The best place to live for your children’s health and wellbeing

If your children’s overall health and wellbeing is paramount to having a happy expat experience, look no further than northern Europe, according to the results of a new global expat survey.

Two young children playing on grass

The Netherlands has overtaken Sweden as the best place to raise an expat family, rising nine places in one year, according to the latest HSBC Expat Explorer report. More than three-quarters (76%) of expat parents in the Netherlands say the health and wellbeing of their children is better than it was at home. Expat parents also praise the quality of education and childcare with 72% and 65% respectively saying it is better than at home.

Respondents to the survey were asked nine key questions about the family aspects of living in their adopted country. Three of these questions cover an expat’s relationships (for example, whether their social life is more active); a further three look at education and childcare (for example, the quality and cost of education); and the final three examine the impact of raising children abroad (for example, the ease of their children making friends).

“The success or failure of a life overseas often depends on the happiness of the whole family.”

Northern European countries dominate the Expat Explorer league table for family this year, headed up by the Netherlands, which has overtaken Sweden, the previous leader since 2015, and now in second position.

Here are the top 10 Expat Explorer countries for raising a family overseas

  1. Netherlands
  2. Sweden
  3. Singapore
  4. Norway
  5. Germany
  6. New Zealand
  7. Philippines
  8. India
  9. Canada
  10. Spain

Family on bikes in Amsterdam. the Netherlands

More than three-quarters (76%) of expat parents in the Netherlands say the health and wellbeing of their children is better than it was at home, compared with half (50%) of expat parents globally.

I had an amazing experience raising my children in Catalunya, Spain. The climate was perfect for us, the people friendly, the healthcare was good, with plenty of alternative practitioners. We lived on the beach most of the time, but there was also easy access to the mountains and to airports to travel “back home”. The education was fine, though a bit of struggle when it went all Catalan. I would recommend it to anyone with a young family.

A very interesting finding of this year’s report is that the top overseas places to raise expat children do not correlate with the top places in the ‘Economics’, ‘Experience’ or ‘Overall’ country rankings. Which means that parents have an even tougher decision to make if they use the ranking to help decide where to live for the best expat family life.

Silhouette of man with young child on his shoulders

The benefit of overseas living

Almost a quarter (24%) of parents who completed the EE survey said they thought their children’s confidence had grown and self-reliance had improved.

I think those are really important benefits that anyone contemplating living overseas, but having a hard time deciding whether to go, should be very mindful of. My two children are quite different in outlook to their peers in the UK who have never been expats. I think they are more adventurous; more at ease travelling; more inquisitive; and both speak more than one language. Huzzah!

“More than three in five (61%) serial expat children are considered more open to new experiences and cultures by their parents, compared with half (50%) of short tenure first timers. Meanwhile, more than half (54%) of expat children living overseas for a long period are fluent in more than one language compared with just over two-fifths (42%) of those abroad for the first time and for a short period.”

Not without its challenges

Living overseas has its challenges for expat children. For my two children it was not being able to see cousins, grandparents and aunties as much as they would have liked. The top five main challenges of children whose parents completed the Expat Explorer survey were:

  • Missing family and friends
  • Making new friends
  • Settling into a new school
  • Learning a new language
  • Getting used to the local climate

What challenges have your children faced? Do you agree with the results of the survey? Please do leave a comment below: