plus, it’s where Kim-Jung Un (son of notorious Kim-Jung Il) went to school. We’re sure the two are somehow related.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
Noise pollution is not a well-known environmental problem. Yet, its effects on health and well-being are worse than you could ever imagine. Denmark is one of the worst affected European countries with 70 per cent of the population suffering from this affliction every day. Dario Bosio documents one woman’s horrific experience in Copenhagen:
9. Geneva, Switzerland
This is an unbelievably racist city in an even more racist country. Case in point, in 2007, the Swiss introduced a law that all members of local communities would have to vote on your citizenship application before you could win a passport. Since they did, Muslims, Jews, Balkans, Africans, and Asians have been disproportionately rejected. In 2008, a disabled man from Kosovo was rejected on the grounds that, A) he was disabled and this would cost his community money and B) he was a Muslim. In other words, the system works well. We’re appalled. Also, this was a Swiss election poster in 2007:
10. Frankfurt, Germany
How did this even make the TIME.com list? Based on 2010 crime stats it is literally Germany’s most dangerous city. It has the largest number of murder and manslaughter cases per 100,000 residents, and recorded nearly 6 million crimes last year. We don’t even want to put any jokes in this section out of respect for all the millions of people who have been victims of crime in this awful place.
Top 10 Best Cities
1. Bagdad, Iraq
Bagdad used to be one of the greatest centers of learning and culture in the Islamic world, not to mention a hot spot on the “hippie trail.” Its museum collections contained some of the most important pieces of history in the world. Oh, so what happened to put it at the top of TIME’s “Worst” list? Well, the short answer is us. After the U.S. invasion in 2003, the museum was looted, the city destroyed and now we all associate it with George W.’s long lost WMDs and PTSD.
2. Bangui, Central African Republic
We’d be remiss not to remind readers that, A) Bangui has just about the best nightlife in all of Central Africa, and B) the natural beauty of the country is staggering. The Chutes de Boali go from a mere trickle during the dry season to a behemoth falls dwarfing Niagara during the rainy season. What’s funny is the water is controlled by a huge Chinese-built dam upriver, so the C.A.R. can barely claim it as their own. But regardless, you should make the trek to see it at some point in your life. The Chinese typically release some water on Sunday for the tourists.
3. Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The RYOT co-founders have 6 years of experience living in Haiti, so trust us when we say it has hands down the best nightlife in the Caribbean. Haiti is never boring. I don’t know if we can say the same thing about many other places we’ve been. Walk down the historic streets of its capital city, Port-au-Prince, or visit the reopened National Museum, which houses the anchor of Columbus’ Santa Maria and the incredible story of the Haitian revolution (SPOILER: The French sued Haiti for freeing themselves from slavery and Haiti paid the full 150 million francs. And you wonder why it’s such a poor country). Just a short distance outside the city are untouched, white beaches and only a 3 hour drive to the south will take you to Isle A’Vache, considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.
4. N’Djamena, Chad
Each region in Chad has its own unique varieties of music and dance, and you can find them all in N’Djamena. Listen to the amazing sounds being made by instruments you’d be hard-pressed to find in the States: single-reeded flutes, five-string kindes, wakas (long trumpets), lutes and fiddles. Unfortunately, there has been a history of violence, especially in the north Aouzou Strip since the United States and France began providing weapons and training to protect their oil interests.
5. Khartoum, Sudan
This is the likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as “God’s Land”; its first mention dates to the 25th century BCE, which means that this land has been inhabited longer than just about anywhere else on earth. Souq Omdurman is also in Khartoum and is one of the largest markets in Africa. It’s a great place for a treasure-hunt. Much like in Chad, U.S. interests destabilized an already fragile country when it began selling Sudan a great deal of military arms and equipment around 1976, hoping to counteract Soviet support of Marxist Ethiopians and Libyans. Military sales peaked in 1982 at $101 million USD.
6. Sana’a, Yemen
Come on, the SEAFOOD. Forget Tokyo, Sana’a has the world-famous Alshaybani Restaurant, which may have the best seafood in the Middle East. Get the grilled fish with local bread, then top it off with banana cake and honey.
7. Brazzaville, Congo
Brazzaville is all about the style and night life. Start your night at La Maison Blanche, which has three levels of dancing and a lower level terrace where you can buy and enjoy the finest roasted goat and chicken for less than a dollar. Most clubs in Brazzaville stay open until sunrise, so plan on wearing some seriously comfortable shoes. The best Afro Pop bands always swing through Brazzaville, so stick around long enough and watch the best of the best perform live all year long. Unfortunately, there is continuing violence in the country, mostly driven by the French- and U.S.-backed oil companies Elf and Occidental Petroleum.
8. Tbilisi, Georgia
This ancient city oozes timelessness. It could be any decade in the last century — until you see the cars and cell phones. With an up-and-coming art scene, Tbilisi is turning into a hip destination for young artists, musicians and poets traveling around Eastern Europe.
9. Nouakchott, Mauritania
This city is becoming a popular spot with adventure surfers. Travel from the breaks in northern Senegal to the beaches just south of Nouakchott. Camping is allowed on most beaches, so make a fire and enjoy the millions of stars. After your morning set, head into the city and check out Restaurant El-Bahdja, the best in NW Africa. The tajine is a must. Then wander the market, sit and drink tea with old folks, and watch kids scream and giggle while they kick deflated soccer balls through the narrow streets.
10. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
… Is the spot. Not only was it the destination of RYOT co-founder David Darg’s honeymoon, but it is also the coolest city in Central Africa. Kinshasa has it all, from the storied history of Henry Stanley to the Rumble in the Jungle. Take a morning swim in the Congo River, shop the market in the afternoon, then dance all night at N’Temba. Kinshasa feels trendy and cosmopolitan. It will also give you the opportunity to brush up on your French, since it is the largest francophone urban area after Paris.
RYOT NOTE: “Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.” African Proverb. Ok so we don’t really think Khartoum is the best place to live, the best place is probably some island paradise that we don’t even know about yet. But the point of this piece is that it’s easy to generalize and write a place off based on your viewpoint. We’re tired of the media perpetuating the myth that places like Haiti and Yemen are miserable. Sure places have their problems but if all we do is focus on the problems we stifle foreign investment, tourism and some of the things that help nations grow. RYOT was founded to give a voice to the “lions”, help us do it by donating to the RYOT Foundation and sharing this story.