Which are the safest countries to live in the world? We’ve crunched the data to create the Where Can I Live Safest Countries to Live Index. We use official statistics for the definitive list of the safest places to move to. We measure the risk of violence, crime rates, healthcare, societal stability, and natural disasters.
- The Top 20 Safest Countries to Live In
- The Safest Countries to live in Europe
- The Safest Countries to live in Asia
- The Safest Countries to live in Central & South America
- The Safest countries in Africa
- The Safest Places to live in the Middle East
- The Best of the Rest
- 7 Safest and Cheapest Places to Live in the World
- The Safest and Happiest Countries in the World
- How did we choose the safest place to live in the world?
- What are the limitations of the data?
- The 7 most dangerous countries to live
- Want to move to the safest place to live in the world?
- FAQ – Safest Country to Live Index
- Appendix 1 – Index Methodology
- Appendix 2 – Where Can I Live Rankings of 139 countries with complete data
The Top 20 Safest Countries to Live In
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic
Our new index kicked up some surprises for the safest place to live in the world! What wasn’t a surprise is that many of the Top 20 also make our list of the best countries for Expats.
The Safest Countries to live in Europe
The top five are from Northern Europe and the Nordics and have topped the table for many years.
- Iceland (Where Can I Live Rank 2)
- Denmark (3)
- Finland (4)
- Switzerland (5)
- Norway (6)
As a continent, Europe tops our rankings by far and is the safest place to live in the world. Fifteen of the top 20 countries are from Europe, and twelve are European Union (E.U.) member nations.
What do these countries have in common?
They all have stable governance, are relatively prosperous, and have lower levels of inequality than other comparable economies. Their spending on healthcare, education, and modern thinking on crime prevention all contribute. After a terrible early impact, the general response to the COVID-19 pandemic was strong.
As a continent, Europe suffers from fewer natural disasters than other parts of the world.
The cultures range widely, from the Nordics to the Mediterranean. Population sizes vary considerably, from Iceland, with just 300,000 citizens, to 84 million in Germany.
All are democracies, although some still have constitutional monarchies.
The Safest Countries to live in Asia
- Singapore (Where Can I Live Rank 1)
- Japan (10)
- South Korea (21)
- Malaysia (33)
- Vietnam (48)
Five diverse Asian powerhouses head up the list. Singapore and Japan have been in the Top 20 for many years and look set to continue.
The Safest Countries to live in Central & South America
- Uruguay (Where Can I Live Rank 31)
- Costa Rica (36)
- Chile (40)
- Argentina (44)
- Panama (49)
Uruguay continues to build a reputation as a secure Expat destination. Costa Rica’s demilitarized policy definitely contributes to its excellent reputation.
The Safest countries in Africa
- Mauritius (Where Can I Live Rank 39)
- Botswana (56)
- Tunisia (65)
- Ghana (66)
Mauritius is another destination attracting growing numbers of Expats. In no small part, this is because of the safe and stable society. Botswana has long been a stable democracy with strong growth.
The Safest Places to live in the Middle East
- Qatar (Where Can I Live Rank 22)
- Kuwait (38)
- United Arab Emirates (42)
The countries of the Middle East come with a strong caveat. LGBTQI+ and women face different dangers. All potential Expats should consider the societal and legal norms of these countries.
The Best of the Rest
- New Zealand (Where Can I Live Rank 13)
- Canada (16)
- Australia (19)
New Zealand and Australia have long-standing reputations as safe and stable democracies. Both countries do have areas at risk of natural disasters. Australia is one of the countries most likely to be negatively impacted by climate change.
Canada also has areas at high risk of natural disasters, but rates strongly in most other areas.
7 Safest and Cheapest Places to Live in the World
We used the Where Can I Live Cheapest Countries to Live Index for this list. To qualify, countries must be in the Top 50 Safest countries and the Top 60 Cheapest Countries. Here are the results, ranked by safety.
|#||Country||WCIL Safest Index Rank||WCIL Cheapest Index Rank||Cost of Living vs USA||Cost of Living vs Germany|
The Safest and Happiest Countries in the World
We cross-referenced our data for the Safest Countries with the renowned World Happiness Report 2022. The result confirmed our suspicions – being safe has a big impact on happiness. The Top 5 Happiest Countries in the world all rank in our Top 15 Safest countries to live.
