European Life-Work Balance Index

Today nine of the top 10 happiest nations in the world are European. The continent is fast becoming a place that puts life before work: a truly harmonious balance.

Life-work balance is an evolving definition, changing the way we juggle our personal lives alongside the demands of our careers. The term is coined most keenly among young working professionals and those whose eyes were opened to the benefits of working remotely over the past years.

However, a strong life-work balance extends beyond the ability to work from home. To measure work-life balance accurately, a variety of factors need to be considered.

We have conducted an index data analysis to reveal the top countries to live and work in Europe. We’ve considered factors such as healthcare, minimum wage, maternity leave, statutory annual leave, sick pay, and overall happiness levels to paint a clear picture.

Which nations come out on top? Read on to find out, and remember the Remote Relocation program is ready to help you relocate to a collection of the countries listed in the top 30. We can provide visa application support and sponsorship for employers to make the entire process as seamless as possible!

Top 10 countries in Europe for better work-life balance

Here are the top 10 countries in Europe that can offer you the best life-work balance. These 10 countries achieved the highest scores out of 100 in our index analysis:

Overall
rank
European
country
& capital city
2022
population
Index
score / 100
Statutory
annual leave
(days)
Minimum
sick pay
(% of total)
Paid
maternity leave
and payment rate
(weeks and wage %)
Minimum
wage
(USD/hr)
Healthcare
system
Happiness
index
(out of 10)
1Luxembourg,
Luxembourg
Remote relocation available
642,37183.473710020
100
13.32universal public insurance system7.32
2Madrid,
Spain
Remote relocation available
46,719,14275.39336016
100
10.71universal government-funded6.49
3Oslo,
Norway
Remote relocation available
551,13774.83510013
94
3.05universal government-funded7.39
4Berlin,
Germany
Remote relocation available
83,883,59673.69307014
100
11.65universal public insurance system7.16
5Paris,
France
Remote relocation available
65,584,51871.36365016
90
12.23universal public insurance system6.69
6Warsaw,
Poland
37,739,78570.48337020
100
9.57universal public insurance system6.17
7Ljubljana,
Slovenia
2,078,03470.4338015
100
8universal public insurance system6.46
8Reykjavik,
Iceland
345,39370.173810013
68
0universal government-funded7.55
9Rome,
Italy
6,026,27768.88325021.7
80
7.79universal government-funded6.48
10Copenhagen,
Denmark
Remote relocation available
583,49568.743610018
53
0universal government-funded7.62
1

Luxembourg

Overall index score: 83.47

Luxembourg ranks #1 on our life-work balance index. The country performs well across all key metrics, particularly regarding statutory maternity leave (100% of the employee’s wage for 20 weeks) and statutory annual leave (37 days). With a happiness score of 7.32, Luxembourg is also one of the most content nations in Europe.

Famous for being the second-richest country in the world, Luxembourg is an economic powerhouse that is keenly aware of the importance of a good work-life balance. Move here and you’ll experience award-winning wines, unique cuisine (such as gromperekichelcher), and an attitude to work that puts you and the needs of your family first.

2

Spain

Overall index score: 75.39

Spain has a strong business culture geared towards putting home life before work when it counts. The nation has a universal government-funded healthcare system, as well as a significant minimum wage (the equivalent of $10.71/hr). This is particularly impressive given that Spain has a far larger population compared to other countries in the top 10. 

Home of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and delightful tapas, Spain is an artful country that rewards the creative spirit. The nation has the world’s 14th largest economy by nominal GDP, as well as booming energy and tourism industries to ply your trade. Madrid also ranked second in our Best Destinations for Remote Work guide, suggesting that second really is the best for Spain!

3

Norway

Overall index score: 74.80

Norway values a strong work-life (or life-work, as the case ought to be) balance. Norway’s culture is enshrined within its employment laws, and long working weeks are rare across all industries. The country does not have a standard minimum wage like many other European nations. Instead, Norway has a collective agreement among nine key industries that cover 70% of workers.

With a happiness score of 7.39, Norway has one of the most content populations inside our top 10. The country also has a renowned universal government-funded healthcare system, with health expenditure per head higher than most other countries. 

