(This article was last updated on Jan. 26, 2023.)
What are the best countries for quality of life, as determined by US News and World Report? Read this article to find out.
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Table of Contents
The US News and World Report is an American digital media company that was established in 1933. It is well known for providing information related to the news, rankings, and pieces of expert advice.
A list of the top countries in the world to reside in has been ranked by US News & World Report for the seventh year now. The list included the top 85 nations in the world based on public opinion in 2022.
Seventeen thousand people from all over the world participated in the survey, which was carried out in collaboration with the BAV Group and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The results of the survey were used to rank countries based on 76 different criteria.
The annual country survey was carried out to ascertain the quality of life through a number of aspects, including but not limited to education, finances, GDP, gender equality, health, purchasing power, and security.
With this, let’s take a look at what countries made it to the top 10 of the list in 2023, based on the said 2022 survey.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #1 Sweden
In 2023, Sweden is the nation that can be considered to have the best quality of life overall. In terms of the ranking for quality of life, the nation excels in many categories, including well-developed public education and medical care systems, strong and reliable security, and political and economic steadiness.
In fact, the country’s government ranks as the top country that is least corrupt across the world.
In addition, Sweden has a solid commitment to issues of environmental preservation, respect for human rights, equitable distribution of wealth, and access to higher education.
It is a lovely country, with spectacular scenery, incredible cities, different opportunities to unwind and visit cultural and geographic attractions, as well as a remarkably educated citizenry with a high social purpose.
The country’s GDP per capita is 54,146 US dollars (USD) in January 2023. Meanwhile, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 33,730 USD per annum. Seventy-five percent of individuals who are 15 to 64 years old have a paid job.
Sweden also implements compulsory schooling of at least 10 years for children who turn six years old. The public education system is of high quality, and studying in these institutions is free of charge.
The country has a well-developed universal healthcare system. Life expectancy in Sweden is approximately 83 years, which is higher than the average life expectancy across all OECD countries at 81 years.
How much tax is charged in Sweden?
In 2023, residents are charged a municipal tax on personal income of 32% plus a national income tax of 20% for those whose income from employment are more than 613,900 Swedish kronor, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Those who are not residents of Sweden but work in the country for either a Swedish company or an employer from another country who has a legal structure in Sweden are subject to a flat tax rate at source of 25%. A pension paid from a Swedish source to an individual who is not a tax-resident in the country is also levied at the same rate.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #2 Denmark
The quality of life in Denmark, which is in northern Europe, is considered to be the second best in the world. The ranking of Denmark is affected by a variety of factors, including its level of income equality, political consistency, level of safety, and the quality of its public education and healthcare systems.
The Danish government has a strong reputation for being reliable, open to scrutiny, transparent, and being one of the least corrupt globally.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, and the members of Folketing, the country’s highest legislative branch, are elected by the general population. The government of Denmark is forward-thinking, and the nation’s social system allows for a commendable amount of social mobility.
The country has implemented a universal health care system, and all of its citizens are eligible to get free medical care as a result of the progressive taxation system. The cost of higher education is also covered.
The production of food, iron, steel, and machinery, as well as tourism, are just some of Denmark’s leading industries. The country’s primary exports include things like agricultural and industrial machines and equipment, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, and furniture.
Worldometer said Denmark has a population of more than 5.8 million people (as of the time of update). Its most recent GDP per capita stands at 58,932 USD and its average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 33,774 USD per annum.
Seventy-four percent of individuals from 15 to 64 years old have a paid job. Employees are well-skilled with the necessary competencies given the high level of quality of its public education system.
Environmental conditions in the country are safe and livable. Citizens have a high social purpose.
What about taxes in Denmark?
Unless the individual is considered to be tax resident in another country due to a double taxation treaty, individuals who have their primary residence in Denmark are subject to full tax liability, which means they are liable to pay tax on all of their income, regardless of where it was earned, even if it was earned in another country.
According to PwC, a person who is deemed a fully tax resident in the country will, as a general rule, be taxed in accordance with the ordinary tax scheme at a rate of up to 52.07% in 2022.
A person who has only a limited obligation to pay taxes in Denmark will also be subject to a tax rate of up to 52.07% on income derived from sources within Denmark.
Foreign nationals with an employment in the country and scientists who have been assigned to it may be eligible to seek a 27% flat tax rate on their gross salary for a period of up to seven years. This tax rate will apply for as long as the special expat tax regime is in effect.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #3 Canada
One of the nations with the lowest crime rates is Canada. The average Canadian is a healthy person who does not suffer from any dangerous or contagious diseases.