- Finland (4th Safest Country to Live)
- Denmark (3rd Safest Country to Live)
- Iceland (2nd Safest Country to Live)
- Switzerland (5th Safest Country to Live)
- Netherlands (12th Safest Country to Live)
And is the USA a safe place to live?
The United States of America (U.S.A.) comes in at position fifty-eight. A high prosperity score is offset by lower scores from the Global Peace Index and higher environmental risks.
The environmental risk figure may be misleading. The USA has a massive range of environments, so Florida’s hurricanes, California’s wildfires, Texan droughts, and Mississippi floods are all counted.
How did we choose the safest place to live in the world?
We looked at the four most important factors for your personal safety. We researched each element’s most respected and up-to-date statistics, giving us our index. Please see Appendix 1 for our detailed methodology.
1) Crime and Violence
The first pillar of our Safest Countries to Live Index is the most important. Are citizens under threat from people in their own country? This takes in crime rate, homicide and other violent crime rates, terrorist threats, and more.
Our source for Crime and Violence Statistics
- The internationally recognized 2022 Global Peace Index was produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP).
- The US State Department Travel Advisory (As of October 2022).
2) Healthcare and Health Outcomes
Being safe from disease and preventable death is the next pillar of our index. Critically, if you fall ill, there is an accessible, high-quality healthcare system to support you. A disease that is trivial in Portugal may be fatal in Afghanistan.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest current global health challenges. We use COVID-19 vaccination rates to measure a country’s resilience to the disease.
Our source for Healthcare and Health Outcomes
- The health pillar of the Legatum Prosperity Report for 2021 measures health outcomes, mortality rates, illness, and health system quality.
- We use the country-level COVID-19 vaccination rate data collated by Our World in Data.
3) Governance and Living Conditions
“A hungry man is an angry man.” is a wise old proverb. Countries with strong government institutions and living conditions tend to develop less crime and civil unrest. A prosperous and equitable economy is a good indication of a country’s future safety and security.
Note: This ranking does not look at democracy and freedom. It only ranks stability as a measure of safety. For this reason, some countries with low democratic scores can still rank highly.
Our source for Governance and Living Conditions
The 2021 Legatum Prosperity index is our source for this information. The Legatum Institute is a globally recognized researcher in global prosperity for policy direction. We combine the Governance and Living Conditions pillars.
4) Natural Disaster Risk and Readiness
Floods, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and earthquakes are all major safety risks. The readiness of a country to respond to these natural disasters is vital to minimize the impact.
Climate change is accelerating many extreme weather events globally. With global heating trends set to continue, the importance of this risk will grow in the coming years.
Our source for ecological threat nation disaster response readiness
The 2022 Global Risks Report is produced by the World Economic Forum (W.E.F.).
What are the limitations of the data?
We think our index is the most well-balanced view of how safe a country is. However, it isn’t perfect… Here’re the things we know should be considered.
- Not all countries and territories in the world are represented. We’ve excluded countries where data is incomplete or unreliable. This mainly impacts smaller countries, including many in the Caribbean.
- We don’t look at the risk range of a country. What does that mean?
- Expats in Panama report being very relaxed in many areas of the country. However, parts of Colón and the Darién Gap are exceptionally dangerous.
- In New Zealand, the city of Dunedin on the South Island has a much higher earthquake threat than Hamilton on the North Island.
- Different choices impact your exposure to different dangers. We can’t factor these into our figures in a meaningful way.
- We don’t measure for subgroups. For example, LGBTQI+ Expats may face a raft of challenges to their well-being that others do not face. Countries that are safe for men may be less safe for women. In some countries, the practice of unsanctioned religions or atheism can be a threat.
- We don’t account for the impacts of current geopolitical issues. See our section on the war in Ukraine for more information.
The War in Ukraine
It is impossible to include the risks of a conflict like the war in Ukraine. Obviously, there are massive impacts on the safety and security of the citizens and infrastructure of Ukraine. However, there are other factors.
- Finland and Sweden joined NATO in response to Russian aggression, and the outcome of this action is unknown.
- Neighbors like Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland could be at risk of fallout in the event of a nuclear attack.
- The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have strongly opposed Russian aggression. The impact of this stance is unknown.
Our index cannot account for the uncertainty and fluidity of these types of conflict.