4

Germany

Overall index score: 73.69

Germany has the largest population within our top 10 (83.8 million), which serves to showcase the impressiveness of its commitment to nurturing a strong life-work balance. 

This nation provides workers with 30 days of statutory annual leave and 14 weeks of statutory maternity leave (at 100% of wages). If you’re sick, companies are required to pay 70% of your wage during your absence. Plus, Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates within the EU.

5

France

Overall index score: 71.36

Like Germany, France is one of the larger European nations to make our top ten. A generous statutory annual leave allowance of 36 days, as well as a high minimum wage, are key factors in this nation's ranking.

In 2017, the French government passed a law known as the right to disconnect. This law requires companies with more than 50 workers to create a charter of good conduct: a document stopping workers from answering emails outside of hours, a strong move for supporting a healthy life-work balance!

6

Poland

Overall index score: 70.48

Poland arguably provides the most generous statutory maternity leave in our top 10. The nation allocates parents 20 weeks of leave at 100% of their wage. As for annual leave? Workers receive a minimum 33 days to spend as they wish.

Living in Poland has many upsides. The cost of living tends to be relatively inexpensive when compared to other European nations, with the cost of general goods, transport, and rent being rather favorable. Traditional Polish foods are also a staple of the country, with kotlet schabowy and golabki being a few of many regional favorites.

7

Slovenia

Overall index score: 70.40

Slovenia is making great strides in developing a strong culture around life-work balance. Though the country prescribes a relatively long 40-hour workweek compared to other European nations, Slovenia offers good statutory leave in return: 33 days of annual leave and 15 weeks of maternity leave on full pay.

While work flexibility is not regulated by law, Slovenia operates via collective agreements at a company level. The result? A majority of full-time workers and employees enjoy the ability to start and end their day according to personal requirements.

8

Iceland

Overall index score: 70.17

When it comes to statutory annual leave, Iceland is unmatched in our top 10: they offer a generous 38 days paid leave. With a happiness index score of 7.55, Iceland is also one of the happiest nations in the world.

The Nordic nation boasts a universal government-funded healthcare system, which receives a healthcare rating of 1 according to our study. This puts its healthcare system among some of the most proficient on the continent.

Choose to make the switch to Iceland and you’ll experience a strong work-life balance engrained in the nation's culture. Much of Iceland is shut down through July, when you can experience the best weather with your friends and family. There are also 16 public holidays.

9

Italy

Overall index score: 68.88

Italy protects workers looking to start a family by offering strong statutory maternity leave (21.7 weeks at 80% of your base salary). On top of that, Italy has a universal government-funded healthcare system known as Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). 

You also receive 32 days of statutory annual leave. Consider spending some of that time off enjoying Italy’s world-famous cuisine.

10

Denmark

Overall index score: 68.74

Denmark is the happiest nation in our top 10, with a happiness index score of 7.62 (second overall behind Finland). Workers also receive 36 days statutory annual leave on full pay, as well as 18 weeks of paid maternity leave (53% of base salary). 

Work-life balance is a cornerstone of Danish culture. The Scandinavian nation has a high taxation rate that serves to fuel a strong welfare society, benefitting its citizens through free education and healthcare, as well as a smooth public transport system and sprawling recreational facilities.

What is life-work balance (and its impact on your personal life)?

Life-work balance is a culture of work that understands the importance of family commitments as well as your own wellbeing. In a country that practices a good work-life balance, your time should be flexible and not dictated by employment. You should have enough time to look after yourself and those close to you, as well as sleeping properly, exercising and eating a well-balanced diet. By putting the life ahead of the work, we hope to reframe how the world holds conversations about how we spend our time.

Personal care and family life come first. The pressures of work can often make us oblivious to this fact. A good life-work balance will see you meet deadlines and excel in your role without having to work long hours that negatively impact personal health.

However, many employees work long hours and enjoy little time of their own. In the United Kingdom, for example, the average worker puts in 10.1 hours of overtime per week, 59% of which is unpaid. In total, 61% of people feel they have a poor work-life balance.

