The Best Places for Expat Families in 2015
Austria is at the top of the Family Life Index. But Finland and Sweden also impress with the quality, cost, and availability of childcare and education.
The Family Life Index ranks countries according to their results in these subcategories: availability of childcare and education, costs of childcare and education, quality of education, family well-being, as well as childcare and education options. This year, a question regarding available leisure activities for kids was included in the Family Well-Being subcategory.
In total, 41 countries are included in this index. In order to be included, each country needed over 30 survey respondents raising kids abroad who rated the above factors on a scale of one to seven.
Family Life Index
Austria: Expat Parents' First Choice
Austria makes it to the top of the Family Life Index, compared to fourth place in 2014. The clear winner in this category of this year's Expat Insider survey receives the best results for the availability of childcare and education, with 74% and 76% positive ratings, respectively.
However, it improved the most in terms of the quality of education and family well-being. In both cases, Austria occupied 11th place in 2014 and makes it to second place this year. Indeed, an impressive 92% of expat parents rate Austria's quality of education favorably, compared to a global average of 65%. When it comes to family well-being, Austria receives impressive ratings for children's health and safety (98% positive answers), children's general well-being (100%), available leisure activities for kids (95%), and family life in general (96%).
However, the country still has to improve its attitude towards families with children. All in all, 11% give Austria a negative rating for this aspect. Friendliness in Austria leaves a lot to be desired anyway: 31% rate the friendly attitude towards foreign residents negatively and 24% are unhappy with the general friendliness of the population.
Finland: The Best Education in the North
Due to the low number of respondents in 2014, Finland did not rank in last year's Family Life Index. This year, however, the country makes it to second place and receives the best ratings for its quality of education.
Finland ranks first out of 41 countries in this subcategory, with 92% of expat parents giving it a positive rating. In fact, 66% even find the quality of education very good, compared to a global average of 21%. Finland has one of the highest scores in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and one of the leading education systems in the world.
Finland also makes it to third place for the availability of childcare and education, as well as the related costs. In total, 66% of parents are generally satisfied with the availability of childcare, while 72% give the availability of education a positive rating. However, 12% and 14%, respectively, are unhappy with these factors.
Finland ranks behind Sweden, Austria, and the Philippines when it comes to the costs of childcare, but makes it to first place for the costs of education. Altogether, 81% of expat parents agree that education is easy to afford there, twice the global average of 41%. In fact, education, from pre-primary levels to higher education, is completely free of charge. Moreover, text books, daily meals, and transportation are free or partly funded.
Finland occupies a good sixth place in the Family Well-Being subcategory but only ranks 47th out of 64 countries in terms of a friendly attitude towards families with children. Still, 73% are satisfied with the attitude towards families with children, just a little less than the global average of 76%. Only 7% gave this factor a negative rating.
Last Year's Winner Is Still Going Strong
While Sweden occupies third place and, hence, still made it onto the podium, the country lost a few "votes" compared to last year, when it came in first. The country still ranks first for the cost of childcare and education and second for the availability of childcare and education. However, it dropped from 14th to 21st place for the quality of education and from 3rd to 10th place for family well-being. All in all, 71% of parents are still satisfied with the quality of education, while 16% give it a negative rating.
While the results in the Family Well-Being subcategory could theoretically be explained by the additional factor concerning available leisure activities, this question yielded mostly positive results (92%). Instead, Sweden only ranks 20th for family life in general and 28th out of 64 countries for a friendly attitude towards families with children. For both factors, the country still does a little better than the global average, though, with 85% and 84% satisfied survey respondents, respectively.
- Expat Insider 2015 - Healthy Countries for Happy Kids
- Expat Insider 2015 - Childcare for Expat Kids
- Expat Insider 2015 - Education for Expat Kids around the World
- Expat Insider 2014 - Family Life Index
- Expat Guide to Austria
- Expat Guide to Finland
- Expat Guide to Sweden
- Family & Relationships — a comprehensive guide for expat couples and families
- CNN: Why Finland's Schools Are Top-Notch
- Ministry of Education and Culture: Financing of Education