Top 10 Countries with a Great Work-Life Balance

Dear Naresh Kumar Sagar,

On a global scale, expats working full time spend an average of 44.3 hours a week at work: about three in five of them are satisfied with their work-life balance (60%) as well as their working hours (61%). Interestingly, it seems like it is not only the number of hours spent at work that lead to a high satisfaction with work-life balance, as the latest Expat Insider survey reveals. Based on the insights of close to 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories in the annual survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a ranking of the destinations with the best work-life balance. The ranking shows that those who are the most satisfied with their work-life balance do not necessarily work significantly fewer hours. But in most of the countries, they express above-average satisfaction with their life abroad in general – for example in New Zealand (89%), Costa Rica (88%), and the Czech Republic (87%).

The entire press release and a corresponding infographic can be downloaded at the end of this email. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, require statements from survey participants, or if you are interested in an interview with a spokesperson of the company.

Find more InterNations Expat Insider 2017 rankings, reports, infographics, and videos on www.internations.org/expat-insider.

Kind regards,
The InterNations Press Team

Top 10 Countries with a Great Work-Life Balance

Expats living in these countries do not necessarily work short hours, but they are more than satisfied with their work-life balance.

  • Denmark, Bahrain, Norway, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Sweden, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Oman, and Malta offer the best work-life balance for expats.
  • A high satisfaction with work-life balance does not necessarily mean shorter working hours — expats in the Czech Republic even spend more time at work than the global average.
  • Expats living in the countries with a great work-life balance are often highly educated: in Denmark and Sweden the share of those holding a PhD is twice the global average (6% vs. 12%).

Munich, 23 May 2018 — On a global scale, expats working full time spend an average of 44.3 hours a week at work: about three in five of them are satisfied with their work-life balance (60%) as well as their working hours (61%). Interestingly, it seems like it is not only the number of hours spent at work that lead to a high satisfaction with work-life balance, as the latest Expat Insider survey reveals. Based on the insights of close to 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories in the annual survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a ranking of the destinations with the best work-life balance. The ranking shows that those who are the most satisfied with their work-life balance do not necessarily work significantly fewer hours. But in most of the countries, they express above-average satisfaction with their life abroad in general — for example in New Zealand (89%), Costa Rica (88%), and the Czech Republic (87%).

1. Denmark 

  • Satisfaction with work-life balance: 76%
  • Satisfaction with working hours: 82%
  • Average full-time working hours: 39.7h

Expats working full time in Denmark have the shortest working week out of the featured countries. Maybe it is that benefit which attracts highly educated expats: close to half the respondents (47%) have a master’s degree or similar, and twelve percent hold a PhD, which is twice the global average (6%). “I like the work-life balance, which I do not get anywhere else”, an expat from Indonesia states.

2. Bahrain

  • Satisfaction with work-life balance: 69%
  • Satisfaction with working hours: 72%
  • Average full-time working hours: 42.9h

Close to half the expats in Bahrain (46%) cite work-related reasons for moving there, and it seems like it was a good choice. “You can still find time to relax after a day of work,” says an expat from the Philippines. Moreover, seven in ten (70%) say they make more money than they would in a similar job back home. Maybe that is why close to three-quarters (73%) are generally satisfied with their job in Bahrain.

3. Norway

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 72%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 77%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 42.9h

With expats spending 1.4 hours less at work than the global average (44.3h), Norway makes it into the top 10 destinations. “Work-life balance is very important here,” says a British expat. Despite the shorter hours, 72 percent believe that they make more than they would in a similar job back home (vs. 51% globally), which is the highest share out of the top 10 countries with a great work-life balance.

4. The Czech Republic

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 73%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 76%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 44.9h

Despite working the longest hours out of the top 10 featured countries, 75 percent of expats in the Czech Republic are generally satisfied with their job. “My working conditions are excellent here and my employer offers me a lot of benefits,” says an expat from Australia. Maybe this is due to the above-average satisfaction with their career prospects (65% vs. 53% globally) and their job security (74% vs. 57% globally).

