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Countries with the Best Work-Life Balance

Having time for self-care, friends, and family is essential to maintain your overall happiness and to avoid burnout at work. 

Maintaining a proper work-life balance is a necessity, and it’s time for all countries to treat it that way! The reality is, however, that some countries do have a better work-life balance than others. For many expats looking to work abroad, moving to a country with great work-life balance is on the priority list. After all, adjusting to a new country and all that comes with it is quite an adventure- so, being able to have that time to explore your neighborhood, make new friends, or just have some downtime at home, is important.

In order to be your best working self in the office, you need that self-care time or fun, social outings to help you recharge and avoid facing burnout in the office. Despite how cliché as it may sound, the saying “Work to live, not live to work” should be a motto everyone lives by!

For those of you who are thinking about moving abroad or are simply curious, here are the top countries with the best work-life balance:

Netherlands

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Not only do the Netherlands exemplify some of the best work-life balance, it also ranks as the world’s sixth happiest nation according to Eurostat. The Dutch are all about embracing a balanced life-style, with employers and employees seeming to equally share this sentiment. There is even a Dutch concept, ‘niksen,’ which literally translates to ‘doing nothing.’ Niksen is all about engaging in activities that calm you, avoiding burnout and relaxing in order to be the best and happiest version of yourself.

OECD reports that only 0.4% of Dutch employees actually work long hours, which is the lowest rate reported from any of the countries assessed in the survey. When you consider that the average time spent working long hours around the world is 11%, this number is pretty impressive!

Denmark

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With the lowest child-poverty rate in the world, a significantly higher than average percentage of leisure time, one of the highest employment rates for women, and a mandatory five weeks of paid vacation- it’s no wonder why Denmark is known for its impressive work-life balance.

People in Denmark spend 68% of their day, or 16.3 hours, devoted to self-care and time off from work. The official working week in Denmark is 37 hours, with overtime typically being compensated for. Employers not only have mandatory holidays, but they also are given fully paid days off for when their children are sick.

Something called ‘flexjobs’ exists in Denmark, which essentially provides employees with more flexible or shorter hours according to their personal-life needs. Employers are in turn paid based on the quality and productiveness of their work, rather than by set hours.

Norway

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Norway proves that you can take time for yourself and excel at your job!

Did you know that Norway is listed as the world’s 3rd most productive country? This just shows that work-life balance is actually beneficial to one’s performance at their workplace- so, stop feeling guilty about that Netflix bingeing!

Family values are incredibly important in Norway- and many Norwegians consider their time with family to be just as essential as work when it comes to their schedule. It's one of the leading countries when it comes to parenthood- parents are able to take 49% of full pay for parental leave.

Any work exceeding 40 hours is considered overtime, with the norm being 37 hours per week.

Belgium

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Belgium holds the number one title for happiest country, according to the Global Workplace Happiness Index 2020.

Employers in Belgium are very good at treating their employees as individuals who require independent needs and support, which is why there are such great staff benefits and overall work-life balance. They enjoy shorter hours, with a 38 hour average per week, and there are ten public holidays a year for which employees get the day off. In addition to this, 32 paid days of leave are offered per year. Flexible work initiatives continue to be on the rise in Belgium, and more employers are embracing remote work. The country’s very convenient transport systems make it super easy for those living in Belgium to travel and work from various locations while working remotely, especially since many employees prefer to live in the countryside and commute.


Overall, these countries prove that maintaining a balanced lifestyle and proper self-care is absolutely essential for your overall well being. A tired, cranky and overworked employee is going to be no good in the office- so, try not to deprive yourself and instead put work aside when you’re not working, to make that special time for yourself, family and friends.

Are you thinking about moving abroad? If so, hopefully this has inspired you to bump up that work-life balance on your checklist! If you need any further advice on this topic, or would like to learn more about working abroad, do not hesitate to reach out. Our team is always here to help.

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