The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life

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.

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 – we’ve narrowed it all down to what we think are the best countries to put down some roots, depending on your personality and needs.

Here are the 25 best countries to live in:

1. Norway – Best for Happiness

Norway - Best country to live in
Credit: Giuseppe Milo / Flickr

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

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Baden, Switzerland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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

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Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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

Sttephanplatz Graben Vienna Austria The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Vienna, Austria. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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 City Architecture Stockholm Scandinavia Sweden 436231 The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Stockholm, Sweden.

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

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Munich, Germany.

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

auckland The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Auckland, New Zealand.

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

singapore The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Singapore. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

copenhagen denmark wikimedia commons The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Copenhagen, Denmark. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

toronto The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life
Toronto, Canada.

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

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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

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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

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Helsinki, Finland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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New York City, USA. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

16. United Kingdom – Most prosperous

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There’s some uncertainty about the United Kingdom since the specter of the 2016 Brexit.

However, no one can deny that the UK is still a superpower – and still among the most prosperous countries in the world.

The UK still hold its own in business and entrepreneurship. And before you shout “Brexit!,” get this:

The United Kingdrom attracted more investors than any other European country since the Brexit vote.

So if you’re thinking of building your own startup, why not choose this global hub?

17. Luxembourg – International Hub

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Luxembourg is proof that size doesn’t matter.

The country of 600,000 people might look like only a dot if you look at the world map, but Luxembourg has consistently been one of the richest countries in the world – 2nd in 2017, according to Fortune Magazine.

But you’d be surprised to know that almost half of the country’s population consists of foreigners.

According to InterNationsGo:

“Luxembourg, despite its tiny size, is a truly cosmopolitan country, with more than 46% of the population consisting of foreign residents.”

“Multilingualism is an important aspect of life in Luxembourg. Another baffling fact is that the country has three official languages altogether: French, German, and Lëtzebuergesch (Luxembourgish).”

18. Belgium – Best for Personal Freedom

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There’s a lot of good things to say about Belgium.

First, it’s one of the most important countries in Europe. Brussels, in particular, is headquarters of both the European Union and Nato.

So you don’t have to worry about not being in the center of things.

Belgium is also at the top when it comes to personal freedom. It’s considered an educational center and the greenest capital in Europe.

But more than that, quality of life is amazing in Belgium. People are friendly and speak English well, with the country hosting 3 official languages.

It’s energetic, carefree, and bustling with good vibes.

19. Slovenia – Safety

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Slovenia is the only European country on this list, but it offers the very best of Europe.

Nestled between, Italy and Croatia, it holds the most stunning landscapes. Lush forrests, breathtaking alpine mountains, picturesque architecture.

If you want to live in a European dream, perhaps Slovenia is for you. You’ll never run out of Historical cities to visit. And beautiful nature is only a stone’s throw away, too.

And if you’re worried about security, Slovenia actually ranks high on the Quality of Life survey. It’s 15th in the world when it comes to Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate.

20. Vietnam – For Travel-Hungry Digital Nomads

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The number of “digital nomads” are increasing around the world. More and more people are deciding to pack their bags, travel, and make a living on the internet.

One popular country among digital nomads is Vietnam. And it’s no wonder.

It’s cheap. It’s beautiful. The people are friendly. And the internet is good enough.

Vietnam offers a variety of landscape for the travel-hungry and it’s rich in history and cuisine, too.

On average, you can rent an apartment for $250 a month and eat out around $1 per meal.

21. Malta

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Malta is more than just Game of Throne’s real life King’s Landing.

The stunning Mediterranean country is Europe’s 15th richest country. In fact, even the World Bank classifies Malta as a high-income country.

Financial security out of the way, Malta offers amazing culture, rich history, and excellent weather.

International Living sums it up:

“If you’re a Europhile who dreams of spending retirement immersed in the rich culture and history of the Old World, yet craves warm days filled with brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and al fresco dinners by the sea, then think about retiring to Malta, a multi-island archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.”

22. France – Best for Opulence

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Ah, who doesn’t want to live in opulent Paris? Or the picturesque rolling valleys of the French countryside?

If it’s opulence you’re looking for, France will surely indulge you.

Food, wine, Michelin star restaurants, art, romance – it will be a dream come true.

But France also offers one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country combines public and private health sectors so it is able to provide universal healthcare to all its citizens.

You won’t have to worry about medical bills. Win-win, right?

23. Hong Kong – Asian Business Hub

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Hong Kong always gets toe to toe with Singapore.

But you can’t lose either way.

Hong Kong is long established as the business hub of Asia.

And it is beaming with progress.

There’s quite a number of expats, so you won’t feel alone moving in to such a booming metropolis. Flights to neighboring Asian wonders are only worth an hour or two.

There’s a downside though. Hong Kong is not the best country for nature. Its natural environment only ranks as 86th in the world.

24. Japan – Risk-Free living.

12 Chureito pagoda and Mount Fuji Japan 29677439878 The 25 best countries to live in. Where to build your dream life

Don’t count out any other Asian countries just yet.

Japan is distinguished as one of the strongest economic powers in the east.

Yes, the sushi is impeccable. But Japan is more than that.

The country ranks highly in health and safety, which makes it a great country for risk-free living.

It’s not a social capital, by any stretch. In fact, it ranks only 99 in the world for personal freedom. So it’s not the friendliest and warmest country.

However, Japan boasts beautiful nature, rich and unique culture, and a booming, progressive economy.

25. Portugal – Freedom

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Portugal surprised many economical and living surveys recently.

The country has consistently been competitive in political and economical aspects. It is also one of the countries featured in the Quality of Living survey.

Portugal is also the 3rd most peaceful country in the world. But wait, we haven’t talked about the beauty of the country yet.

Portugal boasts a huge diversity of landscapes and environments for such a small country. There are beaches, mountains, forests, all within an hour or two drive away from anywhere.

And the best part is, the cost of living is relatively affordable, according to Numbeo.

Picture of Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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