If you’ve been considering uprooting yourself from your hometown and taking an adventure to another part of the world for an extended stay, you’ll likely need to find a job once you’re there.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the truth of the matter is that many countries in the world don’t see work-life balance the same way that we do in North America.
To help you Getaway Well on your next life-changing trip, we’ve put together some information about the countries with the best work-life balance across the world.
But before we dive into the countries with the best work-life balance, let’s talk about what a healthy work-life balance is.
Most people put in long days at their job once in a while, but it’s an exception to the rule, not their standard schedule.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone. Plus, with the shift to remote working environments in early 2020, many people are having a hard time creating a clear division between their home life and their work life.
This means that for some people, they can’t find the time to get all their work done or turn it off at the end of their workday so that they can enjoy their free time.
Others have difficulty focusing while working from home, which creates challenges with their workflow and productivity.
Finding a level where you can get all your necessary work accomplished, as well as set aside time for yourself is what a healthy work-life balance is all about.
There are some great books on work-life balance you can read as well if you’re finding yourself struggling.
Unfortunately for those of us in North America, Canada, and the United States aren’t typically considered countries with the best work-life balance.
Many businesses neglect to even consider the work-life balance of their employees, and those that do tend to have a skewed opinion about what a healthy work-life balance is supposed to actually look like.
With that in mind, let’s talk about some countries that are doing work-life balance the right way.
Anytime you start looking up countries with the best work-life balance, it’s no surprise that Denmark appears near the top (or at the top) of every one of those lists.
In Denmark, only 2% of the working population works long hours, which gives residents of Denmark plenty of time for personal activities.
In addition to this, Denmark is known for its very generous financial support policies for families that have young children.
This not only gives new parents the chance to spend valuable time with their kids, but it reduces the stress necessary to maintain financial stability in the first few months/years after a child is born.
Another one of the countries with the best work-life balance that you’ll often hear about is The Netherlands.
That’s probably because the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of people working long hours at less than 1%. In fact, it comes in at around half of that, which is impressive.
Another country that cares heavily about supporting parents with young children, the Netherlands are also known for their gender equality, which sees men and women sharing equal responsibilities both at work and at home.
Work-life balance is great in Norway, though gender equality in the workplace may not be quite as fantastic, since 4% of men work long hours vs 1% of women.
Regardless, their average is a low 3% of long hours worked, which is still dramatically lower than the OECD average of around 13% and quite impressive.
Norway also has a low unemployment rate of 3.7%, and because jobs are so family-friendly in Norway, many people are content to stay in the same positions for longer periods. If you’re looking for a position with good job security, Norway might be the right place to start your search.
Belgium is another country where men tend to work a lot longer hours than women, but still substantially more than the global averages (7% for men, 2% for women).
People living in Belgium spend substantial personal time with friends and family, as opposed to working, which certainly helps improve their daily lives.
Also, the Belgian Federal Public Service Social Security has been named Belgium’s best employer because of their incredible and revolutionary stance on flex time. If you’re planning to move to Belgium, we’d suggest you start looking for work here.
Many people compare the incredible work-life balance achieved in Spain to that of Denmark since they have similar working trends – although people in Spain are working a little later.
The other major difference that sets Spain further down our list than some of the other countries with the best work-life balance is its (still-improving) level of female empowerment in the workplace.
While this is improving every year, the low fertility rates in the country, combined with the reduced number of women working full-time could have something to do with Spain’s higher level of work-life balance.
New Zealanders are quick to tell you that the lifestyle in New Zealand is extremely laid back and relaxed.
Perhaps it’s because this attitude has carried over into the workplace that New Zealand has become one of the countries with the best work-life balance.
Only 73% of people work full-time hours in New Zealand, so overall there’s a lot more time for people to spend on their leisure activities, traveling, or enjoying time with loved ones.
You might have expected Sweden to be a little bit higher on this list, and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking that because people in Sweden are known for their high levels of happiness and quality of life.
