The 10 Happiest Countries in the World to Teach in

Finland is the happiest country in the world

Have you ever thought about what the happiest country in the world is? Where in the world do the happiest people live? Why are they so happy? And can I teach there?

We have often pondered this, so we thought we should find out!

What do we mean by “the happiest country in the world”?

Every year – since 2012 – the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network publishes a report. This report is titled the World Happiness Report. This report is based on a survey given to at least 1 000 people in 150 countries. This survey asks a question along the lines of:

If you imagine a ladder whose rungs are numbered zero to 10, and zero represents your worst possible life and 10 represents your best, which rung would you be on?.

In other words, people rate their quality of life on a scale from 0 to 10. This includes the areas of GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support, trust and corruption.

What is the happiest country in the world?


Finland is, in fact, the happiest country in the world. It has been for the last four years. Many people speculate that this correlates to the fact that Finland is often ranked as one of the top education systems in the world, but of course, there could be a range of different reasons.

The countries which were found to be the top ten happiest countries of the world in 2021, are:

10. Austria

9. New Zealand

8. Luxembourg

7. Sweden

6. Norway

5. Netherlands

4. Iceland

3. Switzerland

2. Denmark

The UK placed 17th and the US placed 19th – and South Africa a miserable but not surprising 101st.

Why is Finland the happiest country in the world?

What the report has shown is that people are satisfied with their lives when they have a comfortable standard of living, good health and a supportive social network. They trust their government and they feel they have control over their lives. What’s more, so-called happy countries generally have universal health care, affordable childcare and plenty of paid leave.

Interestingly, America has never made it into the top ten, which shows you that happiness levels are not dependent on the wealth of a nation.

Can I teach in one of the happiest countries in the world?

Yes, we know, this is the question we’re all asking. After all, if they’re the happiest countries in the world, why wouldn’t we want to live there? As teachers of English as a Foreign Language, the question then becomes: can I teach English there?

Let’s look at the different options.

Teaching English in Finland

Finland is the land of the Arctic night and the midnight sun. Consistently ranked in the top education systems in the world, being a teacher is a highly respected profession in Finland. As a result, teachers with high qualifications and experience are preferred. TEFL teachers can expect to be freelance teachers working in private language schools or as private tutors.

Read more: 7 Destinations for Solo Travellers

Teaching English in Denmark

Education is a high priority in Denmark. TEFL teachers won’t be able to find a job in mainstream public schools unless they have further teaching qualifications, but there are plenty of international schools and language schools that will accept TEFL-qualified teachers. Denmark consistently ranks in the top countries globally for English language proficiency, so there is stiff competition for jobs, but Denmark is definitely a worthwhile choice for highly qualified and experienced teachers.

Teaching English in Switzerland

Switzerland is a country of snow-capped peaks, chocolate and cuckoo clocks – and a high cost of living! English is valued highly here so there are plenty of jobs in language schools, finishing schools and hotel schools. Most TEFL teachers are freelance, but it’s necessary to secure a job in order to get a work visa, which can make things a bit tricky.

Read more: Teach English in Switzerland

town in Switzerland

Teaching English in Iceland

Teaching jobs in Iceland are mostly at the high school or university level, so a degree is usually required, as well as a teaching qualification or a TEFL certificate. You will be especially attractive if you have a higher degree, like a Master’s, or multiple qualifications and experience.

Teaching English in the Netherlands

If you’re a fan of bicycles, canals, tulips and clogs, then the Netherlands is the place for you. One of the friendliest places to teach, TEFL teachers can try to find work in one of the language schools in the main cities of the country. However, only teachers with an EU passport or eligibility to work in the Netherlands will be able to get a working visa.

Teaching English in Norway

Norway is a winter wonderland, with dramatic fjords, snow-capped peaks and glaciers. The level of English in Norway is relatively high, meaning TEFL jobs are available but they are few and far between. Experience and highly qualified TEFL teachers can apply for jobs in kindergartens, private schools and language schools. A knowledge of Norwegian is preferred.

Teaching English in Sweden

Sweden is the place to go for outdoor enthusiasts. Much warmer than other countries at this altitude, outdoor activities are popular here. As with the other Scandinavian countries, Norway has a high level of English. This is why teachers with experience are preferred. These teachers can look for jobs in the Folkuniversitetet system (the community college) which provides English lessons to Swedes.

buildings in a town in Sweden

Teaching English in Luxembourg

For such a tiny country, there is so much to see and do in Luxembourg, from castles to museums to restaurants in the most idyllic settings. If you are qualified as a teacher as well as a TEFL teacher, it’s possible to find a (lucrative!) job in one of the international schools. TEFL teachers are likely to find work teaching Business English to adults in a language school. EU passports are preferred.

Teaching English in New Zealand

There might be more sheep than people in New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach English there! New Zealand is a naturally stunning country with plenty on offer for the outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. TEFL teachers can find work in language schools or on summer camps.

 Read more: Guide to Teaching English in New Zealand

Teaching English in Austria

Ah, the hills are alive with the sound of music! Yip, music is a big thing in Austria, from classical music to opera to more contemporary musicals. TEFL jobs in Austria are generally well-paid, as a result of the high cost of living. EU passports are preferred.

So yes, it is totally possible to live and teach in one of the happiest countries in the world. But remember, even if you can’t find your perfect job teaching in one of these countries, you can still work as a digital nomad – and work and live wherever you want!

Graphic of different nationalities standing on the globe

The post The 10 Happiest Countries in the World to Teach in appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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