Planning a Move in 2023? These are the 10 Best European Countries for Expat Women
Updated: Jun 19
If you're planning to move in 2023, you're likely searching for the best country to call your new home. Whether you're looking for a great work-life balance, a welcoming community, or a rich cultural experience, Europe has plenty of attractive options to choose from.
We've taken a closer look, reviewed stats and data to determine the 10 best European countries for expat women to help you make an informed decision about where to move.
From affordable living costs to top-notch healthcare and strong gender equality laws, these ten countries offer a range of benefits that make them attractive destinations for women from around the world.
So if you're ready to start planning your move, read on to discover which European country is the perfect fit for you!
Starting the list with a gem of the Mediterranean – Malta. This island nation has become an increasingly popular destination for women expats over the past few years. The country has a very strong economy and a low unemployment rate, making it a great choice for ambitious women looking for job stability.
With its low cost of living and tax-friendly environment, it allows you to save more of your income. The country boasts a diverse job market with a wide range of opportunities for expats, and plenty of career opportunities in hospitality, finance, gaming, and IT industries. It’s also a great place to start a business, as it has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe (15%).
Malta offers an excellent quality of life, with endless beaches, stunning scenery, and warm weather. The country is also known for its friendly locals and vibrant nightlife.
Highest rankings for: cost of living, personal income tax rate, expat population
Lowest rankings for: healthcare index, quality of life, happiness ranking
Spain is renowned for its warm climate, delicious cuisine, and vibrant culture. It’s an incredibly popular destination for women expats from all over the world, with more than 800,000 foreign residents in 2021.
Despite its high unemployment rate (12.5% in 2022), the country offers plenty of opportunities in finance and IT. Its healthcare system ranks among the best in the world, and its public education system is top-notch. The country also has a low personal income tax rate (18%) and boasts some of the most stunning beaches in Europe. The cost of living is significantly lower than in other European countries, making it easier to save money and live comfortably.
If you decide to move to Spain, just remember to learn the language. Even though English is generally spoken there, learning Spanish will open more career opportunities for you and help you integrate better into the community.
Highest rankings for: cost of living, healthcare index
Lowest rankings for: unemployment rate, happiness index
As the first country that granted women full political rights back in 1906, Finland is a great destination for ambitious women who want to make an impact. This country has one of the most progressive economies in the world and offers plenty of initiatives to support female entrepreneurs. Plus, its healthcare system is excellent and continuously rated among the best in Europe, so you can rest assured knowing that you're in good hands.
And let's not forget the World Happiness Report. Finland is consistently ranked among the top countries for overall happiness, so it's a great spot to build your career and enjoy life.
However, bear in mind that many expats in online forums warn that it's hard to adapt to the Finnish lifestyle due to the complex language, lack of social and leisure activities, and the cold weather, so make sure you do your due diligence before making the move.
Highest rankings for: happiness index, healthcare index, safety index
Lowest rankings for: expat population, personal income tax rate
Known as the “land of opportunity” for women in business, Germany boasts one of the best job markets for ambitious female expats. The country is home to numerous multinational companies and has a robust start-up scene. It has the largest job market in Europe and is known for its excellent public education system. With its strong economy and quality of life, Germany is a great choice for women looking to make a career abroad.
Germany is also home to the most expats in Europe (4.99 million in 2021), so you’re sure to find a community of like-minded people. As an expat-welcoming country, moving to Germany is easier and more accessible than in other EU countries.
Some expats warn that the language barrier might be a challenge, but don’t let it stop you from pursuing your career in Germany. With plenty of language courses and resources available, learning German is not as hard as it seems.
Highest rankings for: low unemployment rate, personal income tax rate
Lowest rankings for: healthcare index
Norway is one of Europe’s most desirable destinations for ambitious women, thanks to its excellent job market and generous welfare system. As a global leader in innovation and technology, it offers plenty of opportunities in the STEM field.
The country also has an incredibly strong economy and boasts some of the highest wages in Europe. With its low corruption levels and focus on sustainability, Norway is a great choice for career-minded women looking to make an impact.
Plus, you can enjoy its stunning nature with endless hiking trails and picturesque fjords.
However, bear in mind that Norway often ranks as one of the most expensive countries to live in. In 2022, it got second place based on the Cost of Living Index in Europe (right behind Switzerland), and sixth in the world. So, considering the costs, you’ll need to calculate whether the move is worth it before taking the plunge.
Highest rankings for: low unemployment rate, personal income tax rate
Lowest rankings for: high cost of living
Denmark is not just a great destination for ambitious women looking to build their career -- it’s also a great place to live. The country consistently ranks among the highest in terms of life satisfaction and happiness, and its robust welfare system helps ensure that everyone has access to essential services.
The job market is diverse and welcoming, and the country boasts strong STEM and financial sectors. Plus, it has an excellent public education system and a wide range of career-building opportunities for expats. Denmark is also known for its high environmental standards and low corruption levels, so you can be sure that your work will have a positive impact.
If you’re looking for an open-minded country that puts gender equality at the heart of its values, Denmark is your place. It has one of the highest percentages of women in leadership positions in Europe and offers plenty of support for working mothers. Plus, it has an excellent social safety net so you can rest assured knowing that you and your family will be taken care of if something unexpected were to happen.
