Choosing where to live in the world is no easy feat. There are positives and negatives to each of the 195 countries that exist in the world; whether that’s economic stability, the weather, employment opportunities or the general lifestyle. But when it comes to happiness, it’s a lot tougher to measure. After all, happiness is subjective and as a result, it can be difficult to quantify. However, the World Happiness Report has managed to do just that by creating a study which measures happiness levels across the globe.The World Happiness Report has measured and ranked the world’s happiest countries, as of 2018, by analysing the following six factors: life expectancy, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), corruption, generosity, freedom and social support. This information is then correlated and compiled into a chart to demonstrate which countries are the happiest overall. This year, for the first time ever, the World Happiness Report has involved the United Nations to assess the happiness levels of migrant people in 117 of those countries. So what were the results?
Topping the list is Finland, a country with incredibly low threat levels and an education system which consistently ranks in the top tiers across the globe, alongside Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
These factors, combined with a deep appreciation for nature and extremely high environmental standards, make Finland one of the most peaceful places on Earth to live, and as per this year’s report, the happiest.
Once voted Europe’s most beautiful country, it’s easy to see why Norway ranks so highly. The combination of stunning fjords and the responsible management of natural resources means the country’s beauty is both plentiful and well-tended.
However, the country’s appeal isn’t just visual. Norway’s welfare and social equality regularly put it on top of global prosperity indexes, since residents are so well cared for.
Denmark is massively dedicated to its renewable energy production, while the beautiful coastlines definitely play a part in residents’ happiness levels. After all, you could spend a lifetime exploring the country’s coastline and never investigate it all.
The country is safe and secure, and rates highly in life expectancy, social support and generosity. Denmark slipped a place to end up third in the report this year, but that doesn’t make it any less a happy place to live.
With its high living standards, health care services, education and one of the smallest wealth gaps, Denmark has a lot to offer the people who call the country home.
The blue lagoon may be one of Iceland’s top tourist spots, but its otherworldly landscapes don’t only inspire visitors. Iceland also inspires residents, where one in ten residents publish a book, making it the most published country per capita.
Even bearing in mind its impressive literature and landscapes, the country still has more to offer. Iceland is renowned as one of the fairest, most equal and peaceful countries in the world which, in part, is thanks to its free healthcare system and low taxes.
A country with landscapes so diverse that lakes, villages and the peaks of the alps can all be seen dependant on where you stand, Switzerland has a lot to offer aesthetically. Its chocolate and watches are renowned, but Switzerland is mostly known for its hiking trails and ski resorts as well as banking and finance industries, which have helped to create a booming economy with favourable tax regimes.
In addition, Switzerland is a country where its residents feel heard. Everything from immigration to traffic changes and holiday allowance is voted upon and as a result, Switzerland has a strong infrastructure, and a direct democracy where its residents participate and feel an unparalleled attachment to their country and its evolution.
6. The Netherlands
The stereotypes suggest that the Netherlands is a place filled with bicycles, and that’s partially true – cyclists are known to get out and enjoy the fresh air and scenic routes, but the country has more than this to offer to keep residents happy.
The Netherlands is famed for its laissez-faire approach; an economic system where private transactions are free from intervention from the government. This approach extends past financial, meaning most citizens have a sense of liberty. In addition, a 2013 Unicef report stated that Dutch children were the happiest in the world thanks to the country’s educational, safety, health and well-being ratings.
Boasting a small population and a high life expectancy, Canada seems to have nailed the happiness metrics by offering its residents everything from busy cities to magnificent landscapes plus much more in between. In addition, the country offers a universal health care system, has an abundance of natural resources and is a safe place to live.
8. New Zealand
Geographically, New Zealand is pretty remote, yet it remains on top of many travellers’ wish lists. Its beatific way of life doesn’t solely appeal to passers-by though, as the residents are well aware of the beauty that lies on their doorsteps.
When New Zealand residents aren’t working, they tend to have a very ‘outdoorsy’ way of life and are dedicated to appreciating the natural beauty they’re surrounded by. Hiking is a pretty common way to get outside and see the natural beauty, but it can also be seen by car along the coast or driving on routes such as Arthur’s Pass.
Hip cities and beautiful wilderness create a stunning Scandinavian combination that attracts visitors from across the globe. However, for the residents who live there, it isn’t just the attractive landscapes which keep them happy, it’s the social equality.
Students begin to learn about social equality – a fundamental element of Sweden’s education system – from kindergarten age. The equality system isn’t just theoretical – it’s practical and offers free daycare and up to 16 months of paid parental leave which can be split between parents, making it one of the best places to balance a career and family life.
With its pristine beaches, laid-back lifestyle and the largest coral reef system in the world, Australia is a bucket list highlight for many people. Combine that with the year-round warm temperatures and healthy work/life balance and you have just a few of the reasons so many people love to call the country home.