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20 Countries with the Best Quality of Life


More people than ever are widening their horizons and considering in another country. This could be because they are retiring, they are moving for work purposes, they want new experiences, or they dream of a lifestyle they cannot achieve in their own country. When moving to a new location, there are many different factors to take into consideration. For example, you may need to think about the cost of living, the property market, employment opportunities, the availability of education and childcare, the culture of the country you are considering living in, and any language barriers you may face.

One of the most important considerations is the quality of life a country can offer and this is often the deciding factor for many people. While some countries do not offer a particularly good standard of living, others offer a fantastic quality of life. InterNations conducts annual surveys to find the country that offers the best quality of life. This is based on factors including travel and transport, health and well-being, safety and security, leisure options, and personal happiness. They collate their findings to rank the 67 countries included in the survey in each of the subcategories and then give them an overall ranking based on their scores in each of these subcategories. Here are the top 20 countries that offer a good quality of life.

20. South Korea

At the bottom of the top 20 list of the countries which offer the best quality of life is South Korea. However, this does not mean that South Korea offers a poor standard of life as the list is based on 67 countries. Therefore, South Korea is actually a fantastic place to live in terms of the quality of life you can expect to achieve there. The area in which South Korea scores best is travel and transport as it finishes in 10th position on this subcategory. It is 23rd for personal happiness, 25th for health and well-being, and 26th for safety and security. Its lowest ranking on the index is 39th in the leisure options subcategory.

19. Malta

Malta has always held appeal for tourists as it has a wonderful Mediterranean climate and is a peaceful and relaxing destination. It is certainly not a country for those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of urban life. The Maltese love their country for its beauty and the quality of life they enjoy living there. In 2017, Malta is in 19th place on the index for countries with the best quality of life. In terms of personal happiness and leisure options, Malta ranks really well with 7th and 8th position respectively. For health and well-being and safety and security, Malta is in 21st position on both lists. The downfall of this country is travel and transport as it is only in 45th position.

18. United Arab Emirates

Although the United Arab Emirates was once dismissed as a place to call home by many due to the differences in culture and because it was once considered an expensive place to live, this is no longer the case. Those who live in the United Arab Emirates believes it is a country that offers an excellent quality of life and the responses to the survey reflected this. The safety and security of this country is one of its most appealing features to residents as it is in 6th position. It also has a good infrastructure in the urban areas and this has led to it getting the decent ranking of 15th in the travel and transport index. The UAE has ranked 31st for leisure options and 39th for health and wellbeing. However, it fared less well in personal happiness with a position of only 44th.

17. Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the countries with the greatest extremes between subcategories. On its upside, the Netherlands is 7th for travel and transport. On the other hand, it is only ranked 47th for leisure options. Safety and security is ranked at a respectable 18th while for personal happiness and health and well-being it is ranked 25th and 28th respectively.

16. Finland

Although Finland is in a respectable 16th position on the overall list, there are some aspects of the quality of life that are fantastic while this country did significantly less well in other aspects of the survey. Its best score was for health and well-being as it ranked in fifth position. It did almost as well in the safety and security subcategory as it finished in 8th place. For travel and transport, it sits in the respectable 23rd spot and is ranked 30th for personal happiness. The biggest downfall of this country is the leisure options as Finland is trailing in 50th position.

15. New Zealand

New Zealand has always been a popular choice for ex-pats as it is an English-speaking country of outstanding beauty that can offer an excellent quality of life. For those who are born there, it is difficult for them to imagine living in another country as beautiful that can offer them a similar level of opportunities and standard of living. New Zealand is in the top ten for leisure options ranking in 9th position and in 10th position for personal happiness. It also fares reasonably well for safety and security, 13th place, and health and well-being, 16th position. It is travel and transport that are the downfall of this country as it has a surprisingly low ranking of 50th. New Zealand has fallen two places on the overall index since the previous year.

14. Sweden

Just one of the many reasons why people choose to live in Sweden is that it offers high wages in comparison to many other European countries. This contributes to the quality of life that people enjoy in Sweden. Sweden is in 14th position overall and this is due to it wide-ranging scores in the subcategories. While it is the 4th best place to live for health and wellbeing, it is only 50th on the list for leisure options. It scores reasonably well for both safety and security and travel and transport as it ranks 14th and 17th respectively. However, in terms of personal happiness, this is only the 37th best country to live.

