Nordic Nations Dominate Sustainable Expat Living Report

Nordic Nations Dominate Sustainable Expat Living Report
Expats looking for a new sustainable home base should look to the Nordic countries, according to the latest Expat Insider survey from InterNations.

Finland, Sweden, Norway fill the top three places in the environment & sustainability ranking, with Denmark placing 6th. The U.K. placed 28th while the U.S. placed 30th.
InterNations asked over 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries to rate 65 different aspects of life abroad.

The environment & sustainability ranking looked at three measures: quality of environment, policies & people, and products & utilities. Finland, Sweden and Norway all placed in the top five of each subcategory.

Government decisions praised

In both Finland and Norway, 89% of expats surveyed think that the government supports policies to protect the environment. That compares with a global average of just 55%.

In Finland, 90% were happy with the local waste management and recycling efforts, much higher than the global average of 60%. The country is a global leader in recycling bottles and paper, while a nationwide deposit scheme leads to a return rate for almost 100% for refillable glass bottles.

Expats not bothered by Norway’s green paradox

While there is an obvious question mark over Norway’s oil and gas industry when it comes to sustainability, the overwhelming majority of expats surveyed praised government policies on the environment.

The report comes just a week after Norway announced a $2.7 billion plan to develop carbon capture and storage technology.

An InterNations spokesperson says that the report was based on responses from expats, so hard data about subjects like Norway’s oil and gas exports were not taken into account.

The spokesperson says that expats not employed in the industry may be more likely to notice the country’s domestic reliance on hydropower:

“In August 2020, hydropower supplied almost 94% of Norway’s domestic electricity needs. In this light, the survey results may reflect expats’ perception of Norway’s environmental policies, as based on their personal experience, rather than whether or not this excellent reputation is actually warranted.”

Enjoying an outdoors lifestyle

In addition to taking the overall title, Finland also ranked first in the quality of environment subcategory. Almost all respondents spoke positively of Finland’s water, sanitation and air quality.

One South Korean expat living in Finland specifically mentions “nature, clean water, and air” as what she likes most about life in Finland.

It was a similar story in Norway, where a Ukrainian expat said that “the beautiful nature, the clean air and tap water, and the focus on the environment” are what she enjoys most about the country.

These positive environmental characteristics help fuel the region’s friluftsliv, the fresh air lifestyle that defines much about life in northern Europe.


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