happy people, Quality of Life survey

Often, when cities are ranked, it's an informal process — coffee shop banter rooted in stereotype and inexperience. Short-sighted arguments like, "Toronto? Biggest town for crime on earth," and "The French are so snotty you wouldn't catch me dead in Paris."

Yet every once in a while a real authority on city ranking steps up and we all ought to listen. Mercer, the consulting firm, just released its 2011 Quality of Living survey, scoring the globe's top towns over a variety of cultural, economic and environmental indices*. Which cities are best to live in, and which Canadian town cracks the top 10? Click through to find out.

* Mercer's full list of ten measured categories: 1) political and social environment, 2) economic environment, 3) socio-cultural environment, 4) health and sanitation, 5) schools and education, 6) public services and transportation, 7) recreation, 8) consumer goods, 9) housing and 10) natural environment.

* Bing: What are Canada's most expensive cities?