13. Canada

Canada has long been a country where people from other English or French-speaking countries consider moving so they can enjoy a better quality of life. Vancouver and Montreal are two of the country’s major financial centers and these attract many ex-pats who are looking for work in the financial industry or for major international companies. In terms of the quality of life, Canada has dropped just one place since 2016. Its best ranking is 7th for safety and security and its worst position in a subcategory is 41st for personal happiness. For health and well-being, it ranks 13th while for travel and transport it is in 34th position. On the leisure options index, it is in 38th place.

12. Denmark

In 2016, Denmark was ranked just 21st for countries that offer the best quality of life. To achieve 12th position, it has seen quite an astronomical rise. This is another country of two extremes as it is the third best country for health and wellbeing, the 10th best country for safety and security, and the 13th best place to live for travel and transport. At the other extreme, it is ranked just 23rd for leisure options and 54th for personal happiness.

11. Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a tiny country with a population of just 580,000. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why those who live there feel they have a good quality of life. According to the quality of life index produced by InterNations, Luxembourg is the 5th best place to live for safety and security and this is an aspect of the survey to which people in Luxembourg responded very positively. It is in 14th position for health and wellbeing, 18th position for personal happiness, and 19th place for travel and transport. The aspect of the survey in which Luxembourg performed the worst was leisure options as it achieved a ranking of just 55th.

10. Germany

The high percentage of the population who speak English and the work opportunities available in international companies are just two of the reasons that people choose to move to Germany. The culture in the country is also one which people from other European countries or the United States can adapt to easily. The element of the survey in which Germany performed best was travel and transport as it is in fifth position in this subcategory. It also rated well in the health and wellbeing category as it finished in 6th position. In terms of safety and security, residents of Germany are reasonably happy and this is reflected in its 17th position. The areas in which Germany performed less well are leisure options and personal happiness. It is ranked in just 42nd place for leisure options and 55th position on the personal happiness index.

9. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful and diverse country with a fantastic climate and these are just two of the factors that encourage people to live there. Costa Rica is one of the countries that has dropped out of the top five since 2016 but has still managed to retain a place in the top 10 on the index. The quality of life in this country is something that many people find appealing when they are considering moving abroad and natives of this country don’t want to leave as they fear they will not achieve a similar standard of living elsewhere in the world. Despite its drop on the index, Costa Rica still ranks 4th for personal happiness and 5th for leisure options. It also ranks 10th for health and well-being and 20th for safety and security. It is the travel and transport in this country that have dropped it down the ranks as in this subcategory it is in 35th place.

8. Switzerland

Zurich is the financial hub of Switzerland and many people move here for the work opportunities in financial institutions for international companies. Switzerland also attracts people who are keen to take advantage of the winter sports scene or who want to live in the magnificent beauty of this country. Switzerland is top of the list for safety and security and ranks third in the travel and transport category. It is also in the top 20 for health and well-being ranking 18th. It is these high scores that have led to Switzerland ranking 8th overall. However, this is a country of two extremes as it ranks significantly lower for leisure options and personal happiness. It is 37th on the leisure options index and 56th for personal happiness.

7. Austria

Austria has dropped down the list from the top five to 7th position overall since last year. The reason for this drop is that it has lost ground in every subcategory since 2016. Despite this, Austria is still the second-best country in terms of health and well-being as those who live in Austria who completed the survey are pleased with the health care services provided in this country. Another area in which Austria scores well is travel and transport. Finishing in 8th position, people living in Austria think that the travel and transport systems add to the efficiency and convenience of living in this country. It is also in the top 20 for safety and security finishing in 19th place. The areas where Austria scores poorly are leisure options and personal happiness. On the leisure options index, Austria is only 27th and it scores even less well on personal happiness ranking 53rd.

