Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index 2022
The infographic above displays the top 10 countries that have the highest quality of life based on Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index 2022 Mid-Year (by country). The index covered 87 countries and regions for this period.
Numbeo determines the quality of life in a city/country by considering the following eight aspects of life:
- Purchasing power
- House price to income ratio
- Cost of living
- Health care
- Traffic commute time
Numbeo is an online database that provides statistics for cost of living, crime rates, quality of life and others. It collects data from user surveys as well as from authoritative sources such as supermarkets websites and governmental institutions. Typically, Numbeo collects data for a city and aggregates the results for a country. Click here to view the full Quality of Life Index by city.
To obtain more accurate results, its system filters noise data possibly sent by spams. However, Numbeo’s data is not peer-reviewed; hence it can be inaccurate or at risk of manipulation. That said, it can give a partial picture of the current landscape of the world.
Below, we will look through each index to figure out trends, commonalities, and differences among the top 10 countries.
Before We Begin…
Please note that I use the term “the global average/the world’s average” to refer to the average of the 87 countries. However, “the global/the world’s average” here would not necessarily reflect the actual situation of the world. This is because there are 195 countries in the world but less than half of them are considered in Numbeo’s rankings.
Purchasing Power Index | Australia Has the Strongest Purchasing Power
Numbeo’s Purchasing Power Index (including rent) is relative to New York City, meaning NYC has 100(%) for this index. As discussed above, users input data for their cities, and then all entries for all cities in a country are aggregated to calculate average data for the country.
The figure shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services including rent in a given city for the average net salary in the city. If a city has a purchasing power index of 60, residents in that city with an average salary can afford 40% less goods and services than NYC residents. This means the higher the figure, the more the residents in that city can afford compared to residents in NYC. Generally, the higher the Purchasing Power Index, the better the quality of life.
The average score of the 87 countries for this index was 56.98. On the other hand, the average score of the top 10 countries was 95.58. In other words, people in the top 10 countries can buy more goods and services with their average salary than the average people in the world.
Australia received the highest score (117.56) for this index in the top 10 countries. This figure was the second highest after 118.94 of the United Arab Emirates in all the 87 countries. The UAE was at the 11th in the Quality of Life Index rankings.
Pollution Index | Finland Is the Least Polluted
Pollution Index estimates the overall level of pollution in a city/country. Most of the data used in this index are based on surveys from visitors of Numbeo website. Visitors contribute to this index by answering questions similar to those asked in other scientific and government surveys. Some of the questions are:
- Satisfaction with air quality
- Feeling of being comfortable to spend time in the city because of the pollution.
In addition to surveys, it also uses relevant data from other organizations such as the World Health Organization to work out scores.
Air pollution carries the biggest weight followed by water pollution and accessibility in the process. The scores are between 0 and 100, with 0 being the least polluted and 100 the most polluted. In other words, the lower the score, the less polluted. Residents in a city/country with the lower scores have a better quality of life.
The global average score of Pollution Index was 53.00, while the top 10 average was 20.92. All the top 10 countries received scores much lower than the global average. Notably, Finland‘s score (12.02) was the lowest in the whole rankings. This Nordic country plays as the global leader in environmental policy and sustainable development.
Safety Index | Top 10 May Not Be as Safe
Safety Index assesses the overall level of safety in a city/country. It also uses the scale between 0 and 100, with 0 being the least safe and 100 the safest. In short, the higher the score of Safety Index, the better quality of life. Just like the Pollution Index, it is largely based on surveys from the website visitors. Some of the questions are:
- How serious you feel the level of crime is
- Feeling of safety walking during daylight/night
- How worried are you of being mugged or robbed.
The global average score for Safety Index was 59.09, compared to 68.61 of the top 10 countries. Among the top 10 countries, Australia and New Zealand had the relatively lower scores: 55.17 and 55.39, respectively. On the other hand, the highest score achieved among the top 10 was 77.88 of Switzerland. This was the sixth highest score in the 87 countries and regions.
The other members of the top 10 countries in the overall Quality of Life Index did not make the list of the 10 safest countries. The 10 safest countries according to Numbeo were: Qatar, UAE, Taiwan, Oman, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan, Slovenia, Croatia, and Estonia.
However, these results may not be accurate especially when Australia and New Zealand are among regular top members in other safest countries rankings. Possibly, ambiguity of “safety” could have affected the results—when experiencing the similar incidences, some might find it more unsafe, while others might not find it that unsafe. Surveys also largely depend on personal experiences and circumstances, which may not necessarily reflect the safety level of the entire country.
Health Care Index | Iceland Lags behind
Health Care Index estimates the overall quality of health care system, health care professionals, equipment, staff, doctors, cost, etc. The index is derived from surveys which ask questions like below:
- Skill and competency of medical staff
- Speed in completing examination and reports
- Friendliness and courtesy of the staff.
The index gives a city/county a score between 0 and 100. The higher the score, the better the health care system is in the city/country, hence the better the quality of life.
