Norway Is the Third Best Country for Work-Life Balance

Photo: Daniel X. O'Neil

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Norway offers the third best work-life balance for expats, according to latest Expat Insider survey by Internations.

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.

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.

According to the survey, Denmark, Bahrain, Norway, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Sweden, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Oman, and Malta are the best countries that provide work-life balance.

On the survey, Norway is ranked the 3rd best country. Expats in Norway are highly satisfied with their work-life balance (72%) and their working hours (77%). In fact, they only spend an average of 42.9 hours per week at work, which is 1.4 hours less than expats in full-time jobs worldwide (44.3 h).

Twelve percent of expats in Norway have a gross yearly household income of more than 150,000 USD — among the featured top 10 countries only the share of those in New Zealand is higher (14%). Therefore, it is not very surprising that 72 percent of expats believe that they make more in Norway than they would in a similar job back home. This isn’t only far above the global average (51%), but also the highest share out of the top 10 countries with a great work-life balance. However, it seems like it’s still not enough: with 71 percent of expats rating the cost of living in Norway negatively (vs. 35% globally), it’s clear to see why 21 percent state that their disposable household income doesn’t cover everything they need in daily life.

Illustration: InterNations

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About the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 Survey

For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 16 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up six topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living Index. Except for the latter, all indices were further averaged in order to rank 65 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2017 the top 10 were Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, Portugal, New Zealand, Malta, Colombia, Singapore, and Spain.

For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey participants per country was necessary. The only exception to this is the Family Life Index, where a sample size of more than 40 respondents raising children abroad was required. In 2017, 65 and 45 countries respectively met these requirements. However, in most countries the sample size exceeded 100 participants.

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