10 Cities With the Best Work-Life Balance (and the Worst)


Do you work hard or do you work smart? Or do your circumstances allow you to do both?

Kisi, a keyless security company that surveys global lifestyle, studied 40 cities and ranked them according to how well their residents have room for work-life balance. In its 2019 analysis, 20 factors, including job dedication (working hours, commuting), job benefits (institutional support for equality and acceptance, health plans, vacation days), and livability (overall happiness, safety, leisure), were used to figure out a work-life score and assess how well residents can relax after work.

TLDR: According to Kisi, "this index is not designed to be a city livability index, nor is it intended to highlight the best cities to work in; instead, it aims to be a guideline for cities to benchmark their ability to support the fulfillment of residents’ lives by improving the aspects of life that help relieve work-related stress and intensity."

The conclusion? Work and life seem to find a better balance in Europe. Here are the top 10 cities that find the middle ground.


1| Helsinki, Finland

Work-life Score: 10.0

It must really be fun to live in Finland. The Finnish are, time and again, the happiest people in the world, and now they've perfected the balancing act between work and life. Chalk it up to 40-hour-a-week workdays, a monthlong vacation leave, 1,127 days parental leave, and short commuting times. Sounds like heaven.

2| Munich, Germany 

Work-life Score: 98.3

Commuting is around 27 minutes (one minute longer than Helsinki) and the average length of working hours is around the same, but this city also boasts a monthlong vacation leave and 406 days parental leave.

Say what you want about the Germans, but they're truly efficient. There are three German cities in the top 10.

3| Oslo, Norway

Work-life Score: 95.23

Not only do Norwegians work only 38.9 hours a week (the shortest in the world) and get generous paid leave, it's also at the forefront of healthboth physical and mental. It's also high on the gender equality score. 

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4| Hamburg, Germany

Work-life Score: 93.57

Hamburg offers essentially the same benefits as Munich, but it ranks lower on the safety score with 89.4 compared to the latter's 94.8.

5| Stockholm, Sweden

Work-life Score: 89.12

What sets Stockholm apart is its social benefit: It ranks high on gender equality and LGBTQ+ equality. Then, there are the extended parental leave and flexible work hours.

6| Berlin Germany

Work-life Score: 88.82

The German capital missed the top five for its longer commute and significantly higher stress levels. 

7| Zurich, Switzerland

Work-life Score: 84.1

Despite longer work hours and a longer commute, the Swiss have a very low stress score. It might be in the air, literally. Zurich has lower air pollution and emphasizes physical and mental well-being.

8| Barcelona, Spain

Work-life Score: 82.15

The citizens have to enjoy the beaches, right? People in Barcelona have the highest number of vacation days.

9| Paris, France

Work-life Score: 77.84

It's a big drop from Barcelona, but the Parisian commute is really awful apparently. However, this country has made it legal to ignore e-mails sent after office hours. Did we mention that Paris has some of the shortest workweeks, with less than 40 hours?


10| Vancouver, Canada

Work-life Score: 72.55

Here's another big plunge from the scale. Vancouver is the only non-European city to make the list (11th is actually Ottawa, another Canadian city). Leaves range between 10 to 15 days, but workweeks fall under an average of 40 hours.

The Countries with the Worst Work-Life Balance

31| Philadelphia, U.S.

32| Singapore, Singapore

33| Miami, U.S.

34| Cleveland, U.S.

35| Hong Kong, Hong Kong

36| Houston, U.S.

37| Atlanta, U.S.

38| Buenos Aires, Argentina

39| Tokyo, Japan

40| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

According to the survey, the countries above are highly imbalanced when it comes to putting together work and well-being. While some countries, like Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong (notably some of the world's most expensive cities), have a pretty efficient commute and steady work hours, their scores tend to plummet when it comes to city livability, with residents reporting higher stress scores. 

No Philippine city was included in the study, but we wonder how well we could've ranked.

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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