The Best Countries to Live in 2024

There can be many motivations to move abroad. Looking for better job opportunities, a different way of life, or even just a higher standard of living, when it comes to choosing the best place to live, there is a lot to consider.

Of course, “best” can be subjective. To find inspiration, we looked at the latest World Happiness Report which ranks countries based on what residents themselves feel about living there. Analysing the top 10, there are several nations that stood out thanks to the excellent living conditions, economic stability, and safe and welcoming environment. Below, we investigate these countries and compare them based on various factors to find which one is truly the best country to live in 2024.

Which are the best countries to live in 2024?

Below are the rankings from the World Happiness Report 2024, ranked according to the self-assessed life evaluations of individuals living there between 2021 and 2023.

RankCountryWorld Happiness Score 2024


Finland has topped the World Happiness Report rankings every year since 2018. Finland offers residents a fantastic quality of life, with a clean environment, high standards of living, and beautiful, accessible nature.

The country has a strong welfare system that supports its citizens with a range of services, including great universal public healthcare, and parental and family benefits. Whilst high taxation is needed to fund these services, residents benefit from excellent infrastructure, such as public transport and well-maintained roads.


Iceland ranks third on the World Happiness Report and is a consistent feature of best country to live rankings. Iceland has a relatively small population of around 370,000 people, the smallest of these top ten countries.

Like the other Nordic countries here, Iceland is praised for its generous welfare system and excellent public services, including healthcare, education, and transport. The country has a strong economy and rich culture, with a strong focus on the environment. Not only is there a thriving outdoor activity culture, with plenty of opportunities for residents to hike, climb, and enjoy nature, but Iceland is also a leader in sustainable energy. Nearly the whole country is powered by renewable energy sources, namely hydroelectric and geothermal energy.


The Netherlands is another country that often ranks highly on listings of the best countries to live. Whilst it comes in sixth on the World Happiness Report 2024, on the CEOWORLD magazine 2024 report of best places to live in the world, it come first.  

The Netherlands is often celebrated for having a culture that favours a healthy work life balance, with defined boundaries between working hours and personal time, and flexible working policies to support ample leisure time and family commitments. The Dutch people are known to be warm and friendly, and value community and connection with others.


Switzerland comes in ninth on the World Happiness Report, but on the latest Human Development Report (2021/22), it came top. People in Switzerland consistently report a high standard of living and quality of life. Job opportunities and income are often cited as factors that contribute to Switzerland being one of the best countries to live. It has a relatively low unemployment rate at 2.25%, below the world average of 5.1%.

Switzerland also has fantastic healthcare and one of the longest life expectancies in the world, at 83.9 years. Whilst it is compulsory for expats to take out international healthcare insurance within three months of moving to Switzerland, this allows people to access quality healthcare facilities and professionals.  


Australia ranks 10th on the World Happiness Report and is one of only two countries in the top 10 that aren’t European. It also has the highest population of the top ten best countries to live in the world, with nearly 29 million people.

Australia is a popular expat destination. Although it has strict entry requirements and visa regulations, residents who are able to live there enjoy a high standard of living. The climate and natural beauty are some of the draws, allowing people to get outside and enjoy nature and outdoor activities. The Australian people are generally relaxed and welcoming, and people enjoy a laidback lifestyle.   

Comparing the best countries to live in 2024

There are many different factors that contribute to making a destination one of the best countries to live in the world. Below, we drill into our top ten countries, looking at various areas to see which locations come out top.

Average salaries in the best countries to live

Using data from OCED, below are the average annual wages of our top ten best countries to live:

Best Countries Salaries RankCountryAverage Annual Wage (USD)Global Salaries Rank

Iceland has the highest annual wage at $79,743. Interestingly, it also has one of the highest rates of tax on personal income – coming third in the world after Denmark and New Zealand. It seems as though paying receiving high wages whilst paying high taxes could be a fair trade, especially when you consider the quality public services and infrastructure provided in Iceland.  

Cost of living in the best countries to live

Using Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, below are our best countries to live ranked by the cost of living, from lowest to highest:

Best Countries Cost of Living RankCountryCost of Living IndexGlobal Cost of Living Rank

Out of the 146 countries on the Cost of Living Index, all 10 of our best countries to live ranked in the bottom 110. The “cheapest” place to live from our list is Sweden, with a Cost of Living Index score of 62.2 – a long way from Pakistan, which has the lowest score on the overall list of 18.5.