5. New Zealand

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 75%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 75%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 42.3h

With only six percent of expats citing work-related reasons for moving to New Zealand, it might not be a surprise that just 73 percent of them work full time (vs. 83% globally). Despite shorter working hours, the share of respondents with a gross yearly household income of more than 150,000 USD per year is with 14 percent still the highest out of the top 10 featured countries.

6. Sweden

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 69%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 77%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 42.3h

Expats in Sweden seem to enjoy a good working life: not only do they show a high satisfaction with their work-life balance and working hours but also with their career prospects (56%) and job security (65%). “There are lots of job opportunities and a good work-life balance,”summarizes a German expat. Nonetheless, only three in five (60%) are satisfied with their job overall (vs. 64% globally).

7. Costa Rica

  • Satisfaction with work-life balance: 68%
  • Satisfaction with working hours: 63%
  • Average full-time working hours: 44.3h

Although expats working full-time in Costa Rica spend the same time at work as the global average, they are more satisfied with their work-life balance (68%) than those worldwide (60%). But it seems like it does not pay off: only 44 percent find that their disposable household income is more than enough to cover everything they need. “It is very expensive to live here, and you are not paid well,” says an US American expat.

8. The Netherlands

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 75%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 76%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 42.0h

Already before moving abroad, three in five expats (60%) saw the Netherlands’ economy and labor market as a potential benefit, compared to 45 percent globally. Maybe it is the great state of the economy (89% positive ratings) that allows them to work 2.3 hours less per week than the global average for full-time position. “Life is hassle-free and very relaxed,” shares an expat from Canada.

9. Oman

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 67%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 70%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 43.5h

Many expats (43%) moved to Oman for work-related reasons, and nearly all of those living there (96%) work full time — the highest share among the top 10 featured countries. While they are still happy with their work-life balance, only three in five (60%) are generally satisfied with their job, which might be due to a low satisfaction with career prospects (39%) and job security (47%).

10. Malta

  •  Satisfaction with work-life balance: 72%
  •  Satisfaction with working hours: 67%
  •  Average full-time working hours: 43.9h

Around three-quarters of expats in Malta (77%) work full time, which is the second-smallest share out of the top 10 countries, after New Zealand. A Croatian expat likes the “opportunity to work and earn well”, which seems to be the case for the majority of those living in Malta. More than half (52%) state that their disposable household income is more than enough to cover everything they need.

Read More about Working Abroad

Top 10 Countries with a Great Work-Life Balance
In addition to all-time favorites like the Scandinavian countries, the list holds some surprises such as Bahrain, the Czech Republic, and Oman.
The Pros and Cons of a Career Abroad
Moving abroad has a huge impact not only on your personal life, but on your professional life too. Earning a living in another country can be the start of an international career and network to match, but there can also be some down sides. Here are the pros and cons to keep in mind  when deciding to live and work overseas.
Expat Entrepreneurs
Moving abroad can mean leaving behind a job or career. Faced with a new place, lack of local experience and often language issues, a move can inspire you to try out things that seemed scary or impossible in the past. We talked to two entrepreneurs, Jackson and Michelle, whose expat experience inspired them to take a leap into the unknown.

About the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 Survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up six topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living Index. Except for the latter, all indices were further averaged in order to rank 65 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2017 the top 10 were Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.

For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per country was necessary. The only exception to this is the Family Life Index, where a sample size of more than 40 respondents raising children abroad was required. In 2017, 65 and 45 countries respectively met these requirements. However, in most countries the sample size exceeded 100 participants.

About InterNations
With 3.1 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations (http://www.internations.org/) is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking both online and face-to-face. At around 6,000 monthly events and activities, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and discussion forums to help members with topics such as the local job or housing search. InterNations membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust.

The InterNations app is available for Android and iOS and can be downloaded for free onGoogle Play and the App Store.

Find more information about InterNations on our press pagescompany websiteFacebook,LinkedInTwitter, or in our Expat Magazine.

Press Contact
Vera Grossmann
Media Spokesperson

InterNations GmbH
Schwanthalerstraße 39
80336 Munich, Germany

Tel: +49 (0)89 461 3324 79
Fax: +49 (0)89 461 3324 99
Email: press@internations.org
Homepage: www.internations.org/press

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