Livable Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance
We all need money to live, but that doesn't mean work is everything. Having time to pursue hobbies and socialize is necessary for a healthy, fulfilling life. But besides personal choices, where you live greatly affects how easy it is to achieve an equilibrium between the personal and the professional.
So, which cities have it better? A recent Forbes report analyzed urban centers around the world to come up with a list of the best places to live. The study takes into account factors like paid vacation days, affordability, income equality, proximity to nature and sunlight hours.
These are the 10 livable cities with the best work-life balance — in case you're planning an international move or simply want to torture yourself by seeing how good other people have it.
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10. Belfast, Ireland
Work-life balance score: 57
Bottom line: Northern Ireland's capital is an exciting city with a thriving economy. This translates to plenty of work opportunities and a 2.3 percent unemployment rate. Belfast also has an average of 28 vacation days — on top of the 10 public holidays people already receive.
In short, residents have decent spending power and over a month of annual leave to enjoy life outside of work.
Where to stay: Bullitt Hotel
Note: Rankings are based on Forbes' "Worldwide Work-Life Balance Index 2023."
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
Work-life balance score: 57.1
Bottom line: Beautiful Edinburgh is known for its public parks, historic landmarks and lovely architecture.
The average employee works 25.6 hours a week, enjoys 28 paid vacation days and is entitled to 39 weeks of maternity leave.
Needless to say, residents find it easy to dedicate time to their personal life.
Where to stay: Rabble Hotel
RELATED: The U.S. Is Among the Countries With the Fewest Vacation Days
8. Vienna, Austria
Work-life balance score: 58.5
Bottom line: Vienna is considered the overall most livable city in the world. So it's not surprising to see it rank well for work-life balance. Vienna beats every single city on this list for annual leave days, offering its residents an impressive 30 days plus 13 public holidays.
The city is also close to 79 parks and nature preserves and boasts 1,925 hours of sunlight per year. A cheap public transit system, great social benefits and affordable healthcare contribute to the happiness of those lucky enough to live here.
Where to stay: Hotel Wandl
7. Reykjavik, Iceland
Work-life balance score: 58.7
Bottom line: While Reykjavik is Iceland's largest city, it only has about 122,850 people. This contributes to a tight-knit community feel that helps keep crime rates down.
The country's notorious natural beauty is a hop away from the capital, with waterfalls, hot springs and volcanos all within a day trip's reach.
On the downside, residents must deal with long winters that average around four or five hours of daylight.
Where to stay: Alda Hotel Reykjavik
6. Gothenburg, Sweden
Work-life balance score: 60.7
Bottom line: With plenty of urban green spaces and large boulevards lined with cafes, Gothenburg helps its residents enjoy life when they're not working.
On average, people work fewer than 30 hours. And they are entitled to an exceptional parental leave of 480 days, which can often be divided between parents.
Where to stay: Radisson Blu Riverside Hotel Gothenburg
5. Auckland, New Zealand
Work-life balance score: 62.7
Bottom line: Auckland is the only non-European city to make this list. New Zealand's major urban hub (though not its capital) is famous for offering residents and travelers access to nature at every turn.
People can kayak to nearby islands to see whales and penguins, hike around Mount Victoria, or visit one of the 59 parks and nature preserves around the city.
And while New Zealand is expensive, Auckland's unemployment rate is 3.2 percent, so residents don't lack employment opportunities.
Where to stay: Hotel Debrett
4. Oslo, Norway
Work-life balance score: 63.2
Bottom line: Oslo is a modern city that invests heavily in innovation, thereby creating work opportunities and increasing the quality of life for its residents.
Like Gothenburg, the Norwegian capital gives parents 480 days of paid leave so they can be with their child during a crucial developmental stage.
People also enjoy a strong social safety net, free universal healthcare and many other benefits that make it easy to concentrate on more than making money to survive.
Where to stay: Clarion Hotel the Hub
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Work-life balance score: 64.8
Bottom line: Life in Sweden is costly, but the country is known for having incredible social benefits like free access to education and affordable healthcare. Though social mobility is limited, 35 unicorns (startups valued over a billion dollars) have come out of Sweden.
Stockholm's maritime location provides easy access to remote places above the Arctic Circle, as well as to other Scandinavian and Baltic countries. City dwellers can easily benefit from the relaxing properties of nature.
Where to stay: Haymarket by Scandic
2. Helsinki, Finland
Work-life balance score: 65.1
Bottom line: One of the most underrated European capitals, Helsinki is a pleasant place to live. One of its biggest perks is the lack of giant hordes of tourists that invade other places on this list.
The city is not without its challenges. Its unemployment rate is 7 percent, which is particularly worrisome given the high cost of living.
But those who are able to procure a well-paying job can enjoy over 60 natural attractions nearby, a 52-week parental leave policy and 25 days of paid time off.
Where to stay: Hotel Haven
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Work-life balance score: 70.5
Bottom line: Beating Helsinki by 5.4 points, Copenhagen is the most livable city for anyone who cares about work-life balance. People often move about the city on foot or by bike, reducing traffic and pollution and keeping the population healthy and active.
Besides museums and world-famous landmarks, the Danish capital also has green spaces and a strong cafe culture that encourages people to sit back and relax. Add to this an unemployment rate of 2.4 percent, 52 weeks of parental leave and a work week that averages 25.9 hours, and you'll start to feel jealous of Danish people.
As the amazing cherry on top of everything, Denmark is rated number one on the Gender Inequality Index Rating, so you can expect less gender-based discrimination in the workplace.
Where to stay: Villa Copenhagen