The Best And Worst Countries To Live For Work-Life Balance

When you work hard day in and day out at your job, you also want to have time to play hard, spend time with family, and enjoy some vacation days. However, some places make that balance a little easier to strike.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, these are the best—and worst—countries to live in for world-life balance (and honestly, I’m ready to pack my bags).

Best: Germany

empty Pariser Platz by the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Photo Credit: Maja Hitij / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Maja Hitij / Getty Images

Germany’s labor policies are some of the best in the world. Full-time employees are offered up to three years of parental leave per child and a minimum of 24 paid vacation days annually. On average, Germans also tend to work overall shorter hours, with most full-time employees clocking 7-8 hours daily.

Worst: Colombia

A coffee picker collects coffee in the mountains near Ciudad Bolivar, Antioquia department, Colombia
Photo Credit: JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP via Getty Images

Colombia’s main industries are agriculture are mining; with a population of 49 million people, over 26% of employees work exceptionally long hours. The average Colombian works for 12 hours a day with many lower-wage employees working six days a week.

Best: Denmark

copenhagen canal and colorful buildings
Photo Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP via Getty Images

Denmark is continuously ranked top three by the UN for being the happiest country in the world, and there’s a reason. Only 2% of the workforce reports working long hours, the average workweek consists of 37 hours, and there’s a minimum of 25 days of vacation for workers annually. Despite working less, Denmark is the second-most productive country in Europe (after Ireland).

Worst: Mexico

aerial view of Skyscapers of Mexico City, Mexico.
Photo Credit: Independent Picture Service / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Independent Picture Service / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Similar to Colombia, Mexican workers on average work a little less than 12 hours a day. The main industries in the country are agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, meaning many people work grueling hours in manual labor jobs and have little free time for themselves.

Best: Sweden

view of stockholm
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images

Swedes seem to have the work hard, play hard mentality down. They report above-average satisfaction with several factors: 69% are happy with their work-life balance, and more than three-quarters (77%) are satisfied with their working hours. About 63% of the average full-time employee’s day is devoted to personal time in Sweden.

Worst: Turkey

Landscape photograph of the Istanbul waterfront and Bosphorus Strait in the early morning, with the city skyline visible in the background,
Photo Credit: Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images

Turkey’s main industries are in textiles and food processing. Though 32.6% of employees work exceptionally long hours, the average Turk has 14.8 hours of personal time a day and they know how to use it well: many use their spare time to socialize with friends and playing sports.

Best: Spain

General view of the city hall of Madrid
Photo Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP via Getty Images

Spain already boasts its traditional midday siesta, which allows citizens to rest in the middle of the workday and eat lunch with their families. Full-time Spanish employees receive a minimum of 22 paid vacation days annually. It’s well known that the Spanish know how to party hard in the evenings, with the vibrant nightlife starting later than usual and ending at about 4 a.m.

Worst: South Korea

people shopping in Myong-dong Street, the downtown shopping area in Seoul, South Korea
Photo Credit: Woohae Cho / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Woohae Cho / Getty Images

South Korea has a vibrant society with strong influences on pop culture on a global scale, but many citizens work long hours in electronics developments, manufacturing, and telecommunications. Still, outside of work, full-time employees say they have more than half a day for their personal pursuits.

Best: Belgium

A boat of tourists sails past a 12-metre installation depicting a whale, made up of five tons of plastic waste pulled out of the Pacific Ocean, displayed in Brugges
Photo Credit: JOHN THYS / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: JOHN THYS / AFP via Getty Images

Belgium has more than just waffles and beer: it also boasts a good average work-life balance. Only 4.8% of employees report working long hours and workers average 15.7 hours of personal time daily. By law, employers cannot exceed a 40-hour workweek for employees.

Worst: Japan

Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji (C) is seen behind the skyline of the Shinjuku area of Tokyo
Photo Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP via Getty Images

A strong value in Japanese culture is a good work ethic. The working hours in Japan differ vastly based on industry, from fishing to financial services and tech. However, 17.9% of the workforce is working extra-long hours; full-time workers have about 14 hours a day on average for hobbies and activities outside of their jobs.

