The 2018 World Happiness Report (otherwise known as “All Hail Scandinavia, You Poor Non-Scandinavian Souls”) once again saw many of the top spots for happiest places to live in the world go to Northern Europe.
Per its findings, taking an extended trip to Scandinavia would be the most efficient route to happiness. A whopping five of the 10 happiest countries are in Scandinavia: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.
Who joins Scandinavia on the list? Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada round out the top ten happiest places to live. This teaches us that happy places aren’t necessarily the warmest. So while tropical locations get lots of tourist love, colder climates may have more long-lasting positive impacts on the residents.
The report focuses on six key metrics: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity. All these factors significantly contribute to wellbeing.
While tropical locations get lots of tourist love, colder climates may have more long-lasting positive impacts on the residents..
This year the report also considered immigrants’ happiness as well as natives. So it’s a handy resource for future expats and anyone considering a permanent move.
At the risk of being contrary, let’s focus on places outside Scandinavia (as really you should just go to the region and enjoy its abundance) and some lesser-known facts about each one of these happiest places to live.
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Here Are 5 of the Happiest Countries on Earth:
Rated as the world’s happiest countries and, therefore – of course – the happiest places to live, these five countries need to be on your bucketlist if you’re looking to move.
Home to Alpine wonderlands and a staple of winter tourism, Switzerland is not just the home of the Matterhorn, glaciers, Lake Geneva, and breathtaking hiking trails. It also boasts Zurich’s contemporary flair and impressive museums.
(Pro Tip: if you love a morning espresso you may want to bring your own as Zurich has some of the most expensive coffee in the world.)
Happy places aren’t necessarily the warmest.
Switzerland also has a very low crime rate, four official languages (French, German, Italian, and Romansh), and some of the highest salaries around.
In the last decade it’s also pushed gender equality progress to compensate for once-entrenched disparities. For instance, women gained the right to vote on the national level and stand in Parliament in 1971. Yikes.
2. The Netherlands
The cultural richness and laissez-faire attitude of the Netherlands is well known. Though tourists and visitors often sing the praises of Amsterdam, there’s much more to the nation than its capital, diverse and art-filled as it may be.
While most of the country is in Western Europe, the Netherlands also includes the island territories of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba in the Caribbean.
So whether you’re looking for a tropical getaway off the beaten path or want to glory in Rotterdam’s architecture (just a short, cheap train ride from Amsterdam), the Netherlands has you covered.
Australia’s vastness is only matched by the depth of its people’s history and its singular environment. Remember that Aboriginal people lived in Australia for at least 60,000 years before Europeans arrived – and in all that time they left its beauty to flourish. It’s a land that lends itself to walkabouts, road trips, and deep dives to take it all in.
Australia is the world’s smallest continent, which makes it one of the largest nations. Though the middle of the country is largely uninhabited, the rest of the land is filled with unique plants, animals, and iconic landscapes.
From Sydney and Melbourne (regularly rated two of the best cities in the world) to the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia is one of the world’s happiest countries.
Another bonus: it’s a short plane ride to neighboring New Zealand.
4. New Zealand
Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but – with that being said – New Zealand is one of the most gorgeous places in the world.
Given that this island nation has environments ranging from hot water beaches to renowned vineyards and glaciers, there’s something for just about every nature lover nestled somewhere on its North and South Islands.
New Zealand is one of the most gorgeous places in the world.
For those looking for a more metropolitan experience, the largest city (Auckland) along with the capital Wellington will not disappoint. New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington is a hidden gem of architectural beauty and cultural heritage (Maori and settler alike).
From there you can hop on a ferry to take you and your car across the majestic Marlborough Sounds and on to whale watching, seal sightings, and glacier walks.
Canadians are famous for their niceness, which may get annoying for them, but is a good indicator for the rest of us. Besides the low probability of hand-to-hand combat and imminent abundance of cannabis, the cities of Toronto and Vancouver are two of the best foodie destinations in North America.
Canada’s diverse population leads to a smorgasbord of great food: French, Caribbean, First Nations, Persian, and Chinese Canadian, just to name a few. Even Canadian fast food comes in many flavors and cuisines (LaFleur, Edo Japan, Thai Express).
Also they love their Tim Horton’s coffee, so you might want to find out why for yourself.
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Visit the Happiest Places to Live
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and visit all of the happiest countries!
When you visit these joyful lands, don’t miss the forgotten corners or forget what makes them special.
But, perhaps most importantly, don’t underestimate Scandinavian happiness and why its countries are widely considered the happiest places to live in the world.
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