The world used to be so big that the thought of moving or living in another country was such a far-fetched possibility.
But now, thanks to airplanes and other convenient modes of transportation, the world is truly your oyster.
The busy streets of London, the chic cafes in Paris, those endless white beaches in Byron Bay – take your pick. If you’re truly willing and able, you can move and build your life in the land of your dreams.
But how dreamy exactly are you thinking? Where on Earth could you be your happiest? And what about employment rates, healthcare system, cost of living, and ease of integration?
There are just so many things to consider before you jump the gun.
Lucky for you, every year, there’s always a list of the best and happiest countries to settle down in. It’s just a matter of finding which fits your personality best. But even with such comprehensive lists, it’s still hard to narrow down your choices.
From a recent version of the United Nations’ Human Development Report, the U.S. News & World Report‘s Best Countries List for 2018, and even The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Global Liveability Index – how do you choose, who do you listen to?
We’re here to help. We’ve narrowed it down to what we think are the best countries to put down some roots, according to your personality and needs.
1. Norway – Best for Happiness
Every year, we look forward to the World Happiness Report, the survey that ranks the happiest countries in the world. And every year, we see Norway topping the list or at least close.
So what exactly about this Scandinavian country makes its citizens the happiest people on Earth?
Well, if you’re looking for the perfect work-life balance while being surrounded by nature, you’ve found your home. Norwegian society is modern, gender-neutral, and is quite progressive.
Norway has some of the highest life expectancy rates in the world as well, so healthcare isn’t an issue. The country is also among the highest in standards of living, educational quality, and green living.
We’re not joking when we ranked it number one. Imagine living your best life surrounded by all that natural beauty.
2. Switzerland – Best for Healthcare
You’re not joking about living up to 100 years old or more. You also want to be healthy while doing so. Then Switzerland is the country for you.
There are many other reasons why Switzerland tops many lists. In fact, it’s quite close to Norway when it comes to education, livability, business, etc. But one factor stands out:
According to the latest United Nations Human Development Report, Swiss people can live up to an average of 83 years old. In short, it’s the healthiest place on Earth. People in Switzerland have a very low risk of acquiring diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV.
3. Australia – Best for Education
Do you have dreams of becoming a scholar? How many Ph.D.’s do you want under your belt? Are you already practicing your Nobel Peace Prize speech?
Well, you should go to study in Australia. According to the UN, most Australian students go to school for around 20 years.
But it’s not just that. Australia ranks high for experience ratio. And according to expats, moving to Australia made them healthier, saying that “the natural environment, and access to it, is better than what’s available at home, which logically translates to more time spent outdoors.”
4. Austria – Most Livable Place on Earth
This year’s The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index ranks Vienna as the most livable place in the world. The list ranks 140 countries and rates them depending on culture, environment, healthcare, and infrastructure. And Austria’s capital scored an overall rating of 99.1.
Fancy living in a refurbished old apartment, surrounded by some of the most beautiful traditional and modern architecture in the world? Surely you wouldn’t mind living such an “Instagrammable” place.
5. Sweden – Best Place to Start a Family
If you’ve always dreamed of a picture-perfect family, living in a country house overlooking a beautiful lake, then Sweden might just be the one. according to U.S. News & World Report, Sweden ranked top for the places to raise a family in. And it’s no wonder because parents there are able to take long parental leaves – 16 months and paid at about 80% of their salary.
This Scandinavian country also offers free education, affordable childcare, and public areas which are baby friendly. Not to mention it is also one of the greenest countries in the world. Considering all the, there really is no better place to raise children.
6. Germany – Best for Career Advancement
Germany is perhaps one of the most populous countries in all of Europe. But it is also one of the most prosperous when it comes to economic growth. In recent years, Germany has seen staggering success in profit, with a GDP of $3.7 million. And no one can argue its massive international economy contribution since the reunification.
But it’s also not just all work and no play. Germany also boasts of amazing work-life balance, according to the majority of expats. The Germans invented a whole month for drinking beer, after all.
