Which Country Is Best for Living and Working? 

What is it really like to have a taste of the good life? If you live in a country renowned for its living and working conditions, you know. Which countries will help you achieve your dreams of health, happiness, and prosperity?

Here are the best countries for living and working:

  • Switzerland
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Canada
  • France
  • Norway
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Denmark
  • Finland 

This guide will take you through each of the 12 countries on the list above as we explain what’s so optimal about living and working there. By the time you’re done reading, you could just find your new home! 

The 12 Best Countries in the World for Living and Working

1. Switzerland

We’ll begin our list with Switzerland, a country much beloved for its rich quality of life. 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in its Better Life Index, rated Switzerland the following:

  • Housing – 6.9
  • Income – 8.9
  • Jobs – 9.4
  • Community – 8.2
  • Education – 7.4
  • Environment – 8.7 
  • Civic engagement – 3.2 
  • Health – 9.2
  • Life satisfaction – 8.7 
  • Safety – 9.3 
  • Work-life balance – 7.7

Homes in Switzerland have 1.9 rooms per person, while the OECD reports an average of only 1.7 rooms per person. The income is also higher than OECD averages, with plentiful employment. 

According to the OECD findings, 80 percent of Switzerland residents between 15 and 64 years old work. The average employment rate per OECD data is only 66 percent. You should find it easy to land a great job here.

Other excellent qualities of life in Switzerland include low crime rates, a very high water quality ranking, moderate air pollution, and a strong sense of community. Unsurprisingly, the life expectancy in Switzerland is 85 years old. 

2. South Korea

Immerse yourself in Asian culture in South Korea. Expats are treated well here, with contractual job opportunities often already set up so you can travel and move without stress. 

You’ll live in safety, as many homes and apartments in South Korea feature an electronic lock and keypad combo and/or magnetic door key instead of a traditional mechanical key. The crime rates are also low. 

A strong community of expats results in tight-knit bonds that could last a lifetime. That friendly atmosphere translates to the workplace. You don’t only work with your colleagues but sometimes go out drinking with them when the long day is over.

Living in South Korea is cheap, and although the apartments are small, between the low costs and delicious cuisine, you might never want to leave. 

You’ll also appreciate the affordable healthcare, especially if you’re coming from a country with high healthcare costs like the United States.  

3. Sweden

Rated extraordinarily highly for its quality of life, Sweden could be just the place for you. 

OECD ranks the country thusly in the following criteria:

  • Housing – 6.9
  • Income – 5.0
  • Jobs – 8.3 
  • Community – 7.8
  • Education – 8.3
  • Environment – 9.8
  • Civic engagement – 6.9
  • Health – 8.6
  • Life satisfaction – 8.1 
  • Safety – 8.6
  • Work-life balance – 8.1

Should you choose to live in Sweden, 20 percent of your gross adjusted disposable income will go toward your home, says OECD. The homes in this country have 1.7 rooms per person on average, which is the standard.

The average rate of reported income in Sweden exceeds the OECD average. Up to 75 percent of people from 15 to 64 years old have a job, which exceeds the OECD average of 66 percent. 

If you still need more reasons to live in Sweden, how about its strong social ties, incredible dedication to the environment, passionate civic engagement, and the life expectancy of residents in Sweden, which is 83.2 years old. People are healthy here! 

4. Canada 

An above-average country all around, Canada is an excellent place to live and work. OECD ranks this country as follows:

  • Housing – 7.8
  • Income – 5.3
  • Jobs – 8.4
  • Community – 7.5
  • Education – 7.8
  • Environment – 8.6
  • Civic engagement – 6.8
  • Health – 9.5
  • Life satisfaction – 7.1
  • Safety – 8.3
  • Work-life balance – 6.5

With an average of 2.6 rooms per person in a home in Canada, you’ll have plenty of space to call your own whether you’re living or renting here. That rate is well over the OECD average of 1.7 rooms per person.

The income rate in Canada is also higher than the reported average, although not the highest on our list, so keep that in mind. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding work here, as 70 percent of residents between 15 and 64 years old have a job. The average rate of employment according to OECD is 66 percent.

With a water quality of 90 percent and a tight-knit community, you have lots to look forward to if you live in Canada. This country is safe and has great public healthcare. The average life expectancy is 82 years, which is just over the average of 81 years. 

5. France 

Many people who consider living in France do so for its luxury and high-class status, but there are more reasons still to call this country home besides the architecture, fashion, and food. 