Best: Norway

Bergen, Norway. Bergen aerial view, and the fiordo
Photo Credit: Xulio Villarino / Cover / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Xulio Villarino / Cover / Getty Images

According to the Human Development Index, Norway ranks number one for overall equality, and Norwegians tend to have high job security. Full-time employees average a 6.8-hour workday, leaving much of the day open for personal endeavors and leisure activities.

Worst: Israel

View from a plane to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv from the Mediterranean sea
Photo Credit: Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Lior Mizrahi / Getty Images

In Israel, which has industries focused on communications and tech, the average workweek consists of 8.6-hour days and all Israeli employees with a five-day workweek are entitled to a minimum of 12 paid vacation days. While almost 16% of the workforce reports being on the job for long hours, there’s generally a cultural attitude that encourages leisure time.

Best: France

People cool themselves at the Trocadero Fountain in front of The Eiffel Tower in Paris
Photo Credit: LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP via Getty Images

In France, the minimum amount of vacation time for full-time employees is five weeks (25 business days) and, while overtime work does occur, the average workweek contains only 35 hours. On an average day, French workers have 16.7 hours of leisure time to themselves.

Worst: Chile

Haras de Pirque Vineyards, Chile
Photo Credit: Hoberman Collection / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Hoberman Collection / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With its main industries reliant on manual labor, work is often grueling for its citizens. The average member of the workforce is putting in 11.7 hours a day, but all citizens are entitled to 15 days of vacation time annually.

Best: The Netherlands

cyclists make their way through the city streets
Photo Credit: Mark Dadswell / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Mark Dadswell / Getty Images

In the Netherlands, only 0.5% of workers report working long hours compared to the global average of 12%. They’ve also looked to build a more sustainable community with many choosing to bike rather than use cars or buses, which has helped not only the environment, but also their physical fitness.

Worst: Iceland

The capital city of Reykjavik with traditional bright coloured rooves and snow-covered glacier mountains, Iceland
Photo Credit: Tim Graham / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tim Graham / Getty Images

Iceland’s main industries are tourism, fishing, and energy, and about 15% of employees report working exceptionally long hours and generally have less personal leisure time. However, despite these conditions, Icelanders rated their general life satisfaction above the global average.

Best: Ireland

Tourists check to see if a bar in the Temple Bar district is open
Photo Credit: Charles McQuillan / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

In Ireland, only 5% of citizens report working long hours, and citizens have over 15 hours of personal time daily. Over 70% of the workforce report positive job satisfaction. Over the past ten years, in an attempt to retain domestic talent, many employers have implemented more job perks like flexible working hours and a national minimum of 20 paid vacation days annually.

Worst: South Africa

city centre of Cape Town, shows a view of the historical district of Bo-Kaap (Upper Cape), with the Table Mountain in the background
Photo Credit: RODGER BOSCH / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: RODGER BOSCH / AFP via Getty Images

With an employment rate just under 29%, 15% of the workforce reporting that they work exceptionally long hours, and with lots of jobs in manual labor, South Africa is not exactly the easiest place to work. Eating, sleeping, socializing and hobbies take up 62% of the day for the average full-time employee in South Africa.

Best: Finland

Aurora Borealis seen across the sky in Lapland, Finland
Photo Credit: Marko Korosec / Barcroft USA via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Marko Korosec / Barcroft USA via Getty Images

Finland has one of the best work-life balances in Europe, with the average worker having a 7.3-hour work week and having 8 hours of personal leisure time (apart from sleep) on the average workday.

Worst: Australia

Sydney Opera House and skyline, Australia
Photo Credit: Tim Graham / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tim Graham / Getty Images

Maybe everything isn’t all great in the land down-under. While the average workday is 8 hours long, Australian workers report low levels of job satisfaction due to long commute times—the average employee spends 4.5 hours per week commuting for work—leaving less leisure time for themselves.