7. New Zealand – Best for Ease of Integration
It’s really not easy to uproot your whole life and move to a foreign country. Much less to somewhere as far-removed as New Zealand. And you wouldn’t expect it, but New Zealand is actually one of the easiest countries to move to.
It tops the annual Expat Explorer Survey in terms of “experience.” This means that New Zealand offers high quality of day-to-day life. Expats also claim that it’s quite easy to integrate into the country. So if you’re worried about not feeling like you’ll belong, rest assured, settling down in New Zealand seems seamless.
8. Singapore – Best of East and West
The only Asian country on this list, Singapore is a melting pot of culture – both of the east and the west. The country is one of the richest in Asia, and thanks to international economic investments, it has become a booming metropolis.
Settling down in Singapore is every millennial expat’s dream. The city is alive with the best bars, restaurants, and a diverse and modern community. Bonus points: the country is heaven for foodies. Imagine eating at a Michelin star street food stall.
Fair warning however, career track in this little country is cut-throat. Work-life balance is almost non-existent . But hey, if you’re career-driven, you’ll definitely flourish here.
9. Denmark – Best for Quality of Life
They must be doing something right in these Scandinavian countries. Denmark tied with Singapore in the latest UN rankings.
Median wages between men and women currently has a gap of only 7.8% for full-time employees. So if you’re sick of gender bias throughout your career, you might consider moving to Denmark. This picturesque country also consistently ranks high on livability surveys, as it adapts more of the same policies as Sweden and Norway.
10. Ireland – Best for Friendliness
Ireland’s crime rate is one of the lowest around the world, with homicide rate only at 1.1% per 1,000 people. And maybe it has to do with the fact that it is one of the friendliest places on Earth. And if someone made a friendliest place report, this country will surely top the list. You’ll have no trouble finding a new BFF here.
But Ireland is also much more than that. It might be a small country, but it is lush with sweeping green landscapes, homey little cottages, and comes with a fun and lively capital, Dublin.
11. Canada – Melting Pot of Expats
Canada is another country that catches every wanna-be expat’s eye. And why not? One of the country’s goal is to attract 1 million expats to come live and work there by the year 2020. Talk about a great welcome, eh?
This North American country also ranks high in quality of healthcare and education. Economic and political stability in Canada is also good. So really, you will have nothing to worry in this country but when and where to get your next order of poutine.
12. The Netherlands – Best for Innovation
The Netherlands has had relatively low rates of income inequality (currently at 12.4% in all of the world) since the mid-1990’s.
This country is also considered to have one of the world’s most innovative economies. And it has become the country’s top priorities. They even offer a “start-up” visa for anyone bold enough to build a business out of their bold ideas.
In 2016, The Netherlands also ranked 7th place on the broad indicator of well-being in a country scale, according to the World Economic Forum. Must be all those windmills.
13. Iceland – The Most Stunning Nature
If you’ve always dreamed of running barefoot and living in one with nature, perhaps you should consider moving to Iceland. There, the landscapes are so breathtaking, they almost seem out-of-this-world. The Land of The Midnight Sun is situated, despite its name, is very much green.
Plus, a little bit of trivia: there are literally no mosquitoes in Iceland. Nada. And the people there believe in elves. True story. But all of this quirkiness aside, Iceland also has a stable economy, more than decent healthcare, and houses some of the most educated people in the world.
14. Finland – Most Eco-Friendly
What’s the first thing to come to mind when Finland is mentioned? Reindeer? Santa Claus?
Well, Finland is actually the happiest place on Earth, according to The 2018 World Happiness Report. It’s also one of the safest, according to the 2018 Travel Risk Map, which assesses security, medical risks, and road safety.
But what takes the cake is the country’s environmental efforts. Finland’s green credentials are the best in the world. It ranked number one on 2016 Environmental Performance Index, as they produce around two-thirds of their electricity from renewable or nuclear power sources.
15. United States of America – Best for Opportunities
Of course we won’t forget the so-called “Land of the Free” on this list. The United States of America has always been the land of opportunity and it still hasn’t changed.
The US consistently ranks high on Financial wealth. And even though people might be on low-income wages, they still have decent access to housing and private transportation. US citizens earn a median income of $59,039 per year.