2019 Generation Z City Index

The Best Cities for Generation Z

At Nestpick we’re interested in understanding what makes cities stand out for different demographics. Following our previous studies on the best cities for millennials, we decided to now focus on Generation Z—the most digitally connected age group who will be embracing the age of artificial intelligence. With the first wave of graduates about to enter the job market this year, Gen Z-ers are becoming more vocal about their expectations for the future, and refuse to settle for homes that fail to meet their needs. To understand this evolving demographic, we piloted a study determining which cities are making themselves attractive destinations to appeal to the creators, advocates, and pioneers of tomorrow.

To guide the study, we first needed to define and contextualize Generation Z. According to the Pew Research Center, those born between 1997-2012 are considered to be a member of Gen Z due to common key social, political, and technological circumstances. Born into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a post-9/11 world, the climate crisis, and a recession, Gen Z-ers are known to be digital natives who value security, diversity, and autonomy, and aim to achieve it through pragmatism and determination.

A shortlist of prominent, international cities were selected based on their reputation as destinations to pursue work and education, as well as those who have shown initiative to act on the demands of previous generations such as Millennials and Generation X. The degree of digitalization was first measured through factors such as e-governance, connectivity, and e-banking. We wanted to find out to what extent a city supports Gen Z principles and scored their social equality, internationalism, and climate commitment. Next, a leisure score was determined by measuring the prevalence of e-gaming events and concerts. Finally, a business score was evaluated based on the entrepreneurial spirit fostered by a city through factors such as the strength of the AI industry, social entrepreneurship, and affordability.

The final result is an index composed of 22 factors ranking cities worldwide based on their recognition of, and initiatives to prepare for this new, up-and-coming generation.

Top five cities for Generation Z

Top five cities prepared for Generation Z’s digital needs

Each individual column is ranked highest to lowest and is filterable. Each factor has been given a score out of 100, the higher the figure, the better the city performs. On smaller screens and monitors, viewers may need to scroll the table horizontally in order to see all data. The full methodology explaining how each factor was measured for each city is at the bottom of the page.

  Digital Principles Leisure Business Score
Rank City Country Total Score


Following on from previous iterations evaluating the best cities for millennials, the Best Cities for Generation Z 2019 focuses on the latest demographic whose oldest members are in the process of graduating from university and entering the workforce. This index is composed of 22 indicators ranking 110 cities worldwide based on their recognition of, and initiatives to prepare for this new, up-and-coming generation.


According to the Pew Research Center, those born between 1997-2012 are considered to be a member of Gen Z. Despite the lack of a definitive boundary separating Millennials and Generation Z, 1996 was selected due to the common key social, political, and technological circumstances that forms the foundation of each generation. Gen Z-ers are known to be digital natives who value security, diversity, and autonomy, and aim to achieve it through pragmatism and determination.


A shortlist of prominent, international cities were selected based on their reputation as destinations to pursue work and education, as well as those who have shown initiative to act on the demands of previous generations such as Millennials and Generation X. Originally, 100 cities were chosen for the final index, however 10 additional locations that are rising in economic strength were included in order to offer a more representative overview. The final selection of 110 cities is further based on the feasibility of collecting extensive, reliable data for the factors used to assess their livability, as well inclusion at a global scale.


The study focuses on four broad categories with the following factors outlined below that determine the extent to which a city is attractive to live for Gen Z and embraces their values.

  • Digital: Government Digitalisation, Connectivity/5G, Digital Payment & Banking, Digitalised Mobility/Sharing Economy, Digitalised Social Habits, Education, Privacy & Security
  • Principles: Internationalism, Gender Equality, LGBT+ Equality, Environmental Action, Access to Mental Healthcare, Access to Healthcare, Safety, and Right to Protest
  • Leisure: Esports, Concerts
  • Business: Entrepreneurial Spirit & Innovation, Affordability, Social Entrepreneurship, AI Industry, Co-Working Spaces
  • All factors as well as the overall total are measured as scores, and are valued between 1 and 100, where 1 is the lowest attainable score in the dataset and 100 is the highest. A value of 100 does not mean a city is perfect and has no need for improvement. Instead, it indicates that the city performs the best out of all locations in the index. In a similar regard, a score of 1 indicates that the city performs the weakest in comparison to the other cities in the study. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily imply that the city has no ability to attract Generation Z, nor is it uninhabitable for the demographic in a wider global context.

