Working abroad: which EU country is best to work

Working abroad: which EU country is best to work

​​Interested in working abroad but not sure which country to choose? If there is no person in your environment who can advise you, use our comparison of which EU country - the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England, Sweden, France or Ireland - offers the best working and living conditions.

Free movement between the countries of the European Union has opened up many opportunities for those interested in working abroad. But when the supply is so great, how do you know what advantages each country has over each other? That’s why we decided to compare the EU countries where you most often look for work abroad and help you decide which country is best for working abroad.

What should be the criteria for choosing the best country for work abroad?

Minimum wage

The most common reason people are interested in working abroad is higher wages. Thus, for many people who think about working abroad, the most important criteria when choosing a country is its minimum wage.

It’s important to know that if you go to work abroad without much work experience, your salary will be only slightly higher than the minimum wage in the chosen foreign country. For this reason, the minimum wage is a very important criteria when choosing the best country to work abroad in 2020. More information on the minimum wage in European countries can be found at the following link:


Average monthly salary after tax deduction

The longer you work abroad and the more work experience you gain, the higher your salary can be. For employees with a lot of work experience and looking for a job in a specific field, what is the average monthly salary after taxes in a particular country. You can find this information at:

​​Cost of living

Looking for a job abroad with the goal of saving money, a very important criteria when choosing a country is its standard of living. The ideal option for working abroad would be a country with a high minimum wage and relatively low cost of living. After all, it’s not easy to save money when you spend everything you earn on living. More information on living standards in different countries can be found here:

Unemployment rate

A country’s unemployment rate is an important criteria for finding out your chances of finding a job in a particular country. If the unemployment rate is relatively high, then the chances of a foreign worker finding a job are reduced as competition between jobseekers increases. Logically, the lower the unemployment rate, the greater the supply of vacancies for workers from other countries. In this link we present statistics on the unemployment rate in the EU countries:

Average English level of the locals

Workers looking for work in another EU country usually speak English.

Whether an English-speaking worker from abroad will be welcomed in a new job depends on how well the locals speak the language. How else will local company employees be able to communicate with their colleagues from other countries? Therefore, when comparing the most popular countries for work abroad in 2020, we use a reference that provides information on the percentage of the local population in a particular EU country that speaks English.

Healthcare system

We all get sick sometimes and have to use healthcare facilities, it’s important to know how the local health care system works and what guarantees or help a ill worker receives when they go abroad to work. Healthcare benefits are one of the most important criteria on which your quality of life depends when you go to work abroad. Thus, we provide information on the place of each country in the world in terms of the quality of healthcare:

The happiness rate

All of the criteria listed above determine whether you will feel satisfied working and living abroad. We also decided to use the assessment of each nation’s happiness index in our comparison. So which country’s residents are the happiest? After all, the most important thing is to feel happy. Perhaps this is why many of us are looking for work abroad. Here is a link to the World Happiness Index, which measures 156 countries according to how happy their people feel:

Which EU country is the best to work in?

1: The Netherlands

​​If you don’t have much work experience in a particular field and are looking for a job abroad, then working in the Netherlands is a great choice. This country leads the EU in terms of the minimum wage, which amounts to 1,635 euros. In the Netherlands, many migrant workers earn slightly more than the national minimum wage. It is important to mention that such a salary is received by employees working in jobs that do not require specific skills.

The quality of life in the Netherlands is one of the best in the world. Among the countries mentioned in the comparison, the Dutch healthcare system ranks highest and 3rd in the world. In addition, the people of this country are happier than the French, Irish, Germans, Swedes, English and Belgians.

In terms of the unemployment rate, the figure in the Netherlands is just 3.9%, which is only slightly lower than in Germany, where the unemployment rate is only 3.4%.

In the Netherlands, as much as 90% the locals speak English. It is the country that leads in terms of the number of people for whom English is a second language. So even if you speak English, you can easily communicate with the locals. The Netherlands is not the leading country in comparing the country’s standard of living. If you are going to work in the Netherlands, you should know that most of your expenses will be spent on renting a home, as rental prices in the country are quite high. However, compared to France, Sweden or Belgium, prices in grocery stores are not high.

Get more information about Working in the Netherlands

2: Ireland

If you speak English and have work experience in a particular field, then Ireland can be a great country to work abroad. According to the country’s minimum wage of 1,563 euros, Ireland shares second place with Belgium after the Netherlands. The average salary is € 2,464 and is higher than in the Netherlands but lower than in Sweden.