OECD ranks Frances as follows:

  • Housing – 6.8 
  • Income – 4.3 
  • Jobs – 7.5
  • Community – 8.2
  • Education – 6.3
  • Environment – 6.0
  • Civic engagement – 5.8
  • Health – 7.7
  • Life satisfaction – 6.1
  • Safety – 8.1 
  • Work-life balance – 8.1

The average household in France spends 21 percent of its gross adjusted disposable income on home costs like mortgage or rent. That’s not such a big expense considering the incomes here are slightly over the OECD average. 

It’s a bit tougher to find a job in France, as only 65 percent of people ages 15 to 64 work. The OECD average is 66 percent, so France comes in under the average, but only by a percent.

France doesn’t have the highest environmental marks, but the country is known for its community, higher-than-average rates of civic engagement, safety, and good healthcare. 

The average life expectancy here is over the average of 81 years by two years, with most people living up to 83 years in France. 

6. Norway 

As you contemplate your options, you can’t pass up the European country of Norway. OECD gives it high marks across the board, including:

  • Housing – 8.1 
  • Income – 4.6
  • Jobs – 8.8
  • Community – 8.7
  • Education – 7.4
  • Environment – 9.8
  • Civic engagement – 6.5
  • Health – 8.3
  • Life satisfaction – 8.0
  • Safety – 9.9

You’ll enjoy residing in a large home with more rooms per person than average, 2.1 versus 1.7. Do be aware that the rate of income is lower here, but with residents only spending 18 percent of their gross adjusted disposable income on housing, you might not mind that as much.

The employment rate is much higher than the OECD’s recorded average (66 percent) at 75 percent of working people between 15 and 64 years old. 

The impeccable environment is due in part to the prevalent use of electric cars. The air pollution is low and the water quality is a stunning 98 percent. People feel healthier here, with a life expectancy of 83 years.

Further, Norway has a high rate of life satisfaction, great community ties, and a high safety rating according to the OECD. 

7. Japan

If you’re interested in living and working in an Asian country, add Japan to your list. Here’s how the OECD rates it on various criteria on its Better Life Index:

  • Housing – 6.1
  • Income – 3.6
  • Jobs – 8.3
  • Community – 5.5 
  • Education – 7.7
  • Environment – 6.7
  • Civic engagement – 2.0
  • Health – 5.3
  • Life satisfaction – 4.1
  • Safety – 8.4
  • Work-life balance – 3.4

Japan offers moderately-sized homes, with the average room per person in this country 1.9, which is over the OECD standard of 1.7. 

Income is lower than the OECD’s average rate, but with so many jobs available, you can afford to be pickier until you find one that suits your desired income range. Up to 77 percent of people between 15 and 64 years old work in Japan.

However, be ready to work harder, as the culture prioritizes long hours and there’s a lower work-life balance than some of the other countries we’ve looked at.

The country prioritizes environmental health, with decent air pollution and high water quality.  Japan’s average life expectancy is 84 years old, which is three years over OECD’s average of 81 years. 

8. New Zealand 

Perhaps life in New Zealand is the right choice for you. The OECD’s Better Life Index gave the country the following marks:

  • Housing – 6.8
  • Income – 6.0
  • Jobs – 8.3
  • Community – 8.5
  • Education – 7.0
  • Environment – 8.1
  • Civic engagement – 7.5
  • Health – 9.2
  • Life satisfaction – 7.9
  • Safety – 7.3
  • Work-life balance – 4.9

So what is life truly like in New Zealand? The homes are sizable, with 2.4 rooms per person, well over the OECD’s average. However, the gross adjusted disposable income costs on housing are higher than the OECD’s standard, 26 percent versus the average of 20 percent.

The income you can rake in here is higher than average. Just be aware that you might put in more hours working than normal, as the work-life balance isn’t particularly high in New Zealand. 

As a testament to that, 77 percent of residents between 15 and 64 years old work. The community still finds time to be there for one another and to improve the environment. The most recent environmental goal of the country is to renew the water quality of a large lake. 

Many people here feel healthy, with an average life expectancy of 82 years old. Further, New Zealand is a safe place to live, as its homicide rate sits below the OECD average. 