The industrial and technological society of Canada is very advanced. Although the service sector is the most significant contributor to Canada’s economy, the country also ships a significant amount of food, energy, and minerals out of its territory.
The production of oil in Canada ranks it as the world’s fourth-highest overall, based on the most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The prosperity of the Canadian economy has allowed the country’s population to enjoy an exceptionally high standard of living.
Canada ranks among the best countries in terms of the majority of indicators that measure environmental quality. Men and women are deemed to be legally equal by the country’s constitution, and human rights legislations on both the provincial and federal level protect individuals from being subjected to gender discrimination in the workplace by the public sector and private companies.
The federal government also does not discriminate on the basis of gender when it comes to marriage, divorce, or military service.
Canada, which is the second largest country in the world, is home to over 37 million people. It has a gross domestic product per capita of 48,720 USD, while the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 34,421 USD per annum.
Seventy percent of individuals belonging to the 15-64-year-old age group have a paid job, and the country’s labor force is well-equipped to meet the demands of the workplace. This comes as no surprise because of the competitive and well-developed public education system in the country.
The country has a universal healthcare system that is publicly funded. This ensures that citizens are socially protected from medical expenses.
Citizens have access to a variety of cultural and geographic attractions and are generally satisfied with their lives. Lastly, the government of Canada is considered politically stable and low on corruption.
How much is the tax in Canada?
The Canadian government collects income tax from residents of Canada on their earnings from anywhere in the world. Individuals who are not residents are required to pay taxes on their income if they earn money in the country through employment, the operation of a business, or capital gains realized from the sale of taxable Canadian real estate, PwC said.
The tax rate can be a minimum of 15% and up to 33%, depending on taxable income.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #4 Switzerland
The Swiss Confederation, more commonly known as Switzerland, most recently has a population of more than 8.6 million people. It has a GDP per capita of $72,874, as well as an average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita of $39,697 per year.
The ranking of Switzerland as one of the best countries for quality of life is ensured by a number of factors, including the strength of its economy, the consistency of its government, and the sophistication of its public education system.
The public education system in the country is consistently regarded as one of the best. Eighty percent of individuals belonging to the 25-64 age group has a paid job. The nation’s workforce is educated and skilled, contributing to the country’s low unemployment rate. Among those in the workforce, nearly no one works long hours.
Switzerland has a highly decentralized universal health care system, which is also considered one of the top ones in the world.
The country’s exceptional service sector with remarkable performance in financial sectors as well as its robust high-tech manufacturing sector are the primary engines driving the economy. Its federal republic government is stable, efficient, and one of the least corrupt globally.
As a direct consequence of these, residing in Switzerland becomes an extremely attractive option for people who are contemplating moving to Europe. The country also remains attractive to foreign nationals for its geographic attractions and its trustworthy citizens.
What about taxes?
Every individual who is considered to be a tax resident is subject to taxation on their income and assets from all over the world. Individuals who do not have a tax residence in Switzerland are only subject to taxation on their income and wealth derived from Swiss sources.
Income taxes are collected at three distinct levels, namely the federal, the cantonal, and the municipal level. The federal government, as well as the majority of cantons, have adopted progressive tax rates for the personal income tax. Recently, a number of cantons have moved to tax residents at a single, uniform rate.
The federal tax on a single taxpayer can be a minimum of 0.77% and a maximum of 11.5% based on income. Any personal earnings under 14,800 Swiss francs will not be charged a levy. Meanwhile, taxpayers who are married get levied between 1% and 11.5%. Any income under 28,800 francs is not taxable.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #5 Norway
The overall ranking of Norway in US News’ survey puts it in fifth place. Security, political consistency, and a highly developed public education system in Norway make it a standout in the rankings.
The nation enjoys a high standard of living because it is one of the world’s largest oil producers, it does not charge tuition for higher education, and it has a rich literary history. The nation also has a reputation as one of the top places to make a home due to its status as among the most developed globally.
Policies that stand out in Norway, like those pertaining to maternity leave and gender equality, contribute to why the country is an excellent place to work in Europe. Furthermore, Norway has a low rate of unemployment and offers competitive salaries especially for those who hold advanced degrees.
This country in northern Europe is most recently home to more than 5.4 million people. It has a GDP per capita of 65,800 USD. In addition to this, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 39,144 USD per year.
With a well-developed public education system, 75% of the population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. Moreover, the universal health system in the country offers high-quality, comprehensive, and innovative care to citizens.
There are also many breathtaking scenery and geographic attractions that are unique to Norway. Citizens have a high social purpose, especially when it comes to achieving climate goals. The country has a parliamentary constitutional monarchy government that is stable, fair, and amongst the least corrupt in the world.
