The pound retreated on Thursday after the Bank of England (BoE) struck a more cautious tone than expected following its latest policy meeting.
Happiness is a crucial gauge of national and global wellbeing, and so the World Happiness Report – especially this year – is more poignant than ever before.
With this in mind, we’ve tried to uncover the secrets of happiness in some of the countries ranked in the top ten of the report that could appeal to those thinking about starting a life as an expat.
Finland: The world’s happiest country – againFinland came out on top of the World Happiness Report for the fourth year running in the UN-sponsored report. But what is it about Finland that makes it so cheery?
The authors of the report said that Finland “ranked very high on the measures of mutual trust that have helped to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemic”. This speaks volumes and suggests the Finnish people are naturally friendly and caring, making it one of the most successful countries to emerge out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite Finland’s notoriously cold climate, people are immensely happy with the nation’s extensive welfare benefits, excellent democracy, and low levels of corruption.
All these qualities have instilled a general sense of freedom and autonomy in a world which appears to be increasingly limiting and claustrophobic. Added to these perks, it’s reported that more than 80% of Finns trust the nation’s police force, far more than almost any other country.
Finland, as well as some of its Scandinavian neighbours such as Norway and Sweden, are fast shaping up to be expats favourites.
Not only is the work-life balance becoming better by the year, but their economies are expected to rebound quicker than the rest of Europe from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Netherlands: Great festivals, museums, and a vibrant café cultureThe Netherlands also performed well in the World Happiness Report, coming in fifth, behind Iceland and in front of Norway. The population of Netherlands is 17.3 million and has a world-respected level of institutional truth and strong social bonds.
As well as being the second-largest exporter of food in the world, its mild climate and enormous agricultural sector makes for an excellent choice for expats. Netherlands is also fifth in the European Union’s Gender Equality Index 2020 and has one of the lowest levels of unemployment in Europe.
Despite present concerns about Covid-19 cases in Netherlands, expats would benefit from the nation’s culture and exciting nightlife and café culture.
According to Expat Arrivals, one of great pros of the Netherlands is its “summer musical festivals that pop up in parks and public spaces” and other “well-supported cultural events throughout the year, where museums and galleries open their doors to the public for nominal fees.”
So, if you’re looking for a mixture of culture, solid employment prospects, mild European weather, and a promising economic future post-Covid-19, then the Netherlands would make an excellent choice for any budding expat.
Switzerland: Clean and refreshing with high living standardsSwitzerland ranked third in this year’s happiness report and is always a firm expat favourite.
Why? Aside from having the highest nominal wealth per adult, the nation is well-noted for its cleanliness standards alongside its serious commitment to the environment. The cost-of-living, however, more than accounts for these high-standards, reflecting those of big cities like London or New York.
Swiss people are also well-known to be extremely polite and reliable. Charlotte Ruhle, an expat living in Switzerland, told TimeOut:
“Once you understand that you are living in a different culture (but a very welcoming and accepting one!) and you learn how to play the game, life here is extremely relaxing, satisfying and rewarding.”
The nation’s capital, Geneva, is also a hub of culture, with plenty of museums, exhibitions, theatres, and art galleries. Living in Switzerland has many rewards, and the nation prides itself on its enormous range of an urban and outdoor activities.
New Zealand: A well-being budget that inspires happiness and healthIn recent years, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has focused increasingly on adopting the Happiness Index metric, which focuses primarily on citizens’ wellbeing over and above the GDP and budget. And this approach seems to have paid off.
Jeff Butterworth, the co-founder of Happy Healthy You, highlights some of the key points about why New Zealand might be one of the fastest-developing happy nations:
“The New Zealand Ministry of Health has [recently] revealed around half of adults do at least 2.5 hours of activity a week. The most recent Sport New Zealand Active NZ Survey found 72 per cent of adults participated in sports or active recreation per week."
“Kiwis are striving to stay as happy and healthy as possible and we are hoping by opening our new warehouse, we can better service our loyal New Zealand customer base.”
Added to this, New Zealand has had significant success tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. Already many in New Zealand are celebrating their hard-won freedom from the virus, making New Zealand the envy of the world.
Denmark: A country where you’re free to change your lifeDenmark has always performed well in the World Happiness Report for its strong belief in social welfare. The country’s healthcare is one of the world’s best, with no fee for the patient, much like the UK’s NHS.
Added to this, childcare is also subsidised and those who acquire a pension are treated very well. All this, of course, accounts for the nation’s high levels of happiness.
Professor Christian Bjørnskov, a professor of economics at Aarhus University, explains:
“Danes feel empowered to change things in their lives. What is special about Danish society is that it allows people to choose the kind of life they want to live. They rarely get caught in a trap. This means they’re more satisfied with their lives.”
Denmark has also recently announced its timeline for the end of most of its Covid-19 restrictions, with all restrictions due to be lifted once all above 50-years-old have been vaccinated. As these measures are eased, it’s likely we’ll see expats become increasingly interest in Denmark, which has always performed well in reports and expat reviews.
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