The reality of expat life is that some countries are far better for families than others. Factors such as the quality and cost of education, activities for children outside of school and family well-being are all worthy considerations for expats moving abroad with children.
Fortunately, thanks to a study by InterNations, we’re now able to glean some insights into the best expat destinations for families.
The recently-published study covers a total of 41 countries, with responses from a minimum of 30 expats in each location. With such a large dataset the results make for some fascinating reading.
Austria takes the crown for the best location for families, with top scores for both education and childcare. The education system in Austria was ranked by respondents as almost 30% better than the global average seen; quite a result for the Austrian educational system. The only real weakness revealed by the study is Austria’s relatively unfriendly nature towards foreigners.
Winning second place comes Finland, with 92% of survey respondents giving education in Finland a positive rating. Finland also ranks highly in terms of both the cost and availability of childcare for expat children. As with Austria, the lowest ranking metric was friendliness, which ranks 3% below the global average.
Third place goes to last year’s winner; Sweden. A larger survey size found that attitudes towards the quality of education has declined; though whether this is a real-world change to schooling, or simply attitudes toward it, remain unclear. Sweden also saw declines for the family well-being score.
Perhaps more interestingly is the fourth best expat destination for expat families; this year’s winner is Israel. The country scores highly for both family well-being and the availability of childcare.
It is interesting to contrast these findings to last year’s survey. Here Austria ranked at number four and Sweden at number one. Due to a low number of respondents Finland did not feature in last year’s survey.
Instead, the top three results from 2014 see Denmark coming in at position two (after Sweden at one) and France third.
The real message here seems to be how family-friendly Scandinavia seems to be for expats, with Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark all scoring reliably highly.
Sadly this year neither the UK nor the USA managed to make it into the overall top twenty countries reported on. America’s top score was seen in the availability of childcare and education, whilst the UK ranks most highly for the quality of education.
It is important to mention that the InterNations study only ranks countries where the number of responses pass their threshold. As a result just because a country isn’t featured doesn’t necessarily mean that it offers a bad experience to families; it may simply mean that there weren’t enough responses this year to make an entry into the ranking tables.