In a post-COVID-19 world, as remote and hybrid working continues to become more prevalent, employee well-being and comfort have never been more of a priority.
So much so that according to a recent study by Forbes Advisor, more than half (54 per cent) of British workers would accept a lower paying job in exchange for a better balance between work and private life.
But which cities have the best work-life balance? The answer lies predominantly in Europe, as revealed by this year Forbes work-life balance index.
Forbes Advisor surveyed 128 major cities around the world, giving each one a score out of 100, where the higher the score, the better the work-life balance.
The study ranked cities based on 10 different factors, including happiness, gender equality, average working hours, minimum legal annual leave and hours of sunlight.
European cities, especially those in the Scandinavian countries, top the list, mainly due to excellent parental leave policies, increased paid vacation days and flexible working arrangements.
Here’s a look at the top 10 cities in the world for work-life balance:
10. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, offers a low cost of living and a low property price/income ratio compared to other major UK cities. Businesses in the city also offer generous maternity leave policies.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is the first city in the UK to rank in the top 10 for work-life balance. In addition to its outstanding natural beauty, the Scottish capital offers a generous 28-day annual leave policy and maternity leave policy of a minimum of 39 weeks pay.
8. Vienna, Austria
Thanks to its wide range of green spaces and free healthcare and education, Vienna, the capital of Austria, is an ideal place to live for a better work-life balance.
Unemployment rates in the city are just 2.3% and employees tend to benefit from an average of five weeks annual leave.
7. Reykjavik, Iceland
Thanks to the Icelandic government’s emphasis on a healthy work-life balance, many businesses in the capital have adopted flexible working arrangements with 46% of advertised remote and hybrid jobs. In addition, employees are entitled to 24 days of annual leave and 12 public holidays.
6. Gothenburg, Sweden
Working and living in Gothenburg means focusing on employee well-being; workers are offered 25 days annual leave and flexible working arrangements with 42% of job postings advertising remote or hybrid work options.
5. Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland is the only non-European city to rank in the top 10 in the Work-Life Balance Index.
Employees in New Zealand’s largest city are entitled to an average workweek of 26.3 hours, four weeks of paid vacation and 11 public holidays per year.
Auckland’s growing economy offers ample job opportunities across multiple sectors with a low unemployment rate (3.2%).
4. Oslo, Norway
Despite being an expensive city, Oslo’s high living standards and high wages make it one of the best cities to work and live in.
Many companies in Oslo offer flexible working hours, allowing employees to manage their work and personal schedules.
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Full-time employees in Stockholm receive a minimum of 25 days of annual leave, providing ample time off. Flexible working arrangements are prevalent, with nearly half (46%) of jobs advertising hybrid or remote working options.
Additionally, employers offer generous parental leave policies, with parents entitled to up to 480 days of paid leave, and each parent entitled to 240 days.
2. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki ranks second among the best cities to live and work in, thanks to its emphasis on community and a healthy lifestyle, which have helped put Finland at number one in the World Happiness Index.
Helsinki companies offer a combined 320 working days of parental leave, up to five weeks of annual leave and flexible working arrangements, including remote work options, in compliance with Finnish social policies.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen tops the list of cities with the best work-life balance, and it’s no wonder. The Danish capital has received high scores on several lifestyle aspects, including being the second happiest city in the world and the number one city for gender equality according to the Gender Inequality Index.
Denmark is also renowned for its flexible working hours, a minimum of five weeks annual leave, low unemployment rates (2.4%) and 52 weeks parental leave split for both parents.
Other cities that scored highly on the list include Amsterdam, Zurich, Prague, Sydney and Abu Dhabi. These cities offer a great work-life balance, with strong economies, low unemployment rates, and generous employee benefits.
No US city managed to secure a spot in the top 50, with the highest-ranked city, Atlanta, ranking 52nd globally. This significant contrast with other European countries is the result, among other things, of the lack of paid annual leave and mandatory maternity leave for employees in the United States.