Raising a family abroad can be an incredible adventure, but picking the right location is key. From safety and education to budget-friendly living and exciting activities, there are a lot of factors that can influence where you choose to settle.

To help families navigate this exciting decision, we’ve done some research to reveal the world’s best cities for expat families. We analysed cities around the world and in Europe based on factors like safety, things to do, cost of living, maternity leave policies, and quality of education.

The best cities in the world for expat families

1. Edinburgh, UK

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is crowned the world’s best city for expat families. It boasts 32.8 things to do per 10,000 people, translating to an impressive 1,833 activities overall to keep everyone entertained. From exploring historic castles to strolling through charming gardens, Edinburgh promises endless opportunities for family bonding. 

On top of that, Edinburgh also offers more paid maternity leave than any other location, at a generous 39 weeks. Plus, with a high quality of life index score (187.7), you can be sure your family will be thriving in this vibrant city.

English speakers will feel right at home in Edinburgh, but families relocating from elsewhere can get a head start by taking online English lessons. This will not only help you navigate daily life but also unlock a deeper connection to the local culture.

2. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Coming in a close second is Amsterdam, the vibrant capital of the Netherlands. The city ranks highly when it comes to safety in particular, with a safety index score of 71.6. Not only will you feel secure, but Amsterdam also offers an even better quality of life score than Edinburgh (198.4).

Education is another big win for Amsterdam, ranking third in the world. This makes it a particularly attractive location for families with school-aged children, setting them up to receive a world-class education. 

Amsterdam landscape

While English is widely spoken in Amsterdam, the official language is Dutch. Mastering the language can be tricky, so consider taking online Dutch lessons before your move to make everyday life easier.

3. Seville, Spain

Looking for a sunny escape with the family? Seville, Spain, takes the third spot in our list of top expat family cities. The cost of living is lower here compared to Edinburgh and Amsterdam (with a score of 48.8), making it easier to stretch your budget for family adventures. Plus, the quality of life score remains impressive at 171.3, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable life.

Seville also ranks 20th globally for education, which is slightly lower than the top two cities but still a very good ranking overall. 

Similar to Dutch, Spanish can be a challenging language to learn. Taking online Spanish lessons beforehand can help you navigate daily life and connect with locals.

The best cities in Europe for expat families 

As well as revealing the best cities for expat families around the world, we also took a look at which cities come out on top within Europe. If you’re keen to relocate to a European city but aren’t sure which would be best, these options could be great for you.

The top three European cities for expat families are the same as the top three worldwide: Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Seville. 

After that, Helsinki comes in fourth in our rankings. The Finnish capital ranks particularly highly for quality of life (with a score of 196.3) and safety (75.4), as well as coming in eighth in the global education ranking. 

Copenhagen rounds out the top five, with one of the highest quality-of-life scores on the list (200). It also ranks second in the world for education, which is better than any other city in our study. 

English is widely spoken in Denmark, but if you’re thinking of moving here you could benefit from taking Danish lessons to get to grips with the native language too. 

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Tips for families to prepare for moving abroad

1. Learn the local language 

Before you touch down in your new home, prioritise learning some essential phrases in the local language. Even mastering just a few basic phrases like “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you” will come in handy during your first few days and weeks there.

There are plenty of online resources designed to make language learning engaging for kids of all ages, so you can turn it into a fun family activity. For older children or adults who need a more structured approach, think about enrolling in online language classes before or after your arrival.  

This will give you a strong foundation to build upon and make navigating daily life in your new city much easier.

2. Delve into the culture and history before you go

A little research beforehand can go a long way in ensuring a positive first impression on your expat adventure! Take some time to research local customs, traditions and etiquette before your big move. 

Understanding these cultural nuances can help avoid any unintentional mistakes and allow for a more respectful integration into your new community. 

3. Connect with expat communities

Seek out expat communities online or through social media groups before you go.  These groups can be a wealth of information and support. 

You can ask questions about housing, schools, healthcare, and cultural norms. You might even find families you can connect with once you arrive, making the initial adjustment smoother for everyone.

4. Involve children in the planning process

If you’re moving with children, it’s important to involve them in the process. Look at pictures of your new city, research local child-friendly activities, and let them choose a few things they’d like to try. 

Try to address any anxieties they might have and be open about the challenges and excitement of moving. You could even pack a box of familiar items for them to bring to create a sense of comfort in their new room.

5. Keep a positive attitude

Moving to a new country is an adventure! Embrace the new experiences and be open to trying new things. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude, and you’ll be well on your way to settling into your new home.


For this study, we used an index methodology and included the following metrics:

All data was collected in May 2024.

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