Poor work-life balance can result in a host of consequences for physical and emotional health, not to mention one's social life. The ability to combine work with other responsibilities and needs successfully is critical to reap the benefits of remote work in personal life.

Nations and businesses that confirm work-life balance as policy can quickly improve the overall quality of life for employees. As a bonus, people tend to be more engaged with their work and see an increase in productivity. Physical health improves too, with fewer cases of absence and illness.

Here at Remote, we want to champion countries, companies and organizations that prioritize providing their employees with the best possible life-work balance, so that together, we can all access a fulfilling career. If you’re looking to relocate or explore working in a different country, see how we can help with our employer of record services today.

Remote
Relocation

Relocating to another country is incredibly exciting — that is until you get to the nitty gritty details of what it takes to make the move happen. But don’t worry, we've created a program specifically for you and your employees to make the process seamless.

Empower employees to work where they feel best

Work from anywhere in the world

Remote work means working from anywhere, not just working from home. Select a place to relocate your employee from the list of countries shown below and leave the rest to us!

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

Argentina

Capital: Buenos Aires

Currency: Argentine peso ($, ARS)

Official Languages: Spanish

Belguim

Capital: Brussels

Currency: EURO (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch, French, German

Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Currency: Bulgarian lev (лв., BGN)

Official Languages: Bulgarian

Croatia

Capital: Zagreb

Currency: Croatian kuna (kn, HRK)

Official Languages: Croatian

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Currency: Czech koruna (Kč, CZK)

Official Languages: Czech

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Currency: Danish krone (kr., DKK)

Official Languages: Danish

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish

France

Capital: Paris

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: French

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: German

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg City

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Luxembourgish, German, French

Mauritius

Coming Soon

Capital: Port Louis

Currency: Mauritian rupee (¢, MUR)

Official Languages: Mauritian Creole, French, English

Mexico

Capital: Mexico City

Currency: Mexican peso ($, MXN)

Official Languages: Spanish

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Dutch (official language), Frisian (official language in Frisia)

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Currency: Norwegian krone (kr, NOK)

Official Languages: Norwegian

Panama

Capital: Panama City

Currency: Panamanian balboa (B/., PAB)

Official Languages: Spanish

Peru

Capital: Lima

Currency: Peruvian sol (S/., PEN)

Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Currency: Euro (€, EUR)

Official Languages: Portuguese

South Africa

Capital: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative)

Currency: South African Rand (R, ZAR)

Official Languages: English and 10 others

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Currency: Euro(€, EUR)

Official Languages: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Currency: Swedish krona (kr, SEK)

Official Languages: Swedish

What relocation assistance means for your business

Are we making work from anywhere sound easy? That's because it can be. We have the services to help you relocate to where you want and make the entire process as seamless as possible!

  • Visa
    guidance and
    sponsorship

  • Local
    immigration and
    tax guidance

  • Relocation and
    settling-in
    assistance

  • Insurance

  • Cross-cultural
    training

Download your Remote Relocation Guide

Learn how to simplify your planned relocation with this walkthrough guide. We outline the key steps for you and your employer to enable a compliant, efficient, and hassle-free move.

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Methodology

Employer of record specialists, Remote, conducted this index data analysis to reveal which European countries offer employees the best life-work balance.

The study came to its conclusions by reviewing the following key indicators:

  • Statutory annual leave (total days of paid leave, including public holidays)*
  • Minimum statutory sick pay (percent or wage of flat amount)
  • Statutory maternity leave (number of weeks paid)
  • Statutory maternity leave payment rate (percent of wage)
  • Minimum wage (USD per hour)*
  • Healthcare status
  • Happiness index score (ranked on a scale of 1-10)

The goal of this study is to represent each country’s life-work balance accurately, reimagining the popular phrase work-life balance to showcase how businesses in each European nation are looking to put life before work.

The metrics were adjusted with index weights to reflect relative importance, providing each country with an overall score out of 100. All data points are ranked from highest to lowest aside from healthcare, which is ranked out of five (with 1 being the best).

(*) When a range was offered for a country’s statutory annual leave and minimum wage, the minimum amount was listed.

The data was collected and analyzed in March 2022.

See how easy global relocation can be and find a better life-work balance