Whether it’s a better work-life balance, greater career satisfaction or more attractive, engaging surroundings, everyone is searching for a better quality of life. For many, this search is what inspires and drives the decision to move abroad which is why we’ve had a look at the top ten countries for quality of life. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ‘Better Life’ index ranks the 34 member countries on a number of criteria from health and education to environment and jobs to give an overall picture of quality of life. By asking residents within these nations each year, we gain an accurate and up to date picture of the numerous advantages to life abroad. To help you discover what you could gain, here are the top ten countries for quality of life;
It is no surprise that this perennial expat favourite tops the list for the top ten countries for quality of life. Australia is a safe, friendly, healthy country where both work and family life thrive in the glorious climate. While the lifestyle is clearly more relaxed, the strong employment rate and higher than average salaries are testament to the wealth of career opportunities down under.
For many, however, it is the opportunity to make the most of their time away from the office that draws them to Australia. Whether you want to get fitter swimming or running along the coastline, spend more time enjoying the sunshine and a chilled drink with friends or fill your weekends with barbecues and beach trips, Australia can tick every box.
The survey also shows that Australians have a strong sense of community, coming top overall for civic engagement. Expats can, therefore, expect a warm welcome from their new neighbours in this infectiously positive country.
Sweden’s reputation as a clean, healthy, hard working country is firmly supported by the OECD’s very positive survey findings. With impressively low levels of pollution and beautiful, untouched areas of wilderness, Sweden clearly deserves the number one spot for environment.
Like Australia, Sweden also ranks highly for civic engagement due to factors such as high social inclusion and low levels of isolation. Swedes also enjoy an excellent work-life balance with only 1% working very long hours, leaving you with plenty of time to explore the stunning countryside and diverse wildlife.
Another Scandinavian gem, Norway is ranked as one of the top ten countries for quality of life in the world and for life satisfaction. From arctic forests to dramatic fjords, Norway’s beautiful countryside is world-renowned and make it the ideal destination for anyone who enjoys and active, outdoors lifestyle.
On practical matters, Norway performs well across the board, from job satisfaction and work-life balance to housing and healthcare. It is an incredibly safe place to live with low rates of crime and incarceration and has one of the best education systems in Europe, making it the ideal place for people planning on moving their family abroad. They even have wild reindeer, need we say more?
It’s no surprise that Switzerland is in this list, a country ofen placed highly in various reports on the top ten countries for quality of life. Viewed by many as the financial heart of Europe, Switzerland is, of course, rated very well for both standard of living and income. While work and money are often the driving force behind a move abroad, residents and expats alike clearly enjoy life in Switzerland and rate it as one of the happiest places in the world.
Switzerland ranks well for environment, boasting spectacular mountains and lakes to explore in any season. There is also a strong sense of community, clearly evident during the numerous markets and festivals held throughout the year, which are also the perfect place to experience the incredible cheeses, wines and chocolates that encapsulate Swiss cuisine.
Top for both life satisfaction and work-life balance, Denmark is clearly a happy, fruitful place to live and one of the top ten countries for quality of life. With beautiful public spaces and generous employment benefits, Danes undoubtedly enjoy a high quality of life.
This positive, healthy attitude encourages a fair, inclusive atmosphere that is reflected in the high rating for community and civic engagement. There are some stunning stretches of coastline and beautiful cities and towns to explore, not to mention the delicious pastries to sample. These reasons and more mean that it has easily made it into the top ten countries for quality of life.
Canada is one of the most naturally beautiful countries in world with vast swathes of breath taking wilderness as well as stunning mountains, forests and lakes. It is clearly an easy country to fall in love with and scores understandably well for environment in the OECD survey.
Yet Canada boasts brains as well as beauty, with enviable healthcare and education programs that are accessible and affordable for the majority of residents and expats. It is also an incredibly friendly, multicultural and safe country happy to welcome expats from around the world, and if that’s not persuaded you, the UN has consistently voted it the best place in the world to live.
The land of opportunity still has plenty to offer ambitious expats looking for a better quality of life. The USA boasts career opportunities you won’t find anywhere else, particularly in large cities such as New York, LA and Chicago. Although the survey reveals Americans work longer than average hours, there are clear benefits to this hard graft and the USA is rated number one for income.
America clearly offers a high standard of living and is rated number one for housing due to the quality and affordability of accommodation. As well as these practical advantages, the USA is also a beautiful, vast and overwhelmingly positive country where expats can follow their dreams and find a better life. The inclusion of this highly developed country is a no brainer for the list of top ten countries for quality of life.
8. New Zealand
New Zealand’s glorious verdant hills and stunning coastline are known around the world and attract thousands of holiday makers and expats every year. These postcard views and clean, green cities earn the country a very high ranking for environment, yet it is in the health category that New Zealand truly shines. With a healthy population enjoying high life expectancy, it is a great choice for expats looking for a better lifestyle.
The country also boasts a content, engaged population that look after one another. Civic engagement is rated highly and expats are warmly welcomed, particularly in light of the current need for construction workers to help with the ongoing rebuild of Christchurch. There’s never been a better time to start a new life in this gorgeous, happy country – a definite in the list for the top ten countries for quality of life.
Some people may be surprised that Iceland is in the list of the top ten countries for quality of life. Iceland however has high job security, salaries and a high employment rate – putting it firmly in poll position in the jobs category. But it is out of the office that Iceland truly shines, with high ratings for community, environment and life satisfaction. You don’t have to look very far to discover why Icelanders are so happy. This stunning island on the edge of the artic circle is one of the greenest places on Earth. Around 25% of their energy is geothermal, harnessing the power of the country’s many volcanoes, which also creates the amazing hot springs that attract many of the country’s tourists. You can have a very good chance of seeing the breathtaking spectacle that is the Northern Lights throughout the long winter evenings.
If you’re planning a move abroad with a young family, Finland could be an ideal destination as, not only does it rank well for community and environment, but it is the highest rated of all the OECD countries for education. Finish students stay in education longer and achieve more than almost anywhere else in the world.
Finland has hundreds of pretty lakes and magical forests packed with silver birch trees and countless varieties of mushrooms. It’s clear to see why it is one of the top ten countries for quality of life. Even the cities are beautiful as Finland is a country that takes design and architecture very seriously, Helsinki may just be the most attractive capital city in the world.