Denmark is one of the best countries to live in the world. Image credit Nick N A via Shutterstock

The Best Countries to Live in

Everyone has something they adore about the country they grew up in, but statistically, some countries have more to love than others. After all, even nostalgia is not a substitute for a streamlined healthcare system, a rewarding housing market, and an edifying educational system. A handful of nations across the world are doing their best to nail every metric, and thanks to the up-to-date rankings from the Legatum Prosperity Index, it has never been easier to examine the fruits of their labor. The Legatum Prosperity Index is a yearly ranking which is run by the Legatum Institute, an educational charity group. In choosing where to settle, factors such as safety and happiness play a key role in guiding lifelong investments. So, to acknowledge the progress that each international community has made, or to help you choose a new life for yourself, these are the best countries to live in.


Panoramic morning scene of Faroe Islands, Denmark
Panoramic morning scene of Faroe Islands, Denmark. Image credit Andrew Mayovskyy via Shutterstock

"There is a lovely country" is a lyric from the 1819 Danish National anthem that still rings true 200 years later. Sweeping landscapes of endless meadows and fascinating geology make up this northern region, but more importantly, the people are happy. A few elements of Denmark's satisfaction include its competent public transport system, comfortable living conditions, and an emphasis on personal freedoms. Moreover, citizens strive to maintain a universal trust in their civic institutions, which leads to quick solutions to complex obstacles. Denmark’s weakest attribute is in its healthcare system, which still ranks better than New Zealand, Austria, and the United Kingdom. With over 167 competitors and numerous metrics, Denmark jostles for first place, often losing its edge from year to year to other top-contending countries.


Amazing nature view with fjord and mountains in Norway
Amazing nature view with fjord and mountains in Norway. Image credit Olena Tur via Shutterstock

A wealthy nation, Norway is a near-arctic landmass, known for its dazzling collection of fjords. Moreover, its powerful healthcare system and free university tuition work to instill loyalty and morale in the general populace. Each citizen knows that they are being taken care of. The country’s weaknesses are still ranked comparable to an average country’s strengths, such as the trade and market infrastructure. Furthermore, no other nation ranked as high in safety and security which is reassuring during this dynamic period of history, where tragedy goes hand in hand with the daily news. The country ranks high because life expectancy and social autonomy are core aspects of the human experience, and Norway excels at fostering those needs.


Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town architecture in Stockholm, Sweden
Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town architecture in Stockholm, Sweden. Image credit Oleksiy Mark via Shutterstock

Denmark's Nordic neighbor to the north, Sweden, is also commonly included on the list of the world's most desirable countries to live in. Sweden placed first, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index three years in a row in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Despite Sweden's slip to 3rd place, Swedes still experience some of the best quality of life in the world, with remarkable access to excellent quality education and health services. These services are only possible because of the nation’s success in exporting high-value goods, due to stockpiles of natural resources. Equal treatment of its citizens has allowed for conditions that promote enthusiastic market participation, and therefore a high quality of life. The stability of the Swedish economy showed in its resilience during the 2008 crash, which rocked the world’s markets. A happy place that enjoys fish and dairy to a curious degree, expect to see Sweden on the list every year.


Helsinki cityscape with Helsinki Cathedral and port, Finland
Helsinki cityscape with Helsinki Cathedral and port, Finland. Image credit Mistervlad via Shutterstock

In a world rife with corruption and abuse of power, it is remarkable that Finland scored as high as possible in terms of governance. The country also ranks high in areas related to the natural environment, a metric that focuses on future caretaking and public satisfaction with the surrounding environment. Socially, Finland has shortened the gender gap in all professions, which is likely related to its heavy investment in education since 1866. Transparency and civic participation take the country far. Maintaining a nation is a lot of work, but in Finland, everyone plays a key role, adding value to the country.


Historic city center of Lucerne with famous Chapel Bridge and lake Lucerne, Canton of Luzern, Switzerland
The historic city center of Lucerne with the famous Chapel Bridge and lake Lucerne, Canton of Luzern, Switzerland. Image credit Eva Bocek via Shutterstock

Crammed between the ancient regions of France, Germany, and Italy, Switzerland is a natural wonder made up of mountains, lakes, and medieval landmarks. Beyond its aesthetic beauty, the nation has striven to achieve an economic advantage due to its ideal location. Enterprise and efficiency are staples of the Swiss economy, and this has enabled them to create a country worth living in. Across the board, and especially in security, Switzerland scores top marks in citizen contentment. While it does not average out as high as countries such as Denmark, Switzerland has no apparent weaknesses in any department even though it is in 5th place. Therefore, for reliability, Switzerland is an obvious choice to settle or to stay put when preparing for the future.


Bike over canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bikes by the canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Image credit Yasonya via Shutterstock

Coming in at number six, the Netherlands has the best average living conditions, of any country, by far. Its economy stands strong on the shoulders of its service industry, which reveals its only weakness, the natural environment. However, it is a coastal nation known for expansive cycling routes through fields of flowers and windmills. Rich soils are a boon to its agricultural industry, so fresh produce and nutrition are affordable and in high supply. As one of the highest-earning nations in the world, with a GDP per capita of 56,297 USD in 2022, the country maintains a high bar for itself as it goes into the future. Overall, the Netherlands is a great country to live in because it emphasizes a work-life balance that enables its residents to invest in the hobbies and communities that they care about.

These are only a handful of the best countries in the world to live in. Countries that typically make an appearance, such as Luxembourg, New Zealand, Germany, and Iceland, are close behind on all available metrics. Rather than suggesting that one country is "the best" it is important to remember how much these statistics fluctuate. Furthermore, all of earth’s countries offer something exceptional to the world table, through their local cuisine, culture, and way of life. At the end of the day, these countries set a high standard for others to follow which leads to a better life for everyone, everywhere.

Rank (2021) Country
1 Denmark
2 Norway
3 Sweden
4 Finland
5 Switzerland
6 Netherlands
7 Luxembourg
8 New Zealand
9 Germany
10 Iceland
11 Austria
12 Ireland
13 United Kingdom
14 Singapore
15 Canada
16 Australia
17 Estonia
18 Hong Kong
19 Japan
20 United States
21 Taiwan, China
22 France
23 Belgium
24 Spain
25 Malta
26 Slovenia
27 Czechia
28 Portugal
29 South Korea
30 Latvia
31 Italy
32 Israel
33 Lithuania
34 Cyprus
35 Slovakia
36 Poland
37 Uruguay
38 Chile
39 Costa Rica
40 Croatia
41 United Arab Emirates
42 Malaysia
43 Greece
44 Hungary
45 Mauritius
46 Qatar
47 Romania
48 Bulgaria
49 Montenegro
50 Seychelles

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