    This score for each factor is obtained directly from the raw data and implements a normalisation of the form:

    Score(i) = 99 * ( ( (x(i) - x(min) ) / ( (x(max) - x(min) ) ) + 1

    After the collected data was normalised and determined for each factor, a weighted average to create a final score for each overall category (Digital, Principles, Leisure, Business) was calculated and normalised.

    The final total score for each city was then determined by calculating the sum of the weighted average score of the indicators under each category, which has been normalised in order to create a final result between 1 and 100 as follows:

    TOTAL SCORE = WEIGHTED AVERAGE (Digital factor scores) + WEIGHTED AVERAGE (Principles factor scores) + WEIGHTED AVERAGE (Leisure factor scores) + WEIGHTED AVERAGE (Business factor scores)


    Government Digitalisation

    The performance of national administrations in e-gov development. The score looks at three indicators including the provision of online services, investments in telecommunication infrastructure and implementing capacity-building in human capital.

    Source: 2018 United Nations E-government Development Index.


    The measure of a city’s existing high-speed communication infrastructure, as well as its preparedness and willingness to incorporate Next Generation Technology. This score comprises the average mobile and city broadband speeds at a national-level, as well as the availability, trial or planned implementation of localised 5G services.

    Sources: Ookla Speedtest and 5G map, testmy.net, cable.co.uk

    Digital Payment & Banking

    The measure of a government’s efforts to enable e-payment options, the prevalence of digital payment as a method, and the readiness of a city to embrace cashless transfers. All of the data included in this factor has been collected at a national level.

    Sources: 2018 EIU Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking, G4S 2018 World Cash Report, Hootsuite/We Are Social 2018 Global Digital Report.

    Digitalised Mobility/Sharing Economy

    The strength of a city’s peer-to-peer (P2P) ecosystem, with a focus on online shared mobility services such as bike-sharing and ride-hailing. The score for this factor uses both city-level and national-level data.

    Sources: 2018 Timbro Sharing Economy Index, 2019 Coya Bicycle Cities Index, ADL 2018 Future of Mobility Report, 2019 Easypark Smart Cities Index, Uber, Bike Share Map, and other sources.

    Digitalised Social Habits

    The measure of mobile social media use, as well as the percentage of residents using digital services to manage daily life events and stay informed. The score for this factor uses data at a national level.

    Source: Hootsuite/We Are Social 2018 Global Digital Report.


    The extent to which cities offer students the educational means to be prepared for a technology-driven, knowledge-based world. The score is comprised of the number of higher education institutions which offer degrees in computer science, technology, and innovation-focused programmes within a 200km radius of a city centre.

    Source: Times Higher Education 2019 World University Rankings

    Privacy & Security

    A measure of the commitment a government has to protect user privacy and online security. The score includes the scope of digital privacy legislation, the prohibition of VPNs, as well as the level of security for an internet user’s personal information. The data for this factor was collected at a national level.

    Sources: The French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), National Cyber Security Index, Kaspersky, TheBestVPN



    The percentage of foreign-born citizens in a city measured as a score. City-level data was used for this factor, except for Doha where national-level data was used to estimate its value.

    Sources: OECD, Eurostat, George Washington University department of Globalization, Urbanization and Migration, official statistics departments, other sources.

    Gender Equality

    Gender parity measured as a score at a national-level. Values include data on health, political empowerment, educational attainment, economic opportunity and participation at a national level for both men and women.

    Additional state-level data was used for U.S. cities.

    Sources: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, WalletHub Best States for Womens’ Rights.

