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Expat Families: Austria is Most Popular Country

Published: September 22, 2015; 18:30 · (Vindobona)

Not only the Nordic Countries are popular with expat families. Austria, Israel and New Zealand are also among the preferred destinations for families. According to the Family Life Index 2015 by InterNations, Austria is the most popular country among expat families. While Finland and Sweden, ranking second and third, impress with the cost and availability of childcare and education, Israel and New Zealand in 4th and 5th place respectively, rank especially high when it comes to the general well-being of expat families.

Expat Families: Austria is Most Popular Country / Picture: © FACC

Austria, Israel and New Zealand in the Top 5 for Families Abroad

The Best and Worst Countries for Family Life Abroad

This year, Austria comes first in the Family Life Index, moving up from fourth place in 2014.

Its top ranking is only partly due to its outstanding availability of childcare and education.

Expat parents in Austria are also highly satisfied with the cost and quality of education in the country, with an impressive 82 and 92 percent, respectively, rating those factors favorably.

Children’s health and safety, available leisure activities for kids and family life in general also all did remarkably well, receiving positive responses from 95 percent of respondents or more.

Austria truly shines in regard to children’s well-being, with all of the respondents rating it positively, without exception.

Finland comes in first for quality of education, which helps to secure a solid second place overall in the Family Life Index for the destination: a positive rating was given for this factor by 92 percent of the expat parents in Finland. Sweden follows in third place in the overall ranking. This Scandinavian country takes the top spot when it comes to cost of childcare and education, and it also comes in at a respectable second place regarding the availability of childcare and education. However, Sweden fell from 14th to 21st place for the quality of education and from 3rd to 10th place for family well-being, compared to last year’s ranking. Israel and New Zealand in 4th and 5th place, respectively, show similarly high results with regard to family well-being and the availability of childcare and education, but lose somewhat concerning costs and quality of education.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is perceived to be the worst place for expat parents to raise a family: 16 percent of expat families are generally dissatisfied with their children’s general well-being and two percent are even completely unhappy with this factor. Brazil, Turkey, Qatar and Oman also rank in the bottom five of the Family Life Index in 2015.

Costs versus Quality of Education

It seems that it is almost impossible to have it all as far as childcare and education are concerned.

For example, Denmark is in 9th place for the availability of childcare and education and even ranks among the global top 5 for the costs involved.

However, it only ranks 35thout of 41 countries for the quality of education, along with countries such as Thailand, Oman and Turkey.

On the other hand, Switzerland is among the top 5 countries for the quality of education, but drops to the 35th and 36th position, respectively, for the costs and availability of childcare and schooling.

Actually, almost two-thirds of expat parents in Switzerland are dissatisfied with the availability of childcare in general and 23 percent of them even say they are not satisfied at all.

Furthermore, only seven percent of the expat parents view the cost of childcare in Switzerland favorably, as compared to a global average of 42 percent.

International versus Local Schools

Expat parents around the world have a variety of preferences regarding the type of education that their children receive abroad.

International schools are the most popular choice, with 34 percent of parents choosing this as their preferred option for their children.

An international education is particularly popular in countries where the language barrier may be more challenging for expat children, such as Uganda (66 percent), Kenya (65 percent), Saudi Arabia (65 percent) and China (64 percent).

In contrast, less than 10 percent of expat parents choose international schools in most English-speaking countries. In general, sending children to local state schools is preferred by 30 percent of expat parents, followed by local private schools at 20 percent.

Some expat parents also choose a national school abroad, such as a “Deutsche Schule” or “Lycée Français”.

Homeschooling, on the other hand, is a very rare choice, with only four out of 100 expat parents deciding on this option.