The 7 most dangerous countries to live
The countries with the lowest score all have failed governance, internal conflict, and very low economic activity.
- Somalia (Where Can I Live Rank 139)
- Yemen (138)
- Afghanistan (137)
- Sudan (136)
- Haiti (135)
- Mali (134)
- Chad (133)
Want to move to the safest place to live in the world?
Use the Where Can I Live Country Explorer to find out more. We cover visas, residency permits, citizenship, and much more. We also have moving guides and in-depth reports on Expat life in many of the countries in our index.
Your location and how you plan your lifestyle make a massive difference to your personal safety. Because of this, we always suggest talking to Expats in the country for an accurate view of the risks and dangers. They’ll be able to compare their experiences in their new and old homes to give you great insights. Just reading the news can be very misleading!
We’ve been really surprised by some results, while others confirmed our guesses. For now, these are the safest countries to live in the world.
FAQ – Safest Country to Live Index
Appendix 1 – Index Methodology
We’ve chosen the statistics from expert international organizations with expertise in safety and security. All are available for public access and review. These are the six sources (in order of importance).
- Global Peace Index 2021 Ranking (Possible 600 points)
- Legatum 2021 Health Pillar Score (Possible 300 points)
- Legatum Governance + Living Conditions Pillar Scores (Possible 300 points)
- US State Department Travel Advisory October 2022 (Possible 200 Points)
- Our World in Data Covid-19 Vaccination Rates per 100 people October 2022 (Possible 200 points)
- World Economic Forum 2022 Natural Disaster Risk and Readiness (Possible 100 points)
Appendix 2 – Where Can I Live Rankings of 139 countries with complete data
|Rank||Country||Region||WCIL Index Score|
|36||Costa Rica||Central America||1327.4|
|42||United Arab Emirates||MEA||1244.4|
|58||United States of america||North America||1026.6|
|75||Dominican Republic||Central America||895.3|
|89||El Salvador||Central America||741.9|
Nick Heath says
Great subject. Not sure the recommended places passEd the covid test as well as they should have. Sweden for example. Is it safe if you’re a retiree?
Alastair Johnson says
Yes, Nick. COVID has thrown a new variable into the thinking. Given how dynamic the situation is, and how country risk profiles change almost daily, we are leaving out of this version of the article. Thnaks for the input!
Ninsiima Evalyne says
Wonderful countries to live in safety and for me i chose Netherlands very nice country
Neva Sundvahl says
Thank you. Enjoyed learning so many potential destinations to move to in the future.
very good and interesting documents.
My wife and I currently live in the UK (Channel Isles) and we are searching for a permanent home, which has; warm climate (not too severe), Safe environment (low crime and no poisonous animals), Excellent healthcare (we are both fit and well and active but almost 79), excellent communications (internet/phone), and last but certainly not least is that Amazon deliver! My list in order of preference currently is : Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Grenada, Costa Rica, Ecuador. We are both english but I am fluent in french, until Brexit I was a shoe in for French citizenship and Guadeloupe was the top of my list.
Any comments much appreciated,
charlene cooper says
my daughter is on a mission trip in kandy sri lanka, she talks of wanting to reside in sri lanka. if i want to move there to be closer to her where would the best place safest place for me to live. im retired now and living in montana. she was just at arugumbay and sent pictures , wow how beautiful.
Sir, Sri Lanka is going through troubled times and better to avoid the country in the immediate future. hopefully 3-5 years down the line, it will regain some of its charm
Hi Alastair, my family and I want to know if great islands to live on but would like very little to no crime laid back , had good internet services an island that is warm all year long . We have four sons last one will finish school in years time ! We want the kids to be happy so a place where there are young and old my sons don’t need to be I. The uk to work they work on line so internet is a must , that life out in sun island isn’t yo expensive to live on . We would like to open our own business as we have our own business here in the uk ! My husband is an engineer we have a maintenance company that’s doing brilliantly but we want a slower pace and very little crime di I don’t worry if the boys go out all night ? I know it’s a huge ask but if any island offers a few of what I’ve put down it would be a start to turning a dream into Reality. Kind regards Lucia
Alastair Johnson says
HI Lucia… Checkout our Best Countries to Live article for more information, but Mauritius might be a great place to start your investigation. All the best, Alastair