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Best countries for expat work life balance 

03 March 2022

Finding the right balance between our home life and career has become increasingly difficult. In 2019 countries including Columbia, Turkey, Japan and the US were shown to have some of the worst work life balance in the world. 

Work life balance is the equilibrium between our professional and personal lives. The lines between work and home life have become more blurred over the last half century as technology removed the need for us to be physically located at work. 


The switch to remote, home and hybrid working during the global pandemic has not remedied the situation. More than half of US employees said they have worked more hours while working from home during the pandemic and it’s had an impact on their wellbeing. About half of the US workforce have struggled with workplace stress and one quarter have reported feeling close to burn out in the past.

If you are considering a move overseas, we’re taking a look at five countries with great work life balance where you can expect:

  • To have more holidays from work
  • To have benefits like maternity and paternity leave
  • To have more time to spend with friends and family
  • To have more time for hobbies and volunteer work you enjoy

Average working week: 37 hours

Paid holiday time: 5 weeks 

The Danes pride themselves on being efficient workers, working hard but within their allotted hours every day. They are the second most productive employees in Europe. Having a good balance between work and life is important in Denmark and employers respect that. Family life is important in Denmark too with the women receiving 14 weeks paid time off work after giving birth, and their partner receiving two weeks. After this the parents can divide 32 weeks of paid leave between them so both have an opportunity to bond with their child. 

Average working week: 36-40 hours

Paid holiday time: 4 weeks.

Similarly, the Dutch work fixed office hours. Expats in the Netherlands asked what they loved most about Dutch life and almost 80% were happy with work-life balance. This is backed up by the OECD’s findings that less than 1% of Dutch employees work long hours. Family life is important in the Netherlands too. Mother’s receive 16 weeks paid maternity leave for one child and 20 weeks for multiple births. Their partners receive five days paid leave and an additional five weeks of unpaid leave within six months of the birth.  

Average working week: 42.9

Paid holiday time: 30 days 

The Kingdom of Bahrain ranked second in the Inter-nations survey of expats when it came to work life balance. Bahrain is known amongst expats for its lack of personal income tax so there is incentive to work hard but the culture in the Kingdom is relaxed, making recreation easy. Almost 70% of those surveyed were happy with their work life balance in Bahrain. There are a few urban entertainment centres where expat families can relax and unwind. 

Average working week: 42.7

Paid holiday time: 20 days

There are several reasons why the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand, is regularly listed in the top 5 countries for work life balance:

  • 91% of New Zealanders have a great relationship with their employer
  • 76% are happy with their work life balance
  • Over 50% of employees have flexible working conditions making it easier to juggle work and home life
  • Generous parental leave

A moderate climate and beautiful country, make New Zealand a wonderful place to explore and enjoy during your time off. If you are thinking of starting a family in the coming years, New Zealanders can take up to 12 months parental leave with 22 weeks paid leave. 

Average working week: 40.6 hours

Paid holiday time: 10 days

Warm weather and beautiful surroundings to enjoy when not at work make Costa Rica a popular location for expats. Work life balance is good according to 69% of expats in this tropical location. Almost 80% also said they feel ‘at home’ in the local culture. What’s even better about moving to Costa Rica as an expat,  65% of those asked say making friends is easy. If you plan to start a family while in Costa Rica you can look forward to 4 months of paid maternity leave

Once you decide where in the world you want to work, don't forget international health insurance so you can access private healthcare while you are away should you need it. We have plans to suit everyone.