You might be interested to know that Sweden has a focus on lagom, which is the virtue of moderation and balance. Knowing that it’s no shock that people in Sweden have a good work-life balance.
In fact, of Sweden’s working population only about 1% of people are working long hours, which is a pretty incredible feat. Definitely worth considering if you’re trying to find countries with the best work-life balance.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Italy is known for having a wonderful work-life balance, compared to some other European countries.
Only 4% of people in Italy are working long hours, and many people who’ve spent time in Italy will tell you that there’s a fantastic culture of food there, where meals throughout the day are to be cherished, instead of hurried through.
It’s not uncommon for people in Italy to take 2-hour lunches, so that they can have some food and then a nap, before returning to work for the day. That’s what a healthy work-life balance is all about!
When you think of the French countryside, it’s easy to imagine people sitting on their porches, or parked at tiny tables in cafes throughout the tiny towns throughout the country.
The truth of the matter is that although 8% of French workers are working long hours throughout the week, they still manage to set aside substantial amounts of time to spend on their hobbies and with loved ones.
In all fairness, we can think of a few ways that living and working in more rural areas of France would definitely improve our work-life balance, so we suspect you’d say the same.
Lithuania is one country you may not have expected to find on this list, but it’s true – they’re one of the countries with the best work-life balance in the world.
Actually, Lithuania is another country that has a shockingly low percentage of their working population that are putting in long hours, coming in at around 0.5%.
While it’s great that they have a good work-life balance, the unfortunate truth is that part of the reason people are working shorter days is because of tensions affecting their international trades.
Thankfully, its economy is still strong enough to continue growing upwards, even if it isn’t as quick as it used to be.
Despite being #11 on our list of countries with the best work-life balance, Switzerland actually has the lowest number of people working long hours each week – 0.4%. Their unemployment rate is also extremely low, at 4.4%.
The Swiss are known for being incredibly skilled and hard-working, which is why so much precision engineering is done here. However, their technical expertise doesn’t stop them from ensuring that they’re setting aside time for themselves outside of work.
With all the gorgeous scenery and architecture to enjoy while you’re living in Switzerland, you’ll never find yourself lacking in places to visit and explore.
With many industries in the manufacturing and industrial categories, you wouldn’t expect that Germany would have as good of a work-life balance as it does, but it’s true.
Plus, the unemployment rate is less than 3.5% in Germany, so there are very few people who are out of work. People in Germany are known for their strong work ethics, but they’re also known for playing as hard as they work.
You might be surprised to know that full-time workers in Germany actually give over two-thirds of their day to leisure and personal activities, which is a great balance.
Sometimes traveling to or working well in the countries with the best work-life balance takes more than just mindful planning on your part.
In this case, we have a couple of accessories we think could help make your trip that much less stressful and more versatile.
Part of understanding what a healthy work-life balance involves giving yourself the freedom to get up and move around.
Why travel to another part of the world just to lock yourself at a desk in a different time zone? Plan ways to explore while you’re working. Take mini-workstations.
This travel toiletry bag is the perfect thing to pack for these types of travel work adventures because you can grab everything you need to go for the afternoon or overnight at a moment’s notice.
Following the same type of mentality that we just discussed with the toiletry bag, this travel laptop backpack means that you can comfortably take your work with you on the road.
Spend an afternoon getting some data entry or scheduling done at a local cafe. Plan an afternoon picnic where you make adjustments to your PowerPoint presentation.
Just because you want to draw a line at the end of the day between work and life, doesn’t mean that you can’t make the work portions of your day a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.
When you’re trying to figure out how to travel the world for work, you need to think about how to make good choices.
You need to consider how to eat healthy and maintain some type of morning fitness routine.
More than all of that, you should take serious time to think about countries with the best work-life balance, so that you can start any big journey in the right direction.
If you’re living somewhere that values work-life balance as much as you do, you’ll be on your way to Getaway Well no matter where you’re living or working.