    LGBT+ Equality

    A measure of a city’s acceptance towards the LGBT+ community at a social and legislative level.

    Sources: Nestpick Best LGBT Cities, Spartacus 2019 Gay Travel Index, Teleport, Nomadlist.

    Environmental Action

    The performance of national government initiatives to promote sustainability and environmental health, as well as the annual mean pm2.5 (ug/m3) at a city-level.

    Sources: 2018 Environmental Performance Index, World Health Organisation, Berkeley Earth, other sources.

    Access to Mental Healthcare

    The accessibility and effectiveness of governments in implementing mental health policies aimed to care for individuals with mental health illnesses and assist their integration into society. The factor uses national data, and state-level data for US cities.

    Sources: Jannsen/EIU Mental Health Integration Index, Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation, local statistics departments.

    Access to Healthcare

    The level of accessibility residents have to quality healthcare services. Scores for this factor use country-level data which evaluates the costs, accessibility and outcomes of healthcare. For U.S. cities, state level data was used.

    Source: Institute for Health and Metrics Evaluation


    The degree of safety experienced by members of society at a city level. The score includes aspects such as personal and infrastructural security, as well as perceived safety by individuals.

    Sources: EIU 2017 Safe Cities Index, 2019 Global Residence Index, Social Progress Index, FBI, Eurostat, other sources.

    Right to Protest

    The freedom of residents to assemble and organise without fear of retaliation. The score measures the existence of legislation protecting demonstrators, NGOs and labour/trade unions, and accounts for the degree of violent protests and political terror. This indicator uses country-level data.

    Sources: Freedom House, 2019 Global Peace Index



    The extent to which a city is equipped to foster a strong esports culture. This score considers city-level data on the number of major esports tournaments, average maximum internet speed, the number of gaming companies, a city’s reputation for being a gaming hub, and the national percentage of global traffic on Steam, a video game digital distribution platform.

    Sources: Esportsearnings.com, Steam, Testmy.net, Ookla, Gamedevmap, Centurylink, Lionbridge.


    The strength of a city’s music scene based on the number of scheduled gigs, as a score. Values represent the number of events in a location within the period of a year (August 2019-2020).

    Sources: Songkick, Bandsintown, Viagogo


    Entrepreneurial Spirit & Innovation

    The ease of starting a business and strength of the existing start-up culture in a city, supplemented by the level of knowledge, technology, and creative outputs at a national level. The score includes the necessary costs and time dedicated to incorporating a business, the number of start-ups in a city, and the strength of a logistics ecosystem.

    Sources: World Bank Doing Business Report, Global Innovation Index 2019, AngelList, Crunchbase, Cargo Facts 2016, other sources.

    Coworking Spaces

    A score based on the number of co-working desk and private spaces per city as registered on Coworker.com, in relation to the size of the population.

    Source: coworker.com


    The score is based on the cost of living per month at the city level.

    Source: Numbeo City Price Index

    Social Entrepreneurship

    The number of “social entrepreneur” start-ups per city registered on Crunchbase, and the perceived level of support and favorability of conditions to start and grow a business. There is no firm consensus on a definition for “Social Entrepreneurship”, however to guide this research, it is defined as both profit and non-profit ventures which focus on maximising gains in social satisfaction, rather than maximising profit. Crunchbase search terms included: ‘Sustainability’, ‘CleanTech’, ‘GreenTech, ’Microlending’, and ‘Non-profit’.

    Sources: Crunchbase, Reuters Poll - Best Places to be a Social Entrepreneur 2019, Baron, David P. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship." Journal of Economics & Management Strategy.

    AI Industry

    The number of businesses associated with artificial intelligence in a given city, as a score. Crunchbase search keyword included: ‘Artificial Intelligence’, ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Predictive Analytics’, ‘Natural Language Processing’, ‘Intelligent Systems’.

    Sources: Asgard 2018 Global Artificial Intelligence Landscape Database, Crunchbase

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