You can find a number of exceptionally beautiful travel destinations online, there are literally hundreds of lists of breathtaking locations floating around, but the truth is that there’s not much to do in most of them. Sure, you’ll have a fun weekend under the sun or amongst the ruins of ancient wonders, but there’s only so much time you can spend staring at old rocks or trying to wash the pesky sand away before you get bored – in the timeless words of Anakin Skywalker: “I hate sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.”
What about all the ambitious young people that actually want to work hard and get a fresh start in a beautiful land far, far away? Well, as luck would have it, there are a number of truly beautiful places around the globe where you can get a good job, earn your keep and live happily ever after.
In order to find such a promised land, I looked at some of the different lists of the most livable cities around the world in 2015, and ran it past a team a team of travel experts, i.e. a few buddies of mine who had done a fair amount of traveling, to come up with this ultimate list of destinations that offer the best combination of pure aesthetic bliss and financial stability.
10. Vienna, Austria
The Austrian capital has a long and storied history of scientific development, high class taste, decadent lifestyles and wonderful architectural achievements. It is a place that conjures up images of pale-faced gentiles riding around in carriages, listening to classical music and discussing philosophy and history of art -even their city hall looks like a magical cartoon castle.
The best thing about living in Vienna, apart from all the culture and breathtaking sites (obviously), is that there are lots of interesting job opportunities. From sales to the IT sector, and all the way to a number of managerial positions and biopharmaceutical positions; if you have the skill and drive, there are lots of different positions where you can prove yourself and jumpstart your career.
The pay is generally good, and the cost of living isn’t that high when you consider the average salary. One thing to consider is that, although there are some jobs for English speakers, you’re going to need to polish up your German language skills.
9. Vancouver, Canada
No one really thinks of Canadian cities when talking about the most beautiful places on Earth, which is a shame, really. Canada is a vast country with tons of breathtaking scenery, but even urban areas like Vancouver have a great degree of charm to them. The city is very ethnically diverse: about half the population speaks English as a second language, there’s a large gay community, a burgeoning art scene and it’s a fairly safe place to live in.
The unique modern skyscrapers provide interesting contrast to the blue waters and icy mountaintops that surround the city – the whole area was once a temperate rainforest – giving it an almost otherworldly feel. As far as the economy is concerned, Vancouver is a major port and one of the most significant trans-Atlantic trading gateways in North America, with nearly 70.000 jobs generated by port-related activities alone.
There are also a lot of openings in the movie and TV industry – the diverse scenery makes for some incredible shots – as well as the fast growing high-tech sector. E-commerce and video game development are two niches that are gaining more and more popularity, and the city is a veritable haven for tech startups. If you’ve got some tech skills, or plenty of passion and an entrepreneurial spirit, this just might be the right place for you.
8. Melbourne, Australia
Australian cities generally have some very alluring features including wonderful weather, a unique combination of classic late 19th century and ultra-modern architecture, great seafront properties and an exceptionally high quality of living. The Melbourne Zoo and aquarium are definitely worth a visit, and there are plenty of great art exhibits, museums and festivals to satiate your thirst for art and culture. Another interesting fact is that this city takes first and second place for the highest male and female life expectancy in Australia respectively.
Melbourne is Australia’s biggest seaport and a significant industrial center, with plenty of job opportunities available in the fashion, petrochemical, fashion, pharmaceutical, biotech and automotive industries. It is regularly featured on lists with the most expensive cities to live in, but this is not a huge issue as the average salaries quickly shoot up once you get past the most basic entry-level jobs, and there is ample opportunity to develop as a professional and climb up the corporate ladder.
7. Wellington, New Zealand
The capital of New Zealand isn’t a very big city, but it has enough natural beauty and culturally significant sites to satisfy anyone’s thirst for culture, sense of adventure and relaxing outdoors activities. From their magnificent botanical garden, Zealandia Sanctuary and the Red Rocks Reserve, where you can feast your eyes on the unique flora and fauna, to the famous Wellington Cable Car that takes you to a vantage point from which you can take in all the beauty that New Zealand has to offer – there is a little bit here for everyone.
When it comes to finding a job, Wellington has quite a few interesting opportunities in IT, finances, programming, education, healthcare and even microbiology. You can expect to make enough for a comfortable life in any of these sectors, as the average salary is significantly above the national average, and there are few applicants with tertiary qualifications.
6. Zurich, Switzerland
Nestled deep within the Alps, Switzerland is a wonderful country, and urban areas like Zurich are a perfect combination of old traditions and modern technology. There is an excellent nightlife scene and even a red light district, but you’ll also find opera houses, museums, concert halls and theaters if you have more refined tastes. There are several major botanical gardens and parks, and everything is incredibly tidy and aesthetically pleasing.
