Although some professions may be relatively stress-free, achieving a healthy work-life balance seems
like an impossible task for many people.
In today's rapidly evolving technological era, the boundaries between work and personal time have
become blurred. Coupled with concerns about unemployment, many individuals are forced to work
long hours and are unable to fully utilize their vacation or sick leave.
However, the situation varies greatly in some cities around the world. In top-ranking cities, companies
provide professionals with opportunities to maintain a work-life balance through measures such as
excellent healthcare and ample vacation time.
According to the Forbes Advisor 2023 rankings, here is a list of the top cities worldwide that encourage
work-life balance. The ranking is based on a composite work-life balance score, measured on a scale
of 0 to 100, by comparing data from 128 cities. The higher the score, the better the work-life balance
in the city.
The analyzed factors include:
(1)World Happiness Index ranking
(2)Gender Inequality Index ranking
(3)Average working hours
(4)Statutory minimum annual leave
(5)Housing affordability ratio
(6)Proportion of remote and hybrid job openings
(7)Maternity leave policies
(8)Number of parks and nature reserves per capita
Here is the list of the top 25 ranked cities:
European cities dominate the rankings, with 20 cities making it to the list of the best cities globally
for work-life balance. These cities offer diverse cultures and lifestyles, providing residents with a
balance between work and personal life. Healthy living habits and generous policies regarding
vacation and parental leave also contribute to cities like Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo
securing the top four spots. In fact, the average workweek in these cities is less than 30 hours.
Finland's Helsinki, in particular, boasts a remote work proportion exceeding 50%.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
Work-life balance score: 70.5
The top-ranked city is Copenhagen, Denmark, with a work-life balance score of 70.5/100. The city's
high standard of living, low unemployment rate, 52-week parental leave, and focus on sustainable
development and green spaces all contribute positively to its score. Danes prioritize self-care and
relaxation, which further aids their work-life balance.
2. Helsinki, Finland
Work-life balance score: 65.1
Helsinki ranks second in the list of cities most suitable for living and working, and the Finnish
capital places a strong emphasis on community and a healthy lifestyle. These factors contribute
to Finland's top ranking in the World Happiness Index.
As a country, Finland is known for its progressive social policies, including equitable parenting
leave after the birth of a child. Generous annual leave means that Finnish workers typically
enjoy up to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year, providing ample opportunities for rest and
Furthermore, many companies in Helsinki offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work
options, to help employees balance work responsibilities and personal obligations. Overall, over
half of job openings involve remote or hybrid work options.
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Work-life balance score: 64.8
Stockholm ranks third among the best places for work-life balance. The city boasts a strong
economy and a high standard of living. It offers a thriving cultural landscape, including
world-class museums and music venues.
Full-time employees in Sweden have the right to a minimum of 25 days of annual leave, providing
potential opportunities for leisure and personal fulfillment.
Employers frequently offer flexible work arrangements, with nearly half (46%) of job positions
promoting hybrid or remote work.
Employers also provide generous parental leave policies. After the birth of a child, parents are
entitled to a maximum of 480 days of paid parental leave, with each person eligible for 240 days
of paid leave.
Many European companies prioritize employee well-being, leading to the emergence of a culture
of health. This culture includes practices such as remote work and mental health support.
While Europe dominates the top 25 list, some cities in Oceania also showcase a healthy work-life
The fifth-ranked city is Auckland, New Zealand, with an average workweek of 26.3 hours and a
parental leave of up to one year.
Meanwhile, Brisbane (53.3), Melbourne (53.1), and Sydney (51.4) in Australia have average
workweeks ranging from 32.4 to 38 hours. The sunny weather in these cities also positively
impacts their work-life balance scores.
For some, safety is key. The capital of the United Arab Emirates is the only Asian city to make it
into the top 25, despite its high cost of living and relatively fewer vacation days for workers.
However, the city is known for its safety, sunny climate, and high quality of life.
Unfortunately, technologically advanced United States and hardworking East Asian countries did
not make the list.
Companies can achieve a good work-life balance in the following eight ways:
1. Provide flexible work arrangements: Offer options such as remote work, flexible hours,
and job sharing to help employees balance personal and professional responsibilities.
2. Encourage rest: Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout
and improve productivity.
3. Establish clear boundaries: Set expectations and boundaries regarding work hours and
communicate them clearly to employees to prevent overwork and work-life conflicts.
4. Promote self-care: Encourage employees to prioritize self-care, such as engaging in physical
activities, accessing mental health support, and taking vacations that meet their personal needs.
5. Set realistic goals: Collaborate with employees to set realistic goals and deadlines to avoid
6. Foster open communication: Encourage open communication between employees and
management to address work-life conflicts or concerns.
7. Provide employee wellness programs: Implement wellness programs such as fitness classes,
meditation sessions, or health and nutrition workshops to promote a healthy lifestyle and work-life
8. Lead by example: Encourage managers and leaders to set an example of work-life balance and
prioritize their own self-care, serving as role models for employees.