How much tax is charged in Norway?
Tax law in Norway makes a distinction between the level of tax liability that applies to taxpayers who live in Norway and that which applies to taxpayers who do not live in Norway. Residents are charged a tax on all of their income, no matter where it comes from, while non-resident taxpayers are only levied on certain types of income derived from Norwegian sources.
The country in 2019 rolled out a PAYE scheme for employed non-residents with limited tax liability, who earn below 643,800 Norwegian kroner as of 2022, subject to certain exclusions, according to PwC. The tax imposed is a flat rate of 25%.
Norway implements a dual tax scheme in the form of general income and personal income.
The base for the general income tax takes into account all types of taxable income, including those derived from employment, businesses, and investments. On the other hand, the personal income tax base is comprised primarily of pensions, income from sole proprietorships and partnerships, as well as income from employment, which is inclusive of in-kind benefits.
The tax on general income is a flat rate of 22%, while there’s a tax bracket for personal income which can be 1.7%, 4%, 13.4%, 16.4%, or 17.4%.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #6 Finland
In the rankings, Finland comes out among the top thanks to its high level of public safety, its well-established and extensive education system, and its appeal to families.
The nation is widely recognized as an educational pioneer on the international stage. Additionally, Finland performs very well in terms of civil rights, quality of life, and freedom of the press. In addition to this, the country was one of the earliest countries in the world to grant voting rights to women.
The economy of Finland is based on free market principles, and the nation, along with its other Nordic neighbors, makes substantial investments in social security systems and public services.
Finland currently has a population of more than 5.5 million people and a GDP per capita of 49,853 USD. The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 33,471 USD per year. Seventy-two percent of individuals between the ages of 15 to 64 have a paid job. The country has a well-developed public education system, which is considered the best in the world.
Its public healthcare system remains competitive. Because of this, citizens are provided with accessible, affordable, and high-quality care. Environmental conditions are not neglected too. Citizens have a high social purpose, especially in relation to trustworthiness, human rights, and commitment to social justice.
The parliamentary republic government of Finland is transparent and not bureaucratic, and is among the least corrupt across the world. Apart from that, Finland remains as the happiest country in the world, according to the currently available World Happiness Report from 2022.
What about taxes in Finland?
Residents of Finland are subject to taxation on their total income. For purposes of the national and municipal tax systems, residents’ earned income are subject to progressive and flat tax rates, respectively.
The national tax rate can be a minimum of 6% or up to 31.25%, based on income. Any earnings under 19,200 euros will not be levied. Meanwhile, the tax rates for income generated from capital investments range between 30% and 34%.
Depending on the municipality, the standard rate of the municipal tax ranges from 16.50% to 23.50%.
Only income derived from Finnish sources is subject to taxation for a person who is not deemed a resident in the country. The tax rate on income earned through employment is 35%, and the tax rate on dividends, interest, and royalties is 30%, except for when a lower rate is outlined in a tax agreement.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #7 Germany
Germany, which currently holds the seventh spot overall on this list, is among the most powerful economic powers globally. The nation has public education and medical care systems that are quite advanced, a labor force that is both well-trained and diverse, as well as thriving industries in the areas of tourism, healthcare, and telecoms.
In addition to being a global leader in both imports and exports, Germany is also the country of origin for a great number of important historical and cultural symbols.
Germany is currently home to more than 83.7 million people. The country is currently faced with an aging population that comes with its own challenges. Despite this, it still has one of the largest and strongest economies in the world.
Germany has a GDP per capita of 54,076 USD, while the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 38,971 USD per year. With a well-developed public education system, most are educated, and 77% of individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job.
The country has a universal public healthcare system that is considered one of the best in the world. The federal, democratic republican government of Germany is stable and one of the least corrupt on a global scale.
What are the tax rates in Germany?
All residents are subject to taxation based on all of their income, no matter where it comes from. On the other hand, only income derived in Germany is taxable for individuals who do not have a permanent residence in Germany.
Taxes on personal income in Germany are assessed at progressive rates beginning at 14% and up to 42%.
In Germany, there is neither a local nor a state income tax that is levied.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #8 Netherlands
The Netherlands, which can be found in western Europe, finished in eighth place overall in US News’ 2022 survey.
The nation is distinguished in the rankings by its high level of political stability as well as its advanced public health and education systems. It is well-known for its tolerant society and was the first country in the world to make marriage between people of the same gender legal.
The Netherlands has a population of more than 17.1 million people. Seventy-eight percent of individuals in the 15–64 age group are working in a paid job. Wages are satisfactory in the nation, which offers solid security as a whole.
