Family-friendly countries for expats with children

When a family has to move abroad for any period of time, the most common quality that they look for is a safe, healthy, and welcoming environment for their children. This is hardly surprising. Children have the most to lose and the most to gain from moving to a new country. If it goes badly, then their natural anxiety about emigrating could be confirmed, leaving them fearful of new experiences and strange environments. No parent wants their child to get a substandard education, feel isolated and oppressed, or be in physical danger.

More usually, however, living abroad is an immensely rewarding and positive experience for young children. They’ll gain invaluable exposure to a new culture, be able to explore a different landscape, and will gain in knowledge, confidence and, of course, language skills. Children who have lived abroad tend to be more open-minded and adaptable, qualities that will serve them well in later life.

Where are the countries that are most likely to provide a positive experience for expat families with young children? The following nations consistently feature in lists of the best places to bring up kids abroad.


This Asian city-state is extremely popular with expats for several reasons. One is that most report a significant increase in their spending power after moving here to work; another is how safe and child-friendly the country is. Restaurants and entertainment venues at all levels welcome children, and they can walk safely to school or play in the many green parks. Singapore also scores highly for education. An international school there will provide a top-quality education for your children.

New Zealand

This antipodean paradise also scored highly for safety and for its beautiful unspoilt countryside where children can lead healthy active lives and learn to love outdoor pursuits. NZ is friendly, with a relaxed, uncompetitive school system, and the unpolluted air and water contribute to the overall sense of wellbeing that expats report finding there.


The social system in Sweden very much favors families, and the high quality of early years care is one of the many things that expat parents love about the country. Childcare benefits are also extremely generous, while the healthy lifestyle routinely enjoyed by its citizens contributes to the sense of a well-balanced country that will produce well-adjusted, happy children.


Like Sweden, Austria’s social system looks after families well, with state-subsidized kindergartens and paid parental leave among the big attractions for expat families thinking of settling there. Most would head for the capital city of Vienna, with its well-appointed parks and many child-friendly amenities, including dedicated stroller spots on the buses.


Japan has always scored highly for public safety, so it’s little wonder that many expat families report that this is a great place to bring up kids. The country doesn’t have the large expat community to be found in Hong Kong or Singapore, so some report that it can feel quite isolating. However, once you adjust, there’s so much for kids to explore, from the bustle of hi-tech cities and their attractions to the wide open spaces and peaceful parks.

If you’re thinking of moving abroad with children, these are just some of the countries that might welcome you with open arms.

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