The world’s average score for this index was 64.45, while the top 10 average was 75.08. Although all the top 10 countries received scores higher than the global average, the score of Iceland was relatively lower at 66.61. Denmark had the highest score at 79.77, followed by Australia at 77.76, in the top 10 club.
Overall, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan had the highest scores in the 87 countries for this index. Their scores were 86.04, 83.04, and 80.52, respectively.
Cost of Living Index | Too Expensive to Live in Top 10 Countries?
Similarly to the Purchasing Power Index, Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index is relative to New York City (NYC). For instance, if a city has a score of 120 for Cost of Living Index, it means the cost of living in the city is 20% more expensive than that of NYC. For this index, the lower the score, the better the quality of life.
It includes consumer goods prices such as groceries, restaurants, transportation, and utilities, except for rent and mortgage. Surveys ask visitors prices of a wide range of items including the following:
- McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)
- Milk (regular)
- One-way Ticket (Local Transport).
The global average score for Cost of Living Index was 48.00, compared to 75.24 of the top 10 countries. All the top 10 countries exceeded the global average by a large margin. The lowest score among the 10 countries was 59.62 of Germany, followed by 63.75 of Finland. On the other hand, residents in Switzerland may have to spend more than New Yorkers—the country’s score was 110.30, which was also the highest in the world.
House Price to Income Ratio | Property Might Be Still Affordable in the Top 10
Although there are many ways to calculate this ratio, Numbeo calculates House Price to Income Ratio as the ratio of median apartment prices to median familial disposable income. It defines net disposable family income as 1.5 × the average net salary. Median apartment size is 90 square meters.
The ratio becomes lower if the household disposable income is higher and property prices are lower. This means the lower the ratio, the better the quality of life.
The global average House Price to Income Ratio was 13.34, whilst the average ratio of the top 10 was 7.98. As far as the top 10 are concerned, Australia received the lowest score of 5.60, while Austria endured the highest score of 10.88. Still, the top 10 countries might be the better places in the world to earn and buy a property.
Traffic Commute Time Index | Iceland Tops the Rankings
Traffic Commute Time Index consists of several indices regarding traffic. Time Index assesses the time needed to transport, Time Exp. Index estimates the level of dissatisfaction due to long commute times, and Inefficiency Index assesses inefficiencies in the traffic. Additionally, CO2 Emission Index estimates the CO2 consumption due to the traffic time.
Surveys ask questions including the following, along with visitors’ employment and main mean of transport:
- How long do you commute (spend in traffic) ONE WAY to your job or school?
The lower the score, the better the traffic in the city/country. Therefore, the lower the score of Traffic Commute Time Index, the higher the quality of life.
The average of the 87 countries was 35.74, compared to 27.98 of the top 10 countries. No country in the top 10 scored higher than the global average. Of all 87 countries, Iceland tops the rankings with a score of 19.96, followed by Oman at 22.63 and Cyprus at 23.14.
On the other hand, residents in Australia may spend a lot more time than those in the other top 10 countries. The score of Australia was 34.68, standing at 44th globally.
Climate Index | New Zealand Leads the Top 10
Climate Index evaluates the likability of a city/country using the range between -100 to 100. The value 100 indicates the city/country has a moderate temperature and low humidity without any weather condition that most people do not prefer. In short, the higher the score of Climate Index, the better the quality of life.
However, this index also entails ambiguity—some people may prefer warmer climate, cooler climate, humid condition, etc. Additionally, these conditions may not necessarily lower the quality of life, unless they affect people’s life.
The score for this index is calculated by using the following average values:
- Temperature: minimum average and maximum average
- Dewpoint: minimum average and maximum average
- Other weather conditions.
For Climate Index, the global average and the top 10 average were quite close: 78.25 and 79.27, respectively. New Zealand leads the top 10 countries for this index with a score of 96.36. This was the 9th highest value in the 87 countries.
In contrast, the following 4 countries scored below the global average: Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Austria. Their scores were 56.64, 68.81, 68.68, and 77.15, respectively. Probably, the cooler climate in these Nordic countries lowered their scores.
Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index Mid-Year 2022 covered 87 countries and regions. Focusing on the top 10 countries, this article briefly examined each of the eight indices that compose the Quality of Life Index. The eight indices are: Purchasing Power Index, Pollution Index, House Price to Income Ratio, Cost of Living Index, Safety Index, Health Care Index, Traffic Commute Time Index, and Climate Index.
Slicing down the index, the top 10 countries achieved the better performance for all the indices but one. Particularly, the top 10 club outperformed extraordinarily well in Purchasing Power Index and Pollution Index. The gap between the average scores of the top 10 and the world exceeded 30 points in these indices.
However, all of them underperformed in Cost of Living Index. Especially, residents in Switzerland spend a lot more on goods and services than the others.
Some of the results may not be accurate due to the method in which data was collected. Likewise, some of the indices may not reflect the condition appropriately due to its ambiguity. That said, Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index can be useful as a snapshot of cities/countries.
It is worth noting that most of these 10 countries also made the list of the most prosperous countries and the best countries to retire. They also appeared among the top countries in the UN Human Development Index.