best countries to raise a family
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These Are The Best Countries to Raise a Family, Trust Me

Have you ever thought about the best countries to raise your family?

Choosing the best country to raise a family is a crucial decision. Many factors come into play, such as quality education, safety, cost of living, and even access to playgrounds.

This article explores some of the best countries to raise a family. We’ll discuss into what makes these places stand out, considering aspects like education, safety, healthcare, and even the ease of acquiring citizenship.

Top 5 Family-Friendly Countries 

1. Japan 

Japan

First on our list of best countries to raise a family is Japan. Here’s why:

  • Safe Environment: Ranked second in UNICEF’s “World Around the Child” category (2022), Japan offers traffic safety, green spaces, and low pollution. This translates to a safe environment where children can enjoy freedom.
  • Healthy Upbringing: Japan boasts the lowest rates of child mortality and obesity among developed nations. Clean air and water further contribute to a healthy environment for children.
  • Strong Education: Ranked 12th out of 76 according to UNICEF and OECD assessments, Japan’s education system is known for its quality.
  • Supportive Policies: Working parents benefit from generous parental leave of about 12 months.

Important Note on Citizenship:

Becoming a Japanese citizen is a complex process. Only children with ethnically Japanese parents automatically get citizenship. Others face a lengthy application process. 

Dual citizenship is not allowed. Many immigrants, even permanent residents, choose not to apply due to Japan’s policy against dual citizenship. This requires them to give up their original citizenship.

Japan offers a fantastic environment for raising children. However, citizenship considerations are important for immigrant families. You can read more on citizenship in Japan here.

2. Finland

Finland shines as the number on our list of best countries to raise a family. Here’s what makes it stand out:

  • World-Class Environment for Children: According to UNICEF’s latest report, Finland ranks first in “World of the Child” (focusing on direct child environment) and second in “World Around the Child” (overall child well-being).
  • Safety First: Finland boasts exceptional safety, with one of the world’s lowest child mortality rates (ages 5-14).
  • Top-Ranked Education: This nation is recognized for its high-performing education system, ranking among the best globally in children’s literacy and math skills.

Finland also offers extensive parental leave for legal residents:

  • Shared Leave (14 Months): Both parents can split this leave as needed.
  • Maternity Leave (8 Weeks): Mothers receive dedicated paid leave after childbirth.
  • Optional Childcare Leave (Up to Age 3): Extend your time at home with your child.

To qualify for these benefits, legal residency with health insurance for at least 180 days before childbirth (in Finland or other EU/EEA/Nordic countries) is required.

There’s also the welcome baby package which allows parents to opt for a government-provided baby box filled with essential baby items, or receive an untaxed sum of EUR 140. Public daycare fees are income-based, ranging from EUR 27 (minimum) to EUR 288 (maximum) for the first child and EUR 144 (maximum) for the second.

After living in Finland for 4-7 years and demonstrating proficiency in a local language, you can apply for citizenship. Requirements include:

  • Verifiable Identity
  • Age 18 or Above (or Married)
  • Residency in Finland for 4-7 Years
  • No Outstanding Debts (Taxes, Child Support)
  • Proof of Income Source
  • Clean Criminal Record
  • Proficiency in Finnish, Swedish, or Finnish/Swedish Sign Language

Citizenship applications can be submitted online. Please note that children applying for citizenship must also provide proof of identity.

3. Norway

Norway, a Scandinavian gem, makes our list of the best countries to raise a family. They have:

  • Family-Friendly Environment: Norway boasts a high standard of living, ranking #2 in Raising Children Rankings.
  • Top-Tier Education: The education system focuses on interactive learning, preparing children for the future.
  • Comprehensive Healthcare: All children under 16 receive free healthcare, including dental care, under the Norwegian Health Care Scheme.
  • Safety First: Norway’s outstanding safety record provides peace of mind for families.
  • Early Childhood Education: Children can attend kindergartens from age 1, offering various options based on parental needs.

Simplified Citizenship Path (as of January 2020):

  • No More Renouncing Citizenship: You can now apply for Norwegian citizenship without giving up your original nationality.
  • Residency Requirements:
    • Standard Application: You must have lived in Norway for at least 7 consecutive years.
    • Marriage to a Norwegian Citizen: You must have lived in Norway for at least 3 years.
    • Read more on Norwegian Citizenship

Additional Requirements for Children (Age 2-18):

  • 2+ Years Residency in Norway
  • Valid Residence Permits (minimum 1 year each)
  • For Age 15+: Criminal Record Check
  • Age 12+: Consent to Application (from child)

Requirements for Children (Under Age 2):

  • Current Residency in Norway (with plans to continue)
  • Valid Residence Permit Application or Existing Permit

Related: 10 Birth Tourism Countries

4. Netherlands 

The Netherlands stands out as a leader in child well-being, ranking #1 on UNICEF’s overall list and #1 for children’s mental health. It’s no wonder they make our top countries list for families! They also offer: 

  • Maternity Leave: A generous 16 weeks of fully paid leave for mothers.
  • Paternity Leave: Fathers receive 6 weeks of paid leave.
  • Unpaid Parental Leave: Extend your time at home with your child until they turn eight (unpaid).

These benefits are available to anyone legally working and living in the Netherlands.

Top-Notch Education and Childcare:

  • Ranked #3 and #4 in education and childcare quality, respectively.
  • Child Participation: Schools and childcare providers value children’s voices through children’s councils, fostering open discussions on important topics.

Playful Environment:

  • The Netherlands dedicates 3% of residential areas to playgrounds and similar play spaces, ensuring easy access for children in neighbourhoods.

Path to Citizenship:

  • Two Options: Naturalization (under 1 year) or Option Procedure (easier, 3 months).
  • Important Note: Citizenship generally requires renouncing your current citizenship, with the Option Procedure as an exception.
  • Residency Requirement: A minimum of 5 years of legal residence in the Netherlands is required to apply.
  • More on citizenship in the Netherlands

5. Sweden

Sweden boasts some of the highest child safety standards in the world, offering peace of mind for parents. This is why it’s number 5 on our list of the best countries to raise a family.

  • Top-Notch Education: Swedish schools go beyond academics, fostering creativity and prioritizing the child’s well-being.
  • Universal Healthcare: Everyone under 18 enjoys free, comprehensive healthcare.
  • Family-Focused Support: Sweden champions parental leave (480 days!), gender equality, and affordable childcare (525 free hours per year for children over 3).

Financial Security for Families:

  • The government provides monthly child allowances.
  • College education is free for all residents.
  • Parents can work reduced hours until their child turns eight.

Considering Citizenship?

Sweden welcomes dual citizenship, so you don’t have to give up your current passport. To qualify:

  • Adults: Live in Sweden legally for at least five years, have a permanent residency card, and maintain a good record.
  • Minor Children: Have a permanent residency and live with a parent who is applying for citizenship. Children over 12 must also give their consent.
  • Read more on citizenship in Sweden

Related: 10 Medical Tourism Destinations

Conclusion

Choosing the perfect place to raise a family is a personal decision. While this article offers a list of the top 5 countries to raise your family, consider your specific priorities (healthcare, safety, education, and cost of living, etc.) before making a choice. Tell us in the comments, what do you think are the best countries to raise a family?

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