What are the best countries to live in? It’s a simple question with surprisingly simple answers. Although numerous organizations use different criteria to respond to this question, most of the key factors are obvious. The best countries to live in have nationalized health care, high-quality education, low unemployment, plenty of nature, and a strong sense of community.

an aerial view of Cape Town

No wonder Scandinavia always does so well in these studies! In this article, we’ll take a look at some of 2018’s best countries to live in. As you’ll see, many of the nations on this list have long track records of providing their citizens with happy and healthy lives.

The Top 6 Best Countries to Live in

1. Switzerland

Matterhorn Peak in Switzerland

Switzerland has always been considered one of best countries to live in. For hundreds of years, Europeans would spend their holiday in this marvelously peaceful nation. Well known for its pacifism and sublime natural scenery, Switzerland clinched the top spot inย the 2017 U.S. News & World Report survey of the best 80 nations on earth.

Switzerland also came in third place on the UN’s 2017 list of best nations and fourth in the 2017 World Happiness Report. One reason for Switzerland’s higher standard of life has to do with its strong sense of community spirit. Switzerland has extremely strong Good Samaritan laws on the books, which makes it one of the safest and friendliest nations on earth. The life expectancy in Switzerland is currently 83 years old.

2. Australia

The Sydney Opera House in Australia

Many younger people dream of living in Australia. That’s according to a new survey that asked millennials where they would most like to settle down. The top response from young adults in this survey was almost unanimous: Australia. Not only does Australia have some of the finest beaches in the world, but it also has one of the best education systems.

Currently, five percent of Australia’s GDP goes to education, and the average Australian student will go to school for at least 20 years. The 2017 U.S. News & World Report study put Australia in eighth place, but the UN study awarded the “Land Down Under” with a second place finish. The current life expectancy in Australia is around 82 years old.

3. The Netherlands

a windmill in Netherlands

It should be no surprise that the Netherlands came in at number six on countries millennials would most like to move to. This European nation has a reputation for its laid-back lifestyle, youthful vibe, and liberal leanings (especially in its capital city of Amsterdam). The UN put the Netherlands in the number seven spot on their top nations list.

Authors of the UN study praised the Netherlands’ 12.4 percent income inequality rate, one of the lowest in the world. It’s also worth noting that the Netherlands has one of the lowest unemployment rates (5.1 percent) in all of the European Union. In sharp contrast to other EU nations, the unemployment rate in the Netherlands has only gone down in the past few years. The current life expectancy in the Netherlands is around 81 years old.

4. Denmark

a city landscape in Denmark

The Danes are experts at happiness. Denmark always places high in the annual World Happiness Report. While it came in second place this year, it has been the happiest place on earth for the last three year. The UN praised Denmark for its strides in gender equality, noting that the median wage gap between Danish men and women is currently only 7.8 percent.

One reason for Denmark’s high happiness levels has to do with the sense of collective responsibility many citizens feel towards each other. Many Danes go out of their way to volunteer, and most feel a great sense of belonging. The Danes, like most other Scandinavian nations, also put great emphasis on education and a healthy work-life balance. The current life expectancy in this northern nation hovers around 80.

5. Japan

a temple and a cherry tree in Japan

Japan is often considered one of the best countries to live in, in Asia. The island nation came in fifth place on the 2017 U.S. News & World Report’s study, the highest position for any Asian nation. Japan is an incredibly safe nation with a homicide rate of only 0.3. Anyone with children should note that the Japanese education system is one of the most successful in the world.

The Japanese population has an astonishing literacy rate of 99 percent with an average IQ of 105. And, of course, who could forget the amazing Japanese cuisine, which was recently added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Without a doubt, Japan is still one of the best countries to live in. Life expectancy is extremely high in Japan, currently hovering around 83 years old.

6. Norway

a climber in Norway mountains

2017 marks the 13th time the Scandinavian nation of Norway has clinched the top spot on the UN’s quality of life report. This year, the UN praised Norway’s national healthcare service. Norwegians now enjoy a life expectancy of 82. Most surveys suggest Norwegians are living the happiest lives on the planet. The World Happiness Report gave the number one spot to Norway this year.

People working at the World Happiness Report say the Norwegians live happier lives than the rest of the world mainly because they spend a great deal of time enjoying the nation’s amazing natural scenery at their mandatory log cabins (called hytta in Norwegian). Norwegians are also known for spending long hours with friends and family.

Interestingly, many Norwegians say they are happier than the rest of the world because they have easy access to pristine natural scenery away from the innovations of modern society. Most Norwegians also say their shared belief that experiences are more important than material possessions is a major reason for their happiness.

Believe it or not, Norwegians actually have a word for helping people without expecting any return (Norwegian: dugnad). Although the fjords in Norway are spectacular, it’s the kindness and generosity of the people that truly makes this one of the best countries to live in.

Bottom Line

It’s so easy nowadays to travel around the world. With the rapid advances in technology, it’s possible for anyone with access to the Internet to become a digital nomad. If you’re thinking about settling down with a family in a new nation, you might want to consider trying to get into one of the nations listed above. All of the countries on this list are some of the finest in the world.

As the years wane on, these countries are only expected to raise their already high standards of living. So, if you have the capital and the courage to do so, go ahead and book a flight to one of these cheerful destinations. Once you arrive there, you’ll be glad you did.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7