Over the last few months, we published infographic maps comparing happinessliving costsdisposable income and even what matters most to people around the world. The Quality of Life index is made up of a series of factors including safetyhealthcareconsumer prices and purchasing powertraffic commutepollution and property price to income ratio. This map shows exactly that: The Quality of Life index around the world:

There’s quite a few results that are at the very least surprising, like for instance Saudi Arabia being ranked 6th and Oman – 7th in the world by quality of life, well above the US, Canada, Australia and UAE. However, if you dig deeper into the factors that are considered in the index, things become clearer.

How is the Quality of Life index Calculated

The data was collected by Numbeo.com, which is world’s largest database of user-generated content about cities and countries. Firstly it’s important to note the data was gathered from online surveys and not from official government reports. This implies that for some particular factors, the data shows the perception of the local population rather than figures drawn from government reports.

Please note the countries marked with * sign have low data reliability. In determining the Quality of Life index, 7 factors were taken into account, each being based upon a number of surveys as percentage of the population:

Safety: The safety index was determined by such questions as how serious the respondents felt the crime level is and how it changed over the last 3 years. It also included questions about the perception of safety during day and night and how worried the respondents are of getting robbed, insulted or attacked.

Healthcare: The respondents were asked about the competency of medical staff and the quality of medical equipment, the speed of completing examinations, the accuracy and friendliness when dealing with patients.

Consumer Prices: A relative indicator of prices for consumer goods, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities but excluding rent and property prices. Like other indexes the CPI was collected from consumer responses to a few dozen questions on the prices of specific items. Movehub’s Cost of living Map uses the CPI to compare the cost of living around the world.

Purchasing Power: If Consumer Price Index (above) focuses on the absolute price of consumer goods, the purchasing power indicates the ability of the population to buy them. So for instance, the consumer goods prices in Eastern Europe may be lower than in Western Europe, but so is the purchasing power which shows even though prices are lower, people could afford less from their income.

Traffic Commute: this is probably one of the most interesting indexes that are part of the Quality of Life that accounts for a significant shifts in the rankings particularly of low income countries. It’s a composite index of the time spent commuting, but also the dissatisfaction by the consumed time and an estimation of CO2 consumption.

Pollution: This index considered such questions as perception of water and air quality, accessibility of drinking water, nosie pollution, public green spaces and satisfaction with rubbish disposal.

Property Price to Income Ratio: measures apartment purchase affordability using the ratio of median apartment prices to median household disposable income, expressed as years of income.

Highest quality of life

The top 15 countries did reasonably well across all indexes, unsurprisingly Switzerland ranked 1st by a huge margin, followed by Denmark which scored lower solely for the reason of lower purchasing power. In fact, Denmark scored significantly higher on healthcare, consumer prices and had a property price to income ratio of almost half that of Switzerland, showing that for the average incomes buying property is almost twice more affordable.

The 3rd place was rightfully taken by Germany, who had the same property price to income ratio as Switzerland, but ranked much better on Consumer Price Index.

Finland (4th) was placed above Sweden and Norway(9th), mainly due to a significantly higher perception of safety and lower property price to income ratio. In other words buying a 90 square meter apartment for a median salary is a quarter more affordable in Finland than in Norway or Sweden. Also, despite significantly higher wages in Norway, the purchasing power is actually lower than in both Sweden and Finland.

Saudi Arabia and Oman ranked 6th and 7th, above the US, Canada, Australia and the rest of European countries. Even though the wages aren’t necessarily higher, the consumer price index in these countries is significantly lower and so are the property prices. This leads to a significantly higher purchasing power and lower property price to income ration compared to most developed nations. Buying a median priced apartment for a median salary in Oman or Saudi Arabia is 3 times easier than, for instance, in Australia.

Australia was placed 8th, slightly above the US (10th) and Canada (12th). Australia scored very well throughout all indexes, however Australians seem to feel less safe and less happy about their commute, compared to some European nations. Excluding Switzerland and Norway, Australian also have to pay more for same goods and services compared to the US, Canada and most European countries. Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand ranked lower (16th) mainly because of significantly lower purchasing power. On the other hand, the country scored slightly better on all other factors. Kiwis feel slightly safer, more confident in the healthcare they receive, pay less for the same consumer goods, have more affordable property on the median income, are happier about their commute situation and live in a less polluted environment.

Another group placed closely together are Austria (11th)and the Netherlands (13th), which pay less for consumer products and have a higher purchasing power than, for instance UK and Ireland. Dutch and Austrians also feel safer compared to Brits and Irish. Although, a significant difference between the two is that housing in the Netherlands is almost twice as affordable as in Austria and surprisingly Dutch are less happy about their commute.

Iceland was placed 14th just before Luxemburg (15th). Compared to most western European countries, Iceland has a significantly higher consumer price index and lower purchasing power. However Icelanders seem very satisfied with their healthcare. The country also ranks among the best on Pollution and traffic commute.

Quality of life index is an important indicator that you can use to guide your decision when moving abroad, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s merely that, an index. There’s more to quality of life than a collection of numbers. Some of the factors are very subjective and surely all of them have a different degree of importance across the world and for each person in particular.

Do you agree with this or do you think something else should’ve been included in the study? Share it with us, we’d like to know.