This implies living in the best countries in the world doesn’t come cheap. This idea does seem to make sense – for better facilities, better infrastructure, and higher standards of living, money will be required. Fortunately, the countries with higher costs of living also, mostly, offer higher wages, so residents can afford to maintain a good quality of life.

Safety and security in the best countries to live

Using data from the latest Global Peace Index, below are our best countries to live ranked by safety:

Best Countries Safety RankCountryGlobal Peace IndexGlobal Safety Rank
Luxembourgno datano data

Iceland scores the highest for safety and security, not only on our list of best countries to live 2024 but also on the overall world ranking on the Global Peace Index. In fact, Iceland has ranked top of the Global Peace Index since the index began. Iceland has a very low crime rate and very low risk of terrorism – this year was the first time the country recorded any terrorist activity. All types of crime, from theft and vandalism to more serious crimes like homicide are rare. The country is so safe, it doesn’t have a military, the only NATO member that doesn’t.

The one area of Iceland that could be deemed unsafe is with regards to the weather. The weather in Iceland can change quickly and can be severe and extreme. High winds, heavy rain, and snow storms can all occur with little warning, so residents have to ensure they are prepared whenever they leave the home. Iceland also has active volcanoes, so it’s imperative that residents pay attention to warnings and follow safety advice to avoid danger.

Healthcare in the best countries to live

Using the Health data from the Legatum Prosperity Index, below are our best countries to live ranked by how healthy residents are:

Best Countries Health RankCountryHealth ScoreGlobal Health Rank

Five of the countries on our best places to live feature in the top 10 world rankings for health. Israel scores highest and is well-known for the quality healthcare it provides. Israeli citizens and permanent residents are able to sign up to a Kupat Cholim, the public healthcare companies, so they can access public healthcare. Standard healthcare services in Israel include diagnosis and treatments, surgery, hospital stays, mental healthcare and IVF treatments.

Freedom and equality in the best countries to live

Using the latest Human Freedom Index, which analyses the personal freedom and economic freedom citizens have in a country, we’ve ranked our best countries by how free the people are:

Best Countries Freedom RankCountryHuman Freedom IndexGlobal Freedom Rank

Freedom is arguably one of the most important factors when it comes to living well. Freedom of expression, freedom to have relationships, freedom of religion, movement, and assembly, plus economic freedom can all contribute to a high quality of life. So, it’s unsurprising to see that 9 out of 10 of our best countries to live in 2024 feature in the top 14 on the Human Freedom Index.

Switzerland ranks highest on our list and also overall globally. Switzerland has long had a connection to human rights – the Red Cross was established in Switzerland, it’s home to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and it’s where the Geneva Convention was codified. There is a focus on mutual respect and equality amongst its people, and human rights are enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution.

Whilst there is still room for improvement – some minority groups sometimes face discrimination, the gender pay gap is high at 19%, and transphobic discrimination is not yet a criminal offence – generally, Switzerland is working towards becoming an equal place for all.  

Environment in the best countries to live

Using the latest Environmental Performance Index, below are our best countries ranked by how environmentally friendly and sustainable they are:

Best Countries Environment RankCountryEnvironmental Performance IndexGlobal Environment Rank

Denmark ranks highest for environmental performance out of our 10 best countries to live and also globally. There are many reasons why Denmark performs so well, including a focus on low-impact transportation. Cycling is one of the primary forms of transportation in the country, and there are more bikes than cars in Copenhagen, the country’s capital. Denmark has also made large investments in sustainable energy, resulting in a number of environmentally-friendly developments and innovations – 67% of energy in the country comes from renewable sources.

Interestingly, nearly all of the best countries to live in 2024 feature in the top 20 countries on the Environmental Performance Index. This could suggest that there is a relationship between having a high standard of living and a clean, diverse environment, with good air and water quality and low pollution.

Will you be moving to one of the best countries?

If you’ve been inspired to move abroad to one of these countries, make sure you’re covered with international medical insurance. Expatriate Group is an expert in international healthcare, giving individuals and families living and working abroad the safety and security they need to live well.

You can get an international health insurance quote, view our health insurance plans, or contact us for more information.  

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