6. Japan

Last year, Japan was within the top five countries on the quality of life list. Unfortunately, it has now fallen just outside this but remains within the top ten in 6th position overall. The reason for this drop is that it has fallen slightly in all subcategories. Despite these drops, Japan still does reasonably well in every category. Its best ranking is for safety and security where it is in 4th place. The Japanese and those who have adopted this country as their home feel that they are living in a safe country. Japan also does well in the health and well-being category as it is the 7th best country in the world in this category. Those who live in Japan are happy with the availability, cost, and quality of healthcare. In 9th position in the travel and transport category, people feel that Japan is a convenient and efficient place to live. The two areas where Japan score poorly are leisure options and personal happiness. In leisure options, Japan ranks in 33rd position and in personal happiness, it ranks very low on the index at 48th.

5. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a unique culture and is a country steeped in history. These are both factors that many people find appealing. The relatively low cost of living is something else that attracts people to live in this country. The area in which the Czech Republic scored best was in travel and transport as people who live in this country find it easy and convenient to get around. In this category, the Czech Republic ranked fourth. Although this country has much lower rankings in the other four subcategories, it is still within the top 20 on every index. For safety and security, it is in 16th place while for health and well-being it is one spot lower in 17th place. The Czech Republic ranks 18th for leisure options and 20th for personal happiness.

4. Singapore

Singapore has become an increasingly popular place to live. People from all over the world move to this country for the amazing work opportunities, the diverse culture, and the urban buzz. In 2016, this country was ranked 8th overall but it has jumped four places to finish in 4th this year. One reason for this rise is that Singapore is now top in the travel and transport index. The capital city has an excellent infrastructure and people who commute from the surrounding area find getting to work easy. There are also good public transport links throughout the rest of the country. Another area in which this country has done well is safety and security as it is the third best country on the list. Singapore scores reasonably well on the health and well-being category in 24th position and for leisure options in 23rd place. However, it scores poorly on the personal happiness index in 43rd position.

3. Spain

Spain is one of the top destinations for people who go on Mediterranean vacations. The warm coastal locations and the diverse metropolitan cities are huge attractions to visitors who enjoy staying in Europe. It is both the climate and the interesting cultural attractions that inspire people to visit this country and even to move there permanently. Another reason people want to live in Spain is the quality of life. Although it ranks third overall on the list, Spain is actually ranked in first position for leisure options as people want plenty of things to see and do in their leisure time and this is something that Spain can offer in abundance. This country also does well in the personal happiness category, finishing in sixth position. In the health and well-being subcategory, Spain comes in at 12th and this is also its position of the list of travel and transport. The subcategory that lets Spain down is safety and security as it is only ranked 25th in this section of the survey.

2. Taiwan

Last year, Taiwan topped the list of countries with the best quality of life. Although it has dropped one position this year, the residents of this country still believe that it is a fantastic country in which to live. In the health and well-being category, this country comes out on top, so this is a great place to live if you are worried about the quality, availability, and cost of healthcare. It also did very well in the travel and transport category as it finished sixth overall. This is because the infrastructures in the cities of Taiwan are excellent and there are good public transport links throughout the country. People who need to commute to work find it easy to do so and traveling form one area of Taiwan is simple and convenient. The categories that brought down Taiwan’s ranking were leisure options and personal happiness. In the former, Taiwan ranked only 20th on the list while for the latter, it ranks just 24th.

1. Portugal

Portugal has made one of the biggest changes on the list since 2016 as it has risen 13 places to now top the list. This country has always been a popular destination for tourists who come for the beautiful surroundings and the wonderful climate. It is often spending a vacation in Portugal that inspires people to make a permanent move. However, enjoying a happy lifestyle is dependent on so much more than pleasant memories of a holiday and those who have made the move to Portugal are testament to the lifestyle this country can offer to expats. To become the overall leader in the list, Portugal scored highly across the board in all subcategories. Its best ranking was for leisure options as it is in second position for this subcategory. It also scored well in the personal happiness section of the survey, finishing in third position. In health and well-being, Portugal was ranked within the top ten countries in 9th position. The two areas where it scored less well, although still within the top 20 countries on the list were safety and security, where it was ranked in 11th place, travel and transport as it was ranked in 14th position.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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