Relocating to the happiest country in the world

The Nordic countries can usually be found at the top of the annual ranking for “The World Happiness Report” by UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This year Finland topped the list of 156 countries by excelling in all of the measured areas: economic strength, freedom of choice, social support, life expectancy, generosity, and absence of corruption. According to the report, the Nordic nation vaulted from 5th place to the top of the rankings this year. Traditionally, the scores had been almost interchangeable between the Nordic countries. This year is no different, and the Nordic neighbors aren’t far behind: Norway (2nd), Denmark (3rd), Iceland (4th) and Sweden (9th).


The title of the happiest country in the world is a special one this year. It was the first year that UN also measured the happiness levels of immigrants. Finland topped the list in this category as well. Not only are the locals happy, but also the people who have relocated here. The 2018 study focused on a central issue revolving around the mobility of people and the search for a happier life. The study assessed migration by type: internal migration (rural-urban) and international migration.


The study found that the top 10 countries in the overall “happiness” list all also had the highest scores for immigrant happiness, concluding that relationship between quality of life in the host country is strongly linked to the well-being of the immigrants.


The report identifies three key characteristics for happy immigrants. 1. In the typical country, immigrants are about as happy as people born locally. 2. The happiness of each migrant depends not only on the happiness of the locals but also on the level of happiness in the migrant’s country of origin. And 3. The happiness of immigrants also depends importantly on how accepting the locals are towards the immigrants.


The report also notes that migrants and locals are both better off, when those relocating to the country bear an open mind and a positive attitude. Familiarizing oneself with the culture and customs of the host country significantly improves the chances to settle in and connect with the local population. Many of the migrants have never been in the new destination country and tend to rely on hearsay and information they can find online. The report points out that many of the unhappy outcomes of immigration occur when reality does not meet expectations. The comprehensive and valuable relocation services provided by FRS can immensely improve your employee’s relocation experience by ensuring that his/hers expectations are met.


Although many of our customers point out that Finns aren’t ones to brag, we have plenty of reasons why we should. In addition to the new list-topper, Finland has been ranked as the safest, most stable and best governed country in the world. Not to mention, the country has also been rated as the least corrupt, most socially progressive, having the most trusted police force and the soundest banks in the world. A complete list of Finland’s achievements on a global scale can be found here.


The UN report summarizes this well: “(Helsinki) (is not one of) the world’s happiest cities because of where (it is located), but because (its) residents have over many decades built levels of trust, connections, cooperation and innovation sufficient to deliver satisfying lives for themselves, and to be in a position to help others do the same.”


Other advantages that our customers point about their new lives in Finland are often linked to the highly valued balance between work and personal life. Flexible working hours, efficient and affordable healthcare, generous parental leaves and child benefits are all essential matters to all residents of Finland.


Without a doubt, these factors create an environment that enables its inhabitants to nurture happiness and well-being. Oddly enough, there are some peculiarities that to a foreigner may appear unusual for the happiest country in the world.


Finns are generally perceived as introverted and taciturn. Characteristics not often associated with overwhelming happiness. Although the country is well known for its astonishingly beautiful nature, the enjoyment of the thousands of lakes and forests is clouded by the long, cold and dark winters. Compared to the Nordic countries, Finland also has the lowest GDP per capita.


Maybe it’s the humility and lack of pride that constitutes to the happiness of Finns. The people aren’t striving for extreme happiness and wealth. As a result, they end up being more than content with the life they have. Maybe it’s the national philosophy of ‘sisu’ (what must be done will be done, regardless of what it takes. Persistence, courage and stamina during hard times) that helps the people overcome the obstacles set by the challenging winters.


When asked by Reuters to describe life in Finland, American teacher Brianna Owens mentions the following: “I think everything in this society is set up for people to be successful, starting with university and transportation that works really well.” She often jokes that people are living the American dream in Finland.


The UN report concludes “Happiness is not something inherently in short supply, like gold, inciting rushes to find and much conflict over ownership. My gold cannot be your gold. But happiness, unlike gold, can be created for all, and can be shared without being scarce for those who give. It even grows as it is shared”.


The full “World Happiness Report” can be found here. For more information and quotes for FRS relocation services contact or +358 9 502 1220.


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