The country has a GDP per capita of 57,534 USD, while the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 34,984 USD per year.
The public transportation system in the Netherlands is very effective, but it encourages people to be more physically active with 35,000 kilometers of cycle paths available.
Furthermore, it has a universal public healthcare system that is responsive to the needs of the population. Citizens have a high social purpose, especially when it comes to religious freedom, human rights, and trustworthiness. The constitutional monarchy government of the Netherlands is transparent, reliable, and among the least corrupt globally.
What about taxes in the Netherlands?
The residents of the Netherlands are subject to taxation on all of their income, while non-residents are only taxed on income that comes from certain sources within the Netherlands.
Personal income tax from employment and ownership of a home can be taxed 9.28% or 36.93%. Moreover, income from a significant interest and from savings and investments are charged a flat tax rate of 26.9% and 32%, respectively.
PwC said that by 2024, the tax rate on significant interest will be modified by the addition of two new brackets, which will be as follows: a 24.5% standard rate for the first 67,000 euros in income per individual, as well as a 31% rate for the remaining portion of the income.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #9 Australia
Australia is a wealthy nation with a free market economy. Life expectancy is high in Australia, and the country’s citizens take great pride in their participation in a wide variety of sporting activities.
Australia in the present is home to about 25.5 million people. It has a GDP per capita of 51,680 USD and an average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita of 37,433 USD per year.
Given its well-developed public education system, 73% of individuals who are 15–64 years old have a paid job. The exceptional level of education that can be found in Australia is renowned all over the world.
The country has a universal public healthcare system that provides affordable and accessible services. Air quality is not detrimental to the population’s health.
Citizens have a high social purpose, especially in terms of animal rights, human rights, and religious freedom. There are different geographic attractions in the country with a friendly and fun atmosphere. Its government is stable, transparent, and ranks as the second least corrupt overall.
How do tax rates look like in Australia?
A person who is considered to be a resident of Australia is charged a levy on his or her global income, which means that income earned from both within Australia and outside of the country is taxable.
Except for interest, royalties, and dividends, which are typically subject to withholding tax, a person who is not a resident of Australia is only charged a levy on income that is earned from sources within the country.
Personal income tax for residents can be a minimum of 19% and can go as high as 45%. An income of 18,200 AUD and below are not taxable. Majority of residents are also charged an additional 2% levy for Medicare.
Non-resident individuals are charged a minimum rate of 32.5% and a maximum rate of 45%. There is no non-taxable bracket for non-residents.
The tax rates mentioned are effective until June 30, 2024, according to PwC.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: #10 New Zealand
The high standard of living in New Zealand have earned it a reputation as one of the most desirable places to live in the world, especially for those looking for a slow-paced lifestyle.
If you are a citizen of New Zealand, a permanent resident of the country, or possess a work visa that is valid for at least two years, you are eligible for free or heavily subsidized access to the country’s public healthcare system, according to the government.
Even if you only have a visitor’s visa, there is still a possibility that you will be able to take advantage of a wide range of services if certain conditions are met.
New Zealand currently has a population of more than 4.8 million people and a GDP per capita of 42,018 USD. In terms of employment, 77% of individuals from 15 to 64 years old have a paid job, and the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 39,024 USD per annum.
The work ethic of New Zealanders is well known, but they also place a high value on having a balanced life outside of work.
The country has a well-developed public education system that is diverse and excellent in terms of quality.
Citizens have a high social purpose, especially when it comes to the environment, animal rights, and climate goals. With its many geographic attractions, captivating scenery, and welcoming locals, the country remains favored in terms of tourism.
Beaches, bike trails, and national parks are never too far away, even within the country’s largest cities.
The government of New Zealand is stable, transparent, not bureaucratic, and among the least corrupt across the world. This provides a safe and livable country for its citizens.
What about taxes in New Zealand?
A New Zealand resident is required to pay tax on all of their income, regardless of where it was earned. Only the portion of an individual’s income that comes from New Zealand-based sources is taxable if they are considered a non-resident.
Tax rates on personal income starts at 10.5% and can reach as high as 39.
Best Countries for Quality of Life: Final Thoughts
With this, we have listed the 10 best countries for quality of life. If you are deciding to move abroad, then you should seriously consider any of the ones mentioned above and engage a financial planner to help you with your finances.
They offer a wide range of educational and career opportunities, which can help you develop the necessary skills, gain experience, and earn sufficiently. Not only that, you can live comfortably and safely.
Lastly, with a stable political, economic, and social environment, you can become the best and happiest version of yourself too.
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