31st March 2023
Given that we’re now officially in spring and as we start to see the back of winter, what better way to get in the mood for the warmer months than to look at some of the happiest (and best) countries for global contractors to work in. While the places that we will be talking about in our article are sure to bring a smile to your face, global contractors must of course do their homework prior to moving. Understanding all tax, employment and immigration compliance matters is a must to avoid getting into difficulties with local authorities and the risk of incurring severe penalties.
The source of our information is none other than the 2023 World Happiness Report, which has been going strong since 2012 – indeed, the first International Day of Happiness was celebrated a decade ago on the 20 March 2013. Before we reveal the top 10, it is worth mentioning the six key factors that the report publishers use to reach their verdict and which they consider to be the most important contributors to happiness. They are (in no particular order) social support, freedom, absence of corruption, health, income and generosity. Right, let’s dive into the results…
You might (or not) be surprised to discover the top ranking country – for a staggering sixth year in succession – was Finland. The Finns really seem to have cracked happiness. With few people living in poverty, a low crime rate, stunning natural landscapes, a strong emphasis on community and cooperation as well as a commitment to sustainability and you begin to see why locals are content with their lot. Enjoying the simple things in life such as pure water, clean air and connecting with nature seem to be the recipe for a happy life. Clearly, we have a lot to learn from our Finnish friends!
There must be something about Nordic life that equates to happiness because Denmark and Iceland came second and third respectively. The former always scores highly in community spirit, social equality and social welfare, healthcare is free and the concept of hygge (time spent with family and friends) is a characteristic of Danish culture. Many of the same reasons apply to Icelanders who place great importance on social relationships – people trust each other!
The fourth happiest country was found to be Israel, which has risen an incredible 10 places since 2020. While this high ranking might seem somewhat at odds with the difficult geopolitical situation, social support and a strong sense of community stand out as the key differentiators for Israelis. That the Netherlands should complete the top five is less of a surprise. Here is a country with low levels of corruption, high GDP per capita and is known for its liberal attitude. Quality of life and standard of living is extremely high in an economy that has proved extremely resilient post-pandemic.
Factors to consider for global contractors
Yet two more Scandinavian countries rank highly – Sweden (6) and Norway (7) – followed by two nations (one technically a Duchy) that are renowned for their free market economies and very high per capita GDP and salaries. Yes, Switzerland (8) and Luxembourg (9) would be high on the list for many global contractors, especially those looking to work in banking, IT or pharma. And rounding off the top 10, many miles away in the south western Pacific, is New Zealand, which shares many of the Scandi attributes in terms of its small size, stunning landscapes and social cohesion.
The report sends out a powerful message and global contractors looking to live and work abroad should take into account the different factors that constitute wellbeing. While income and financial benefits will always be a prime consideration, mental and physical wellbeing is also improved where there is a strong sense of citizenship, community spirit and government support. Locations like those mentioned will enable you to achieve a better quality of life and work-life balance while living in harmony with little to no crime and corruption. Food for thought before taking the plunge?
Whichever location you decide upon, to ensure that you can live and work happily and importantly stay on the right side of local legislation, you must remain compliant in all tax, immigration and employment matters. Failure to do so can lead to hefty fines, prosecution and even deportation. If you are concerned, our 6CATS International experts can advise on compliance in over 80 countries.
6CATS International is part of WorkwellTM Group
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