In order to have an extremely happy and healthy life, you depend a lot on the resources around you in your country of residence. People who live in countries that offer comfortable housing, plenty of medical services, employment opportunities, and strong community ties are significantly happier and healthier than those in countries that are lacking on one or more of those.
While no country is perfect, the countries compiled on this list house the happiest people on Earth due to the many resources that are available to them, from strong public transportation to availability of medical care. Affordability of housing, entertainment, and other living costs are also an important factor.
The countries on this list are among the best places in the world to live. The people are happier overall due to their high quality of living. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently released its 2016Better Life Index of countries with the best quality of life.
To do this, the OECD studied 34 countries across 11 parameters of well-being, including work-life balance, financial wealth, safety, education, and environmental quality, medical care, sanitation, and shelter, foundations of Wellbeing, which covers education, access to technology, and life expectancy, opportunity, which looks at personal rights, freedom of choice, and general tolerance.
Here are the top countries with high quality life:
This country boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world. The OECD found that students in the Netherlands score above-average in math, science, and reading comprehension tests. The Netherlands is famously one of the most tolerant countries in the world, so its position in the top ten should be no surprise. It is one of the highest-scoring countries on “personal freedom and choice.”
The country fell eight spots from last year’s index. The percentage of Iceland’s labor force that has been unemployed for a year or longer is at nearly 0.7%, lower than the OECD average of 2.6%. Speaking of beautiful countries, Iceland scores very well in social progress, particularly in the “basic human needs” index and GDP per capita. Its football team has proven itself a force to be reckoned with too.
9. The United States
Though it fell four spots from last year’s Index, the US comes out on top in areas of housing, income, and wealth. The average household disposable income is $41,071 per year, the highest in OECD’s study.
In Finland, 4% of employees work long hours, which is much lower than the OECD average of 13%. Everyone says Scandinavian nations have the highest standard of living, and now Finland has made it official. It scores highly on almost every index on the report, from basic needs, foundations of wellbeing and personal freedoms. If you move there just make sure to bring warm coat — temperatures can reach minus 50 celsius in the winter!
7. New Zealand
Rising two spots this year, New Zealand prioritizes the environment. Greenhouse emissions are relatively low in the country, mainly due to its low population. New Zealand’s tourist board calls it “the youngest country in the world,” and it is certainly one of the most beautiful. “Opportunity” is where it scores really high, as a low population means jobs are in abundance.
People in Sweden have a high level of civic engagement. In the most recent election, 83% of residents turned out to vote for its parliament. “Water and sanitation” may be taken for granted in developed economies, but it is not enjoyed everywhere. Luckily it is an area Sweden nails, scoring 99.77. The country also picks up high scores in “nutrition” and “personal rights.”
This country ranks high in affordable housing. In the 2000s, Toronto and Vancouver’s government rezoned all single family neighborhoods, so that homeowners could rent out extra rooms (thus increasing the amount of affordable rent available). For such a huge nation, Canada only has 35 million citizens, and they are some of the best looked after in the world. Canada’s healthcare is what stands it above the rest. Education and opportunity in the country are also impressively strong.
The unemployment rate in Switzerland hovers around 3.1%, one of the lowest in the world. Switzerland may have some of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but its citizens get value for money. According to the Social Progress Report, “medical”, “nutritional” and “access to basic knowledge” is where the country shines.
The country jumped 7 spots from last year’s index, and ranks high in paid vacation time, averaging 5 weeks off per year. On average, full-time workers report devoting 66% of their days to “personal care” (i.e. not working). Denmark has one of the best social mobility and income equality rates in the world, so no surprise it makes it into the top three on this list. “Basic human needs” is where the country scores particularly highly, though its “health and wellness” stats such as life expectancy could be higher.
Although Australia ranked as number one for 2013 and 2014 (then fourth in 2015), it is second in this year’s index. The OECD found that people feel a strong sense of community in Australia: 95% of Australians believe they know someone they could rely on. There is a good reason so many people want to start a new life “down under.” Australia has fantastic education, job opportunities and a strong sense of personal freedom. Its “tolerance and inclusion” score could be higher though.
The country also scored highest last year. People are living their best lives in Norway, where a majority have paid jobs, a high level of education, and live an average of 82 years. Get used to seeing Scandinavian nations in the top ten. Norway is big on “nutrition and basic medical care,” and its “access to basic knowledge” is strong too. Many have said the Norway model is one to follow for a non-EU UK.