The Best Work-Life Balance Cities Are Not in the US, According to New Study

Busy woman is in a hurry, she does not have time, she is going to eat snack on the go.
Estrada Anton /

If you’re looking to improve your work-life balance, you might want to look overseas. A new study finds that the top places are outside of the United States, with Oslo, Norway being at the top spot. As for the top U.S. city — you’ll have to scroll down to the 32nd spot to find Seattle.

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The new study, released by Kisi on May 25, examined data on work intensity — including vacation days taken and paid parental leave — institutional support, legislation and city livability — including outdoor spaces and affordability — to rank cities based on their success in promoting work-life balance to their citizens. Kisi also said it examined the role of society and institutions in caring for city residents during this difficult period.

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“To do this, we examined the impact of the pandemic and the support offered in each city, as well as the quality of healthcare, access to mental healthcare and the extent of gender and LGBT+ equality,” Kisi said. 

So which cities are the best for work-life balance?

Following Oslo are:

  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Helsinki, Finland (which held the top spot in 2021)
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Copenhagen, Denmark

Rounding out the top 10 are Geneva, Switzerland; Ottawa, Canada; Sydney, Australia; Stuttgart, Germany and Munich, Germany.

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At the bottom of the list is Cape Town, South Africa, in the number 100 spot. It’s followed by Dubai, UAE; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Bangkok, Thailand. 

The top overworked cities, according to Kisi’s data, are Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Montevideo, Uruguay.

In terms of the most vacation taken, Helsinki, Madrid, Barcelona and Sao Paulo top the list with 30 days.  U.S. cities are at the bottom of the vacation list, ranging from 11.4 days in New York to seven days in Los Angeles.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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