Since Switzerland remained neutral during the greatest international conflicts of the past century, they have kept their economy pretty much intact, and focused on developing as bankers and industrialists. There are lots of jobs available for economists, marketers, IT professionals, web developers and those with experience in the service industry. The machine and light industries also have plenty of job openings. Although it is one of the pricier cities in the world, the high salaries balance this out nicely, and they even have some of the lowest prices on electronic goods in all of Europe. The main problem you’ll face is that the Swiss are multilingual, and you’ll need to speak Swiss German, German and English as a bare minimum, while some job may require a functional understanding of French and Italian.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
A fun little fact about Copenhagen is that is that it is located on the largest island in Denmark called Zealand, which is in no way connected to New Zealand, which took its name from a province located in the Netherlands called Zeeland. Nonetheless it is a beautiful island, and Copenhagen is a city that boasts a long and storied past, with lots of interesting sites like Frederik’s Church and the Nyhavn Waterfront with its characteristic brightly colored row of houses and lovely ships.
There is also the world-famous Christiania, the city-within-a-city, where free-spirited people and artists live in a sort of commune, with legal drugs and very few restrictions. There are, of course, plenty of opportunities for an eager professional looking to start their career and earn enough to stay in the lovely city of Copenhagen for years.
Education, healthcare, transport, finance, trade, communications, as well as the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors are all highly developed and have a large number of job openings on a regular basis. It is quite expensive to live there, but you won’t have a problem earning your keep if you have the skills and the drive to land a decent job.
4. Stockholm, Sweden
Another great and proud Nordic city to make its way on this list, Stockholm truly has it all, even its own syndrome. There is evidence of human settlements in the area dating back to the Stone Age, so it’s safe to say that there is plenty of history and culture to explore. The cold North has some fascinating scenery, but there is also a lot of fine architecture to take in – there are a total of three World Heritage sites in the area, but also numerous museums, art galleries, theaters and several interesting annual festivals.
Stockholm was even the first European capital to receive a “European Green Capital Award”. However, there is a reason why they are so eco-friendly – there is very little in the way of heavy industry. The main job opportunities to look for here are in finance, IT, human resources and the service industry in general. Software developers are in particularly high demand, and there are a number of jobs for English speakers, so you don’t exactly have to be a polyglot, just as long as you pick up some basic Swedish and adopt your most professional English accent.
3. Frankfurt, Germany
One of the largest German cities, Frankfurt is a true financial and cultural hotspot. You’ll see tall and impressively shiny skyscrapers rising above the Maine River, but you’ll also get to experience the warm old world charm found in the architecture of Römer’s eastern façade and Frankfurt Cathedral. There are also two botanical gardens and countless cultural sites that will simply take your breath away, all mixed in with the modern steel, glass and concrete jungle you’d expect from a respectable metropolis.
The German economy is in fairly good shape at the moment, and with Frankfurt being an important Global Financial Centre, it’s safe to say that there are a few jobs waiting for you there. In fact, there approximately 920 jobs for every 1,000 citizens, the highest number in all of Germany. Banking and stock trading present plenty of opportunities for ambitious professionals, but you’ll also have a good chance of earning a living if in IT, pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. There are a number of entry-level jobs that can serve as a springboard for your career, so I’d suggest you brush up on your German and take a trip to Frankfurt.
2. Singapore, Singapore
There’s one thing about Singapore that I’d like to point out before we move on – it’s clean. No, seriously, the city is squeaky clean, and it’s mostly thanks to their incredibly strict anti-pollution and anti-loitering laws -they’ve even banned chewing gum.
However, if you are an eco-friendly sort of person yourself, then you’ll definitely enjoy the incredible skyline, a variety of churches and mosques, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Singapore Art Festival or indulge in the unique multinational blend that is the Singaporean cuisine. It is a land of diversity and tolerance, where a number of different religions and ethnicities coexist in relative harmony.
Nearly half the population are foreigners, and English is the official language, so it is incredibly easy to fit in. Their unemployment rate is among the lowest in the world, and the costs of living are quite reasonable when compared to other cities on this list, being that the government offers several great benefits to its citizens, including affordable healthcare, education and transportation for lower income families. You can find plenty of jobs, anything from a warehouse assistant or a makeup artist, to a site engineer, architect, software engineer or a lab analyst.
1. Helsinki, Finland
Here we have the former World Design Capital (for 2012) Helsinki. Despite the funny-sounding name, this metropolis has a long history, some exceptional architecture, particularly the Art Nouveau buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. The famous Helsinki zoo takes up an entire 54-acre island of its own. There is a substantial amount of greenery throughout the city, and a beautiful view of the Gulf of Finland.
The GDP is significantly higher than the national average, and rivals that of most European cities. It is a financial and industrial epicentre of Finland, and you’ll find plenty of jobs that pay more than enough for a comfortable life, some of the more popular sectors being IT, communications, healthcare, marketing and sales.
There are some interesting entry-level jobs, and it is relatively easy for ambitious and hardworking individuals to make a name for themselves. Like most of the other metropolitan areas with a high quality of life, Helsinki can be pricey, and the cold and their weird fish-based meals might not make you feel exactly at home at first, however, it is a very beautiful city and a good place to build a successful career.
I know that there are lots of other interesting places under the sun, some more intriguing or beautiful than the cities on this list, but the fact of the matter is that these ten cities are pretty much the best places to be if you are more of a realist than a dreamer, and want to earn a living. All of the locations covered in this article provide a safe and beautiful environment to live in, but also offer a lot in terms of financial stability, personal freedom and culture. You should at least visit some of them if you get a chance – who knows, you might just discover a new land of opportunity that you could call home.