Monocle's 'Small Cities Index' points you to the compact civic spots that offer rich culture, varied careers and progressive planning alongside plenty of room to breathe. In 2021 they've reconfigured The Forecast’s Small Cities Index by focusing on settlements of fewer than 250,000 people that offer incredible quality of life and are led by smart, trustworthy leaders. They must also have all the other assets that make any city tick, whatever its size: buzzing nightlife, great business opportunities, welcoming populations and good connections to the wider world.
Leuven ticks all those boxes, ranking the city 2nd worldwide. We quote the magazine: "Although Leuven is only a 20-minute train ride from Brussels and the capital’s international airport, this picturesque Belgian stad of 100,000 inhabitants feels nothing like a sleepy suburb of the capital. Perhaps it’s the young, globally minded population that makes Leuven – home to one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe – wonderfully vibrant year-round. The world-class beers (Stella Artois among them) that pour out of the 30 or so breweries in the vicinity also contribute to Leuven’s outgoing nature."
"Nightlife and education aside, the innovation and technology sectors are thriving, attracting professional talent well beyond university age for work opportunities and industry events, such as the And& innovation festival. The town’s residents cover 171 nationalities, leading city hall to launch the International House Leuven centre, which aims to provide expats and their families with support on housing, social integration and job opportunities. Regular information evenings and guided city walks help newcomers find their bearings, while English is widely spoken throughout the town – it’s taught to children from a young age."
"Many of the people-focused initiatives such as these are the fruit of Leuven’s progressive mayor, Mohamed Ridouani, whose ambitious urbanism policies and strong ideas on sustainability helped the city to win the European capital of innovation award in 2020. During his time as mayor and previously deputy mayor, Ridouani has initiated an positive mobility plan to clear the city centre of cars by creating pedestrian zones and new cycle lanes, and investing in a better bus network. The number of journeys made by bicycle rose by 32 per cent in just a year, making for cleaner air and a safer environment for children and the elderly to roam around."
Read more on the Monocle website: https://monocle.com/magazine/t...