The Cities In The World With The Best Work/Life Balance

The Work / Life Balance Index


The pandemic threw the world into pandemonium and changed our lives as we knew them. We couldn’t see our friends or family. Go to the pub. Go to the cinema. We couldn’t even go to the office to do our work. 

As a result, many were forced to work from home – a concept that is continuing to be popular despite Covid restrictions being scrapped.

But with professional and personal boundaries being blurred as a result, many are experiencing a ‘working-from home’ burnout and working more hours than they should.

Essentially, establishing a healthy work/life balance has never been more important. 

That’s why Holidu wanted to shed light on the cities that have got the balance just right – and the ones that are falling short.

Read on below to find out the results.

The Cities In The World With The Best Work/Life Balance


Copenhagen, Denmark

Sitting in the top spot is Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen. Although it’s not the most affordable city to live in – the average monthly bills will set you back around £1,450, Copenhagen has taken the top spot for the city with the best work/life balance.

So, in what ways does Denmark’s capital achieve such a balance you might ask? Well, first and foremost, Copenhagen scored the best for the average annual hours worked at only 1380 (compared to 1668 in the United Kingdom). The city also ranked incredibly high in terms of happiness and wellbeing, with a score of 7.5 that secured its joint-second position for this metric.


Reykjavik, Iceland

In second position, it’s Reykjavik in Iceland. One of the factors that the capital city scored particularly highly on was its short commute time, taking second place in this metric with an average of only 19.83 minutes to the office. As well as scoring well for time spent getting to the workplace, Reykjavik also ranked the highest of the top five for the number of days workers get outside of the workplace, with the minimum number of mandatory paid holiday days in the country being 38.

And whilst Iceland’s capital did slightly lag behind its other ‘top five’ counterparts for happiness and wellbeing, its score of 7.3 is still impressive overall!


Oslo, Norway

It is Norway’s capital city, Oslo, that takes the bronze medal position overall. Out of the top five, the city took first place for its affordability – with the highest average monthly salary of the top five of £2,991 and average monthly bills of only around £1,397.

Oslo also scored particularly well for the average annual hours worked, taking the second spot overall with 1384 hours, and for happiness and wellbeing levels, with a score of 7.5 securing it a joint-second position for this metric.

However, the city did drop points for the commute time with an average of 31.21 minutes, meaning that going to and from the office takes up over an hour of people’s days.


Helsinki, Finland

Taking fourth position overall is Helsinki in Finland. One factor that the capital city stood out for was its happiness and wellbeing levels, of which it scored the highest in the entire index with 7.8 out of 10. Helsinki also scored highly for the minimum number of mandatory paid holiday days with Finns getting 36 days a year.

The one element that Helsinki fell down on though, was its affordability. Whilst the city has the lowest average monthly bills of all the top five cities, Finland’s capital also had the lowest average monthly salary meaning that it scored the lowest in this cohort for the amount of disposable income left over – and 51st overall!


Stockholm, Sweden

Rounding up the top five is Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm. The city scored highly for the average number of holidays taken per capita, with Swedes taking an average of 1.70 getaways each year. Stockholm also scored mid-level in the top five (and a decent 29th overall) for the number of hours sleep people get each night at an average of 7 hours and 27 minutes.

However, of the top five, Stockholm scored the lowest for its commute time with an average travel time of 35.26 minutes – ranking in 71st place for this metric overall. It also ranked the lowest in this cohort for the average annual number of hours worked at 1605 per year.

Holidu Work-Life Balance Index

Results That Particularly Interested Us


Work Space, credit Lauren Mancke via unsplash


The country that sleeps for the longest each night?

Portugal. The country achieved the highest number of hours of sleep each night, with a dreamy 9 hours and 19 minutes on average.



The city with the shortest commute time?

Klagenflut in Austria. The city has the lowest commute time of any other in the index at a snappy 9 minutes on average.


The city with the most disposable income?

Zurich in Switzerland. Although the capital is renowned for being expensive, its average monthly salary of £5,736 means that residents end up with around £3,930 of disposable income each month on average.



To compile the global ‘Work/Life Balance Index’, we first collated a list of all of the main cities in each country in the world and then analysed each on the below factors:

Country: Average annual hours worked
Country: Average hours slept each night
Country: Minimum number of mandatory paid holiday days
Country: Number of outbound trips taken every year (divided by population)

City: Happiness/wellbeing levels
City: Travel Commute Index
City: Affordability score (average monthly net salary minus average cost of rent and bills)

As some factors are more important than others, the scores from ‘average hours worked’ and ‘minimum number of mandatory paid holiday days’ are double weighted.

We used a variety of credible sources to find data for each of the above categories and then ranked the cities from first to last based on this data. Cities, where a full dataset was not available, were omitted from the index.

We then added the scores together to get a total score, before ranking the destinations based on this overall, final score.

Sources include World Economic Forum, World Bank and the World Tourism Organisation.

The starting list included all of the cities on Resonance’s ‘World’s Best Cities’ and Euro Monitor’s ‘Top 100 City Destinations’ lists, as well as some additional cities that were drawn from credible sources including Culture Trip and Business Insider about popular city destinations.

The full dataset and source list are available upon request.

Other posts in this category:

Travel & Lifestyle

The European Foodie Cities Index

Travel & Lifestyle

The Festival Index 2022

Travel & Lifestyle

The Most Popular European City Breaks for 2024

Travel & Lifestyle

The UK's 10 Most Popular Islands for 2022

Travel & Lifestyle

Holidu’s Summer Price Index 2022

Travel & Lifestyle

The World Foodie Cities Index