Highest rankings for: happiness index, quality of life, safety index, healthcare index
Lowest rankings for: cost of living, personal income tax rate, expat population
Austria may not be on everyone's radar when choosing career-building destinations, but this beautiful country should not be overlooked by aspiring female professionals! Austria is a great option for ambitious women expats. With its strong economy and low unemployment rate, this country has much to offer ambitious career-seekers. Plus, it offers an excellent quality of life with world-class healthcare and education systems in place. Women can also benefit from generous parental leave policies that are among the most progressive in Europe.
From high salaries and excellent healthcare services to good job prospects and abundant cultural attractions— Austria has it all. Plus Vienna was even named one of the most livable cities in 2020, so what more could you ask for?
Highest rankings for: safety index, healthcare index
Lowest rankings for: personal income tax rate
With the ‘Ministry of Equality between Women and Men' formed in 2015, Luxembourg is the only EU country to have a ministry dedicated solely to gender equality.
This small but mighty country has one of the highest GDP per capita and is often ranked as one of the world's richest countries, which attracts ambitious people from all over the world. Need a proof? According to the latest data, more than 40% of the Luxembourg population are foreigners!
Luxembourg offers plenty of career-building opportunities, from financial services to IT and other fields. Plus, the country has a thriving startup scene with many success stories coming out of it. The job market is highly competitive but also incredibly diverse and inclusive.
Plus, being located between France, Germany, and Belgium, Luxembourg offers a perfect location for ambitious expats looking to explore other countries in the region. Just note that the cost of living is high and that people commonly travel across the border to the grocery shops to stock up on essentials.
Highest rankings for: expat population, happiness index
Lowest rankings for: cost of living
#2 The Netherlands
The Netherlands is an attractive destination for ambitious female expats due to its excellent job market and friendly locals. With a low unemployment rate (3.8% in 2021) and plenty of opportunities for career advancement, the Netherlands is ideal for career-minded job seekers looking to take their careers to the next level.
The Netherlands is well known for its liberal attitudes and progressive government policies. It's a great choice if you're looking for professional growth abroad—especially if you're interested in tech or innovation. With its welcoming culture and strong economy, this small but mighty country offers plenty of opportunities for ambitious expat women wanting to make their mark on the world stage! Plus, they offer a 30% ruling for expats for whooping five years, meaning you can save some serious money while you're there.
Highest rankings for: quality of life, happiness index
Lowest rankings for: expat population
Switzerland is a powerhouse when it comes to career opportunities for ambitious female expats. With its highly attractive salaries, low unemployment rate, and excellent infrastructure, Switzerland offers plenty of opportunities for professional growth. Plus, with one of the highest GDP per capita in Europe, you can rest assured knowing that your money will go even further here!
Switzerland is known for its multicultural society, so you'll fit right in with the locals. Plus, its thriving tech industry provides plenty of opportunities for ambitious female professionals. It's also a great spot to explore Europe with many countries just a few hours away by train.
But remember that Switzerland is notorious for its high cost of living, even by European standards. So, make sure to budget accordingly.
Highest rankings for: safety index, unemployment rate, expat population
Lowest rankings for: high cost of living
How to decide which country is best for you?
Choosing the right country for your expat experience is an important decision. It’s wise to spend some time researching each of these countries and their job markets.
You should also consider each country’s cost of living and quality of life, and decide how they fit into your goals and lifestyle. After all, you want to make sure that your move abroad is a positive experience both professionally and personally.
Some things you should consider before moving are:
job opportunities in your field,
salary and benefits offered,
cost of living,
quality of life,
your goals and
How to prepare for the move to another country?
Once you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to start preparing for the move. Follow these tips to ensure a smooth transition:
Sort out all the necessary paperwork. Taking care of paperwork in advance will save you any headaches down the line. This includes visas, work permits, and other documents required for your stay abroad.
Prepare for the job search. Update your resume and prepare for interviews. You should also research the job market and companies in your destination to get an idea of what types of opportunities are available. Follow this guide if you want to land a job abroad before moving.
Find accommodation. Research different neighborhoods and compare prices to find the perfect place for you. Having a place to stay before you arrive will help make the move much easier.
Budget accordingly. Make sure you have enough money saved up to cover the cost of the move and your first few months in your new home.
Research the local culture and customs. Understanding the cultural norms of your destination will help you fit in more quickly and make new friends easily. With any move, you can expect to experience some culture shock, but research can help minimize this.
Make connections. Connect on social media and attend networking events to meet other expats and locals. Moving to a city where you know at least a few people can make the whole experience much more enjoyable and help you feel more at home.
Learn the language. Before you move, try to learn the basics of the language and continue building your language skills. This will help you navigate your new home more easily and make your daily life much easier.
Europe is an ideal destination for ambitious women expats who want to further their careers abroad. With its diverse cultures, booming economies, and generous parental leave policies, there are plenty of countries that offer excellent opportunities for career building.
From Malta to Switzerland, these 10 best European countries will provide you with the perfect backdrop for a successful career abroad.
Do some research, determine which country best suits your needs and goals, and prepare for the move. With the right preparation, you’ll be well on your way to achieving success in Europe.
Ready to start your job search? Land a job abroad before moving in 10 simple steps.
Want to land a job faster? Explore seven alternative job search methods.
Why do you want to work abroad? Prepare for international interviews and learn how to explain personal reasons for wanting to move abroad in a professional way.
Get instant access to career-propelling tools. Explore our shop and get career tools that will help you achieve your career goals.
Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin
Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying and career-changing jobs.