If you speak English well and have ambitions to pursue a career abroad, Ireland would be the best choice. However, you should know that Ireland has a high unemployment rate compared to other countries. And this means that when you look for a job in this country, you will have to compete with a larger number of local jobseekers than if you were looking for a job in the Netherlands or Germany.

3: Germany

If your second language is German, then you should be interested in working in Germany. The country has the lowest unemployment rate at just 3.4%, and the cost of living is also the lowest. The lower cost of living compensates for a lower salary compared to the Netherlands or Ireland.

As a small proportion of the German population speaks English, local businesses expect employees from other countries to speak German. This makes it difficult for English-speaking workers to find work in this country. However, if you speak German, the chances of finding a job in Germany in 2020 are high.

Get more information about working in Germany

4: Sweden

If you are looking for a country with a high quality of life to work abroad, you should be interested in Sweden. The average salary in this country is the highest among the countries compared in this text. The health care system and the happiness level of the population are also rated the highest. Even 86 percent. Swedish in English, which makes it easier for employees from abroad to communicate in the workplace.

The biggest disadvantage of working in Sweden is that there is no minimum wage in the country. So when you come to work, you will not be guaranteed that you will receive the minimum wage. The country’s unemployment rate is quite high at 6.2 percent. In addition, a lot of money will have to be spent on living, as rents and commodity prices in stores are high.

5: United Kingdom

England has long been an attractive country for working abroad for English-speaking (and not necessarily) workers. This country mostly attracts people who do not have high expectations for work and quality of life.

Although the minimum monthly salary is € 1,413 and the average is € 2,102 per month, i.e. less than in the Netherlands, Belgium or Ireland, but the cost of living is not high compared to other countries. So the amount you can expect to save after deducting the cost of living should be similar.

Keep in mind that each region of the UK has a different dialect, so understanding the people of other regions can sometimes be difficult even for people who speak good English.

Also, when looking for a job in the UK in 2020, one should be aware that the quality of life in the country is not very high. The healthcare system is less good and local people are less happy than in other EU countries. Another major shortcoming is that in 2016, the majority of Britons voted for the country to withdraw from the European Union. But only in 2020, when the UK finally leaves the EU, will it become clear what awaits foreign workers working in the country and what new jobseekers can expect.

6: Belgium

When working in Belgium, you can expect to receive the country’s minimum wage of € 1,563 per month. After the Netherlands, this is the highest minimum wage, which is the same as in Ireland.

A rather unexpected fact about Belgium is that only 60% of the country’s population speaks English. Although in neighboring Netherlands the figure is as high as 90%. However, this should not be an obstacle to finding a job in Belgium, as there are a number of job offers for English-speaking workers.

The cost of living in the country is quite high, mainly due to high commodity prices. Compared to neighboring Netherlands, the Belgian health system and population happiness rate are not as good.

Working in Belgium could be of interest to those workers who have already worked abroad and would like to try something new and get to know another country.

Job offers in Belgium

7: France

France could be the most attractive holiday destination of all the countries mentioned in the comparison. However, according to our criteria, those who like France are better off not choosing that country to work abroad. The country’s unemployment rate is as high as 9.2 percent, which makes it very difficult to find a job, especially for those workers who do not speak French. Because only 39 percent. the country’s population speaks English, so not knowing the local language will make it difficult to communicate with co-workers.

In terms of quality of life, France boasts one of the best healthcare systems in Europe, with excellent food and good weather. However, out of the population of the countries compared, the French are the most unhappy. So it is better for English-speaking and job-seeking workers to choose another country to work abroad.

Which EU country is best to work in

Minimum wageAverage wageCosts of livingUnemployment rateEnglish speaking population %Healthcare systemHappiness index
Swedenthere is none€255083,706,2%86%89
United Kingdom€1413€210275,854,1%98%2319


When choosing a country to work abroad, it is always helpful to consult with friends, acquaintances or relatives who have worked abroad. People from your environment will tell you the best about what you can expect when you go abroad to work.

It is also very important to know what you expect when looking for a job abroad when choosing a country:

  • If you want to reach career heights using your English language skills, then it is best to choose Ireland.
  • If you speak German, we suggest choosing Germany for your job search.
  • If you want to try a new country to work abroad, try working in Belgium.
  • If you want to save money and enjoy a good quality of life, working in the Netherlands would be the best choice.

If you would like to know more about working in the Netherlands or Germany, contact our selection specialists.


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