Expats' favourite countries to raise children
When relocating as a family, there are a lot of considerations and decisions to be made. It’s a big step for children to go to another country and make it their new home, so it’s important that there is a good network and community that will help them to make friends and feel welcome from the outset.
Schooling is the primary issue, and a decision will usually have to be made between state schools and international schools, which means balancing the associated fees and the quality of education. Healthcare is also important, as it’s essential to have a good plan in place in case any family member falls ill. Other things to think about include whether there will be a language barrier, what kind of facilities and amenities there are, and finding suitable accommodation.
There are some countries where family life as an expat is particularly favourable. Here we round up some of the best places to raise children around the world as an expatriate.
This Scandinavian country often ranks highly when it comes to family friendliness (it is first for family in the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey). For expats, it’s a good option for those who want to make significant advancements in their career, but also raise children in a country that values the environment, is financially stable and offers good childcare and education options. For those staying long-term, the public schooling system is very good and free of charge, and can even offer extra Swedish classes to help learn the language. For shorter-term contracts, there are also international schools available, but it’s worth bearing in mind that homeschooling is illegal. Expats can also access the public healthcare system, which is inexpensive and waiting times are limited by law. Otherwise, the quality of living is high, with wide open spaces to run around in, an efficient public transport system, English is widely spoken and there is a good community spirit.
One of the most popular places for expat families to relocate to from the UK. The weather is, of course, one of the major draws, as the long sunny days encourage an outdoor-based lifestyle. There are so many activities on offer that children can be kept busy, active and entertained in the parks, beaches and other amenities. The fact that there is no language barrier means that integration is easier, and there are large pockets of British expat communities too. It has a very high standard of education and for those on long-term contracts, the public school system is accessible. Schools are allocated on a catchment system basis, which can determine an area to settle in. Private medical insurance is usually needed for expats, but this gives access to world-class facilities and services.
While it might not be one that immediately springs to mind, Belgium scored highly in a survey by InterNations, coming 9th in the Family Life Index for 2016. It offers very good schooling and childcare, which is one of its biggest draws for expat families. For those who want their children to really get immersed in the local culture, the excellent public schools teach lessons in Dutch, French or German, depending on the region. But for older children who might find it harder to adapt, or who are nearing important exams, then there are international schools that follow the British curriculum, which are also of great quality. Healthcare is part of the country’s social security system and is well regarded in Europe, with a high number of hospitals and doctors. Private medical insurance is usually taken out by expats to claim back some of the costs of care.