9. Australia

You’d also make a smart choice to move to Australia if you’re itching for a life change. Here’s how OECD ranks the country:

  • Housing – 8.2
  • Income – 5.9
  • Jobs – 8.6
  • Community – 7.7
  • Education – 8.6
  • Environment – 8.9
  • Civic engagement – 8.9
  • Health – 9.3
  • Life satisfaction – 7.5
  • Safety – 7.4
  • Work-life balance – 4.4

With about 2.3 rooms per person in a home in Australia, you’ll have plenty of space to stretch your legs and relax. That rate is well above the OECD’s average of 1.7 rooms per person. The spending on housing in Australia is in line with the OECD average.

You’ll earn above-average salaries here but work harder for it, as Australia doesn’t have the highest work-life balance marks. Seventy-three percent of its residents from the ages of 15 to 64 work, which exceeds the OECD’s recorded unemployment average of 66 percent.

The country has a water quality of 92 percent and strives to lower agricultural emissions. Air quality in Australia is good.

The life expectancy is high, 83 years versus the average of 81 years. Australians rate living in this country well, and it gets decent marks for safety. 

10. Germany 

Next, let’s look at what life is like in Germany. This boisterous, beloved European country could be just the relocation environment you’ve been searching for. 

The OECD ranks it thusly:

  • Housing – 7.0 
  • Income – 4.8
  • Jobs – 8.9
  • Community – 6.2 
  • Education – 7.6
  • Environment – 7.7
  • Civic engagement – 5.3
  • Health – 7.1
  • Life satisfaction – 8.1
  • Safety – 8.3
  • Work-life balance – 8.0

If you decide to live in Germany, the homes have 1.8 rooms per person, which is slightly over the average. You’ll funnel 20 percent of your gross adjusted disposable income toward your home, which is also average.

Exceeding the OECD’s average for income, Germany has a huge workforce, with 77 percent of people between 15 and 64 working. With low unemployment rates, you should find your next job with ease. The country also has a much healthier work-life balance than the last few we’ve looked at!

Germany is making a move toward clean transportation, so its air quality could get better still. Its water quality is already great at 91 percent. 

Surprisingly, the life expectancy here is about average at 81.4 years, but that’s still plenty long. What surely helps is the lower-than-average homicide rate, which is 0.4. The OECD average is 2.6. 

11. Denmark 

Improve your wellbeing in Denmark, a country with high marks from OECD. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Housing – 6.3
  • Income – 3.3
  • Jobs – 8.7
  • Community – 8.3
  • Education – 8.0
  • Environment – 8.3
  • Civic engagement – 6.8
  • Health – 7.5
  • Life satisfaction – 8.8
  • Safety – 9.2
  • Work-life balance – 8.6

The average-sized homes in Denmark contain 1.9 rooms per person. Residents here spend 23 percent of their gross adjusted disposable income on housing. 

While the earning rates here are higher than the OECD average, they’re not high compared to other European countries. The rate of unemployment is also low in Denmark, with 74 percent of people between 15 and 64 years old holding down a job.

The sense of community is one reason to live in Denmark, as is the excellent air quality. People ride bicycles quite frequently in this country, which reduces pollution from cars. It’s no wonder you can literally breathe easier here!

Those who call Denmark home generally live 81 years, partly because this is one of the safest European countries. 

12. Finland 

You might also choose to make your new home in Finland. Here’s an overview of what life is like in this country per the OECD’s Better Life Index ranks:

  • Housing – 6.4 
  • Income – 3.8
  • Jobs – 8.2
  • Community – 8.9
  • Education – 9.2
  • Environment – 9.8
  • Civic engagement – 5.4
  • Health – 7.6
  • Life satisfaction – 10.0
  • Safety – 9.3
  • Work-life balance – 7.3

With a perfect score for life satisfaction, what exactly is it about Finland that makes it such an optimal place to live? 

Well, for one, there are the roomy living accommodations. Homes in Finland have about 1.9 rooms per person, which exceeds the OECD average. The average rate of spending on a home is 23 percent of a person’s gross adjusted disposable income. 

The income rates in Finland surpass the average, and unemployment is low. Up to 72 percent of people from 15 to 64 years old work. 

The community is known for letting people lean on others in their times of need, air pollution is exceedingly low, and the water quality is very high. The country has good civic engagement, a below-average homicide rate, and an average life expectancy of 82 years old.   


As you can see, there’s no one best country for living and working, but many. Now that you’ve reviewed the list, we recommend carefully weighing the pros and cons of each to select the best place for you to call home! 

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