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Top 10 Countries with a Great Work-Life Balance

Munich, 23 May 2018
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.

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With more than 3.3 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 more than 6,000 monthly events and activities. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and forums to help members with topics such as local housing and searching for jobs. InterNations is primarily a community for expats, but also global minds. As a community of trust, membership is by application only.

Press Contact

Vera Grossmann
Public Relations
InterNations GmbH
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Tel: +49 (0)89 461 3324 79
Fax: +49 (0)89 461 3324 99
Email: press@internations.org
Homepage: www.internations.org

Contact Us

Vera Grossmann
Media spokesperson
Country-specific versions are available in different languages in the download section at the end of each press release and upon request.