Where To Start Your Career: Top 5 Countries With The Perfect Work-Life Balance

Having the perfect balance between your work life, family and leisure is for most people the formula to a happy life. And in some countries this formula is better balanced than in others.

As most of us are still starting Career Girls, it is easier to job-hop and travel around to see where you want to settle down and work.

If you would like to have the perfect work/life balance, some countries are better to live in than others. The United States, for example, is one of the countries with the most overworked people. Long hours, little sleep and not a lot of paid holidays is mostly the cause of it.

Since we all would love a perfect balance between our career and personal life, it is sometimes good to consider your options across borders. Research done by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) shows in which countries this balance is at is best and where the quality of life is still very high!

#1 – Germany

According to this research Germans work an average of 27.8 hours a week (how awesome is that!) which is one of the lowest working hours found in this study. Although you might think that working less hours means a lower quality of life, the opposite is true. Germans have a high standard of living and still have one of the strongest economies in Europe. So maybe the perfect balance of the ‘happy life formula’ might turn out better than we initially thought.

#2 – Brazil

Brazil is the country with the most paid holidays per year in this world. Full-time employee’s can get up to 41 (!) paid holiday’s from which 11 are federal holidays and the others are for leisure. The work/life balance in Brazil is one of the best in the world, people tend to be more happy and satisfied with their lives.

#3 – France/Finland

Just like in Brazil, the French and Finish don’t have a lot to complain when talking about paid holidays. With 40 paid holidays per year, these two countries share a worthy second place. Furthermore, in Finland only 0.04% of the populations works over 50 hours a week on average! This is also an important indicator to measure the work/life balance.

#4 – Denmark

This is the country with the best work-life balance and was ranked #1 by the OECD. With 34 paid holidays and, just like Finland, only 0.04% is working an average of 50 hours a week, good salaries and a high quality of living, Denmark is certainly a country for Career Girls.

#5 – The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, people work an average of 27.6 hours a week. According to this research, nowhere in the world are workers less on the job than in the Netherlands. Just like Germany, despite the fact that they work fewer hours, they still maintain a high-quality living and they have an average of 28 paid holidays per year.

 What would for you be the formula to a happy life? Share it with us and don’t forget to enter our fab Dior giveaway to bag yourself a pair of sexy summer sunglasses!

21 Comments
  1. Hi. I love your blog :) Happy to hear the thing about Denmark, cause I am a danish girl. I must admit that after I lived in NYC for three months i loved that too. The energy is amazing and people are so passionated.
    But yes, Denmark is a great place also to follow your dream and they do a LOT for the people her. We pay a lot of taxes, way more than US. Almost 40% and 50% if you earn a lot. So that’s a lot, but that also means this: almost everyone have a place to live. We can visit the docters for free, the school is free and our education on unversity and we actually get paid for it. So yes.
    Overall a very nice and thankful country to be born in!

  2. Funny to find out the Netherlands has a good balance. How easy things are normal for you when you live that way. Maybe it’s the 36 hours to blame ;) I expected also Sweden in this top 5 too..

  3. As a Dutchie I am positively surprised to see the Netherlands in this list. I work 32 hours a week and have 1 day of to spend with my son. Perfect balance for me!
    – X Marloes

  4. The thing with statistics is that they show an average that actually doesn’t have to exist. As a German living and working in Germany I can tell you that we have a high standard of living compared to other countries. But it has been changing drastically. While there are a lot of wealthy people we get more and more poor people. The middle class is vanishing. The normal amount of weekly work hours is 40, by the way. But more and more people cannot live on what they make in 40, 50 or 60 hours.
    The times of milk and honey are long gone in Germany.

  5. I am very surprised that Brazil is on the list. My Brazilian hubby does not agree with the good work life balance there, work days are long and salaries are low.
    So we choose to live in the Netherlands where i get 35 paid holidays of my choice and additionally about 7 national holidays. On top of that I can work from home on a fixed day every week to improve my work/life balance.

  6. Wow – the Germans sounds like they have it all figured out! I had heard companies in France gave on average 40 days holiday, I can only dream! Although in the UK we are better off than the US, they average about 10-15 days a year :O – that I couldn’t imagine!

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  7. This article is really interesting! Now I’m studiyng in Austria, and I have some German friends, who confirm the things you said about working there. The wages are also quite high! let’s think about it!! :)

    Carolina

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  8. Actually, I’m thinking on study my master in Germany next year, and maybe, just maybe stay there. Will be like a dream come true.

  9. I love Germany work ethic and style of work!! I’m from Spain in which personal and professional balance is impossible! I’m a lawyer and I work until 11pm at night everyday!! I wish this could change since it’s not efficient for work! xx

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  10. I think the low average of working hours in Germany comes from the fact that women often only work part time or even stay home fulltime, because of the bad child care system… so sad!

  11. Sweden was in the top 10 with an amazing maternity leave! Definitely one of the countries with a very good work/life balance.

  12. I admit that I’m biased, because I want to leave this country and sure life here is better than in many other countries but nevertheless what Kathrin said in the fifth comment is true. Don’t be blinded by statistics, that’s not what life in Germany is like. The gap between rich and poor here is big and growing and the calculated average of leading a good life while working only 27.8 hours might be true for a small minority (one I’ve never even heard of) but for most people it’s unrealistic and even unachievable no matter what they do.

  13. Germany is probably not on the first place but should surely be in Top 10. I have worked in different countries by now and in different international projects, and now I live in work in Germany, and it is true: there is a very big emphasis on the private life and a clear distinction between work and what you do after. Piece of advice: never set up a conference call on Friday afternoons, Germans have Feierabend starting at 15:00 :) :) :) (well now me included haha).

  14. Hi Mel, I think that the statistics have a lot of gaps in showing the reality, remember that’s why they are called statistics and not “how life really is” :) but compared to other countries, Germany has surely a bog standard of living. And also compared to other countries, Russia anyone?, the gap between rich and poor is not that big. Here you can still raise a family out of a decent salary, but in other countries you would have to have that job plus 2 more in order to achieve the same level of life decency.
    Ok, what I am trying to say, that comparing Germany today with Germany several years ago, it is different from comparing Germany today with Russia, Ukraine, Bangladesh today (include your country of choice here).
    For me I am very happy with my life here and in this moment the only other country I would change it for, would me maybe some Nordic country. They say though the Nordics are between the happiest people in the world :).
    Gruesse,
    Laura

  15. Originally I’m a Dutchie myself, but chose to work and live in Sweden. Even though it might seem Dutch people work on average less, it’s because the concept of part-time is very normal. Which also mean you get the lower salary attatched to that. In the NL it’s especially since the economic crash also rather difficult to get a permanent contract offer, which f.e. directly results in my Dutch friends having doubts on job security and not being able to put down offers on a place.
    For me, living in Sweden came with so many more benefits. 30 days of paid leave, on top of 15 national holidays and 5 squeeze days – the days between a holiday and a weekend, I kid you not. Paid healthcare, 180days of maternity leave. Also the regular offer of permanent positions is much higher.
    So overall, I can see why these countries are listed high, but as some other readers have pointed out, the statistics might not give a good insight

  16. I choose the Netherlands to live in when I was 15 after one week spent in this country and now I know it was a god decision :D I have entered this article with a deep breath, I love the Netherlands and I am so happy this country is in first five! Thank You!

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