Planning to live and work abroad when you are single is one thing, but it can be much more complicated when you have a family. While essential things like the standard of healthcare and quality of life will still be important factors, other considerations may change.
Rather than looking for somewhere with a great nightlife, for example, expats will need to look at cities that are held in high regard when it comes to things like childcare and education. Thankfully, many European countries are rich with incredible cities that are ideal for families looking to settle down.
Copenhagen – Denmark
According to the World Happiness Report, Denmark is the 2nd happiest country in the world. This is down to a wide range of factors reflected in its capital, Copenhagen. As one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, Copenhagen combines everything expats could want into one location. With castles, parks and a zoo side-by-side with all the benefits of a modern city, it is a destination that can suit many tastes and entertain expats of all ages.
Copenhagen is also known for its attractive work-life balance, allowing parents to follow promising career paths while allowing time for families to be together. This is reflected in InterNations’ 2018 Urban Work Life Index which ranked Copenhagen as the best city in the world for work-life balance, with 54% of respondents saying they are very happy with their working hours.
Denmark also benefits from an excellent healthcare system, so you can keep the peace of mind that your family will receive a high standard of care as and when they need it. When you are registered with a CPR number you will receive an insurance card, entitling you to use public health services. While the services offer a high standard of care, a number of treatments are not covered. For this reason, expats should consider investing in an international health insurance plan to ensure your family are covered, whatever happens.
Stockholm – Sweden
When considering factors such as health, quality of life, childcare and school quality, expats surveyed for HSBC’s 2018 Expat Explorer Survey placed Sweden at number one. The finest education in the country is likely to be found in the capital.
The Swedish public school system is free, but the teaching is entirely in Swedish. For this reason, many expats look to international schools. While Stockholm has more international schools than any other city, waiting lists are often long and tuition can be expensive, so it is vital to plan ahead to secure places.
Stockholm is not just Sweden’s capital but is the self-proclaimed capital of Scandinavia due to its rich blend of cultures. Despite being a capital city, it is not crowded and is generally a calm place to live. While the cost of living is high (31st in the world compared to London at 42nd), it is still comparable with other major European cities.
Stockholm is a city which encourages an outdoor lifestyle. It is said that the city is one third water, one third greenery, meaning that there are numerous parks, forests, small islands and coastal walks all minutes from the city centre. While there are long winters, people are still keen to be outside enjoying skating, sledding and other winter activities.
Zurich – Switzerland
Thanks to its position at the heart of Europe, Zurich has been known as a trading centre for centuries. Today it is known for its banking and financial sectors as well as being a great place for shopping and experiencing the arts, which blend the diverse cultural influence of Switzerland’s neighbours and the large expat community.
From high-quality schools to low crime rates and a high-ranking quality of life (second only to Vienna), Zurich is one of the most highly-regarded expat destinations in Europe. As with many Swiss cities, living in these cities can be very expensive. Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index currently ranks Zurich as the 7th most expensive city in the world and the most expensive in Europe, but if you can afford it, your family will quickly discover why it is so highly regarded.
With a multilingual population and four official languages, Zurich is an ideal place to live to experience a pan-European lifestyle all in one place. This diversity also stretches to the landscape and climate. Zurich typically enjoys a continental climate, reaching 30°C during the summer months, but is also just a short drive away from world-class ski resorts.
Vienna – Austria
Ranking third on the 2018 Global Peace Index and being in the top ten for the last decade is an excellent sign that expat families should consider Austria when selecting their next destination.
Compared to London, Vienna is a highly affordable city to live in, allowing expats greater financial freedom and the ability to improve their work-life balance to more spend time with their families. For every £1,000 spent in London, expats in Vienna will only need around £661 to maintain the same quality of life.
For those used to bustling cities, the slower pace to life and more relaxed working hours Vienna offers will give expats plenty of time to discover local area, cycle and explore the city with their families. Being positioned in the centre of Europe is another great benefit, with Prague, Munich and Rome all easily accessible by train.
Known for its rich cultural heritage, Vienna has been home to many great artists and thinkers over the years. Mozart, Beethoven, Klimt and Freud are among the dozens that have called the city home. From Baroque architecture to entertainment and cuisine, Vienna continues to pride itself on being a city of culture and is the ideal place for families to learn about and be inspired by the arts.
With so many locations to choose from, it could be daunting for expat families to choose which European city is the best for their needs. Luckily, Scandinavian and Central European nations are very highly regarded in terms of lifestyle, education and healthcare, so no matter where you decide to settle, you can be confident that the city will provide everything your family needs.
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