Leadership

These 10 countries have the best quality of life

The Aurora Borealis captured in a clearing in a Swedish coniferous forest.
The Aurora Borealis captured in a clearing in a Swedish coniferous forest.

For the third consecutive year, Canada is the No. 1 country to live in for the best quality of life, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2018 Best Countries list.

In order to help people understand how nations are perceived on a global scale, over 21,000 respondents were asked to evaluate 80 countries by ranking them according to 65 attributes. Among those were economic influence, power, citizenship and quality of life, which collectively helped determine each country's success as a modern nation.

To determine which countries were perceived to have the best quality of life, researchers measured these nine country attributes: affordability, quality of local job market, economic stability, family-friendliness, income equality, political stability, safety, quality of public education system and quality of public health system.

While Canada is ranked first, "Scandinavian countries that are well-known for their strong social welfare networks dominate the top 10," U.S. News & World Report data editor Deidre McPhillips tells CNBC Make It.

The rankings are part of an analysis project called the 2018 Best Countries Report, conducted now for three years by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and global consumer insights firm Y&R's BAV Group.

"The Best Countries report speaks to the effect a nation's brand can have on its economic prosperity and perceived standing in the world," Wharton professor of marketing David Reibstein said in a statement.

Y&R Global CEO David Sable added that nations need to think carefully about their brand appeal and show off qualities like innovation and compassion in order to set themselves apart.

"For the countries that rose to the top of this year's rankings, it is once again clear that military vigor and economic power are no longer the key determinants to a country's brand success," Y&R Global CEO David Sable said in a statement.

Here are the 10 countries that offer the best quality of life, along with how the U.S. News & World Report ranked them on other lists this year:

10. Germany

Hamburg, Germany.
Martin Deja | Getty Images
Hamburg, Germany.

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most modern, entrepreneurship, power, most forward-looking, headquartering a corporation, most influential, transparency, green living, education, women, best countries overall.

9. New Zealand

New Zealand, Auckland, Waitakere Harbour, Elevated View over Devenport towards CBD with Sky Tower at dawn
Doug Pearson | Getty Images
New Zealand, Auckland, Waitakere Harbour, Elevated View over Devenport towards CBD with Sky Tower at dawn

Also in the top 10 best countries for: retirement, traveling alone, adventure, raising kids, most modern.

8. Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sergio Formoso | Flickr | Getty Images
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most business-friendly, most modern, entrepreneurship, headquartering a corporation, raising kids, travel alone, most transparent countries, green living, women, best countries overall.

7. Finland

Helsinki, Finland
Chad Ehlers | Stone | Getty Images
Helsinki, Finland

Also in the top 10 best countries for: green living, raising kids, transparency, women, most business-friendly, most modern.

6. Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland
Carl Larson | Getty Images
Zurich, Switzerland

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most business-friendly, cultural influence, most modern, entrepreneurship, starting a business, most forward-looking countries, headquartering a corporation, raising kids, transparency, green living, education, retiring comfortably, women, best countries overall.

5. Australia

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Also in the top 10 best countries for: cultural influence, most modern, most-forward looking, headquartering a corporation, raising kids, traveling alone, green living, investing in, education, retiring comfortably, women, best countries overall.

4. Norway

Nidelva river and Solsiden area in Trondheim, Norway
Visions of Our Land | Getty Images
Nidelva river and Solsiden area in Trondheim, Norway

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most business-friendly, entrepreneurship, most modern, transparency, raising kids, women, green living.

3. Sweden

The Aurora Borealis captured in a clearing in a Swedish coniferous forest.
The Aurora Borealis captured in a clearing in a Swedish coniferous forest.

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most business-friendly, cultural influence, most modern, entrepreneurship, retiring comfortably, headquartering a corporation, raising kids, transparency, green living, education, women, best countries overall.

2. Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark
Merten Snijders | Getty Images
Copenhagen, Denmark

Also in the top 10 best countries for: education, raising kids, women, most modern, most business-friendly, headquartering a corporation, transparency, green living.

1. Canada

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
David Chapman | Getty Images
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Also in the top 10 best countries for: most business-friendly, most modern, entrepreneurship, retiring comfortably, starting a business, most forward-looking countries, headquartering a corporation, raising kids, transparency, green living, education, women, best countries overall.

Longevity expert Dan Buettner tells CNBC Make It that if you want to become happy, changing your environment can be more effective than changing your belief system.

"Your beliefs aren't going to change. But data now exists to show us how to optimize your surroundings so you're more likely to be happy," he says. "Living by water, in a bikable community and in a place with easy access to fruits and vegetables all stack the deck in favor of happiness."

Buettner's offers this advice to millennials who may feel unhappy living or working where they do: "As long as you make enough for food, shelter, healthcare and some mobility, you should only do a job you love and uses your skills/passions," he says. "You will be much happier in the long run."

If moving out of the United States isn't feasible at the moment, consider moving to one of these U.S. cities to lead a happier life.

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