Why Germany’s quality of life is so good

Why Germany’s quality of life is so good

by Laura Jones

Updated September 22, 2023

Germany is known and admired for many things, from its robust economy to its world-class beer. But recently, Germany has become known for its outstanding quality of life, and increasing numbers of people are moving there to experience its high standard of living. But what makes life in Germany so amazing? Is it job security, healthcare, safety or proximity to nature? For some, it’s all of the above!  Here is why Germany’s quality of life is so good. 

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Germany and the OECD Better Life Index

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index gauges the well-being of people in different countries based on various factors, ranging from housing to environmental quality. Germany’s quality of life ranking indicates a high standard of living and good overall well-being for its residents.

Germany scores above average in many areas of the Better Life Index, including work-life balance, environmental quality and safety. 

Education, jobs and work-life balance

Germany is renowned for its strong economic performance, which is reflected in the Better Life Index statistics. Employment is high, with around 77% of people aged 15 to 64 in Germany working a paid job (the OECD employment average is 66%). Germans also enjoy a relatively high amount of disposable income; at $38,972 per year, it’s higher than the OECD average.

This is all balanced on top of an excellent education system, with 86% of adults ages 25 to 64 having completed secondary education. Germany topped the world education rankings in 2023 thanks to its high literacy rate, focus on innovation and concentration on practical skills. 

The country is also highly regarded for offering employees a good work-life balance. Workers in Germany get a minimum of 20 days of paid holiday leave per year and can work a maximum of eight hours per day (with certain exceptions). 

However, it’s not all rosy in Germany in terms of work-life balance. A 2022 survey of four countries revealed that people in Germany work longer hours and have less free time than their counterparts in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Poland.  

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Health and safety

The healthcare system in Germany is generally excellent. Health insurance is mandatory, ensuring almost universal coverage, and life expectancy in the country is just over 81 years, which is average in the OECD. Meanwhile, air pollution in Germany is lower than the OECD average. 

Germany is also considered a relatively safe place to live. In 2023, it ranked 15 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index. Homicide rates in Germany are low, and over three-quarters of Germans report feeling safe walking the streets alone at night. 

Society and lifestyle

Money, jobs, health and safety are all critical factors contributing to quality of life. But social and lifestyle factors also matter. 

On average, Germans have a reasonably strong support network. 90% of people in Germany say they have someone to turn to in times of need, putting Germany in line with the OECD average.  

When it comes to lifestyle, Germany is a diverse country with a decades-long history of welcoming people from all over the world. This has resulted in a multicultural society that celebrates a variety of traditions.  

However, there are a few common factors Germans tend to share. Many Germans enjoy traveling internationally, with Germany spending more per capita on foreign travel than any other country in Europe. Staying active is also important to many Germans, with one-third belonging to a sports club or organization.  

Quality of life: Germany vs. USA

A quick internet search will bring up tons of articles and videos comparing the quality of life in Germany versus the United States of America. Usually, the conclusion is that Germany has a better quality of life than the US. That certainly rings true in many areas. Germany’s policies on paid holiday leave, sick leave and parental leave are all generous compared to the US. 

In terms of safety, Germany comes out on top again. The US homicide rate in 2021 was 7 per 100,000 people compared to Germany’s 1 per 100,000 people. Gun violence is rare in Germany, and healthcare is far more reasonably priced. 

But this may not tell the whole story. On the Better Life Index, the US scores better than Germany in terms of educational attainment, disposable income and air pollution levels. 

Best cities in Germany for quality of life

On Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey, Munich ranked as the best place to live in Germany. It is the safest large city in Germany and offers a wealth of economic opportunities. Almost 40% of Munich’s population has a non-German background, so people who move to the city from outside Germany won’t feel out of place — even if they don’t speak German.

Other German cities to make it into Mercer’s top ten were Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. Both have strong economies, and Frankfurt was ranked as the city with the best infrastructure in the world

Experience a high quality of life in Germany

For those considering a move, Germany’s high quality of life is attractive. The range of job opportunities and high salaries mean that people can generally find sound footing economically. Add to that excellent public healthcare, a decent work-life balance and a population that feels safe, and Germany is a very attractive destination indeed.

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Laura Jones

Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio.

Laura Jones

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