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Where is YOUR Happy Place?

Recently, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network came out with their World Happiness Report 2024.

The media and talking heads love this report because they can use it to continue to drive their various agendas. And, of course, the report lines up nicely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals since, you know, they funded the whole thing.

Happiness, REAL happiness, is not measured by the UN’s criteria. We are not some monolith, acting as one with millions of other people. Rather, happiness is an individual pursuit and feeling, unique to each individual.

Who cares which countries are supposedly the happiest in the world? The important thing is to find YOUR happy place. Unsurprisingly, for most of us that place is nowhere near the Top 10 on the UN’s list. And that is probably a very good thing.

Read on as I question the findings of the World Happiness Report and provide you with some criteria to help you find your “Happy Place” abroad.

World Happiness Report 2024 Findings

Where is YOUR Happy Place?

According to the World Happiness Report 2024, the happiest countries in the world are:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia

Notice anything similar between all these countries? Regardless of location, these are all “Westernized” countries boasting big government, high taxes, and massive spending on social programs.

More specifically, the Nordic countries are held up as the ideal. The World Happiness Report website states that the small, relatively homogenous population of these countries is definitely not a factor in the high social trust and that, in fact, it is the welfare state itself that drives the high social trust, along with high trust in government and democratic institutions.

Additionally, the website states that the cold weather and high suicide rates (all countries were in the top third as of 2019) are not, in fact, correlated to happiness in the Nordic countries. Does that make sense to you? Especially when the data shows that these countries, along with the rest of the Top 10 list, are among some of the highest consumers of anti-depressants in the world? Something’s rotten in Denmark, quite literally.

Where is YOUR Happy Place?

Being from Canada, a country that boasts a welfare-state system itself, I find it hard to believe these countries are the happiest in the world. We have a bloated, corrupt government that seeks to insert itself in every aspect of our lives. Out of control immigration has led to a decreasing GDP per capita and a near-collapse of our essential services. We have the honor of being the highest consumers of anti-depressants in the world (except for perhaps the United States, which this list did not have data for). Social decay is rampant here, and I think the Top 10 are going to find themselves in our shoes before long.

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This article lays out the pros and cons of the Nordic Model and I think it has some great insights. I would suggest the Nordic countries keep a close eye on their aging population, immigration numbers, and government institutions, lest they find themselves following in Canada’s footsteps.

In my opinion, the World Happiness Report is just propaganda used to push the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It’s extremely biased based on what they think should make people happy, which generally revolves around big government, income redistribution, and reduced freedoms. It also happens to also include owning nothing, living in a pod, and eating bugs. Thanks, but no thanks.

What are your Happiness Criteria?

Where is YOUR Happy Place?

Instead of looking to the so-called elites for inspiration and direction, why not build your own happiness criteria to determine which country would make you and your family the happiest? What factors are important to you? What will make you feel at home and contribute to your satisfaction with life?

If you are thinking about leaving your home country and becoming an expat, where to go is going to be the biggest question. Nothing beats on the ground experience, but you can definitely come up with a short-list of countries that look good on paper.

To get you started, I’ve put together some questions you can ask yourself as part of determining your very own “Happiness Criteria” to help you zero in on the most important factors that inspire happiness in your life.

1. Climate:

  • What temperature/humidity levels do you prefer?
  • Do you want all four seasons, a split between dry and rainy, or springlike temperatures all year round?

2. Geography:

  • Do you prefer beach, mountains, plains, jungle?
  • Can you handle high altitudes well?

3. Urban vs. Rural:

  • Do you enjoy living in large, bustling cities or smaller communities?
  • Do you prefer a high-level of privacy and quiet, or do you like being located close to others?

4. Culture:

  • What cultural activities are important to you?
  • What are your must-haves for the overall cultural feel of a society?

5. Religion:

  • Is having a specific place of worship, such as a church or a mosque, important to you?
  • Are you looking to actively connect and build a community with other people with like-minded spiritual interests?

6. Residency/citizenship options:

  • How will you be qualifying for residency – retirement funds, investment, financial solvency?
  • Are the residency options you need available in your target country?
  • Are you hoping to qualify for citizenship by naturalization and is it a viable option?

7. Taxes:

  • What sort of a tax structure are you hoping to set up, if any?
  • Are you looking to reduce or eliminate taxes?
  • Are you looking to move your tax residency? What are the ramifications of that for your current tax situation?

Where is YOUR Happy Place?

8. Accessibility:

  • Are you looking to travel frequently?
  • How important is ease of access to you?

9. Family considerations:

  • What are the must-haves for other family members?
  • Do you need to consider school options for kids?
  • Does your target country revere children and families?

10. Your hobbies:

  • How do you like to spend your time? Hiking, playing soccer, surfing, making art?
  • Are their avenues where you can pursue your interests in your target country?
  • Are you an adventure-seeker? Do you like the arts?

11. Economic and political stability:

  • What is the economy like in your target country?
  • Does the country have energy security, water, and plentiful food?
  • Is their currency stable?
  • Are they making economic improvements or falling behind?
  • Is the country politically stable or experiencing unrest?

12. Healthcare:

  • Are you able to obtain timely, affordable, and quality healthcare?
  • Do you have special medical considerations you need to take into account when considering your care options?

13. Food:

  • What kind of food do you like?
  • Do you have specific foods you want/need access to?

14. Freedom:

  • What freedom indicators are important to you?
  • Will you be free to speak your mind and live your life in peace, without government overreach?
  • Is dissent allowed or discouraged?
  • How did your target country handle the pandemic, and does it align with your stance?

These are some great criteria to start with but, if there are certain things that are really important to you, make sure to add them to your list as you start to work towards finding your happy place.

Define your own Happy Place

Where is YOUR Happy Place?

When it comes down to it, being happy is a very individual thing based around your personal preferences. Your temperament and life situation also play a key role regarding what works and doesn’t work for you. What a globalist organization, such as the UN, feels defines happiness is most likely not going to be the same as what defines it for you and I. So take their “World Happiness Report” with a grain of salt and a heavy dose of skepticism.

Becoming an expat is not a decision that is to be taken lightly. There are many factors you will need to take into account, such as those I listed above, when looking for the country that is right for you. Start taking the time to deeply consider what is most important to you and your family. Get beyond the glossy photos of offshore destinations and into the deeper characteristics – the things that really matter and affect your quality of life. It is there, below the surface and in the mundane day-to-day, that you will find the keys to your happy place.

Looking for some help to make your offshore journey a reality? Make sure you subscribe to Escape Artist Insiders magazine for expert insight, advice, and inspiration on all things offshore. Ready to get to work and find your Happy Place? Subscribe today!

LisaLisa is an aspiring expat from Canada who is working to put together her Plan B with a young family in tow. She is excited to pair her lifelong love of writing with her passion for offshore strategies and outside-the box investments in her weekly articles for Escape Artist readers. Follow this “rebel with a cause” as she walks the path less traveled and shares her experiences along the way.
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