These Are The World’s Best Cities to Have a Baby
New parents have a lot to manage, like caring for their baby while balancing their career and finding good support services and recreational activities. While they want the best life for their child and themselves, not all cities are created equal. For example, places in Asia and Europe far outrank the United States in key areas such as paid maternity and paternity leave, free or inexpensive healthcare, early childhood education and even safety.
In fact, according to a list compiled by worldwide insurance company William Russell, no city in the United States cracks the top 30. Curious to see which international destinations made the list? Grab your passport, and let’s go on a journey through the world’s best cities to have a baby. But be warned: You may just want to pack your bags and move.
30. Budapest, Hungary
Population: 1.77 million
Why Budapest is great for new parents: New moms can receive an astounding three years of paid maternity leave (the average in the United States is a mere 12 weeks). They also pay half-price on public transportation, which has wider doors to accommodate strollers and designated seats for parents and their kids.
Budapest also offers a strong sense of community. Weekly singalongs (known as Ringató) help new parents meet one another, while also fostering brain development in kids. And in the first few weeks after a child is born, friends and family organize a komatál, a potluck dinner so that tired parents can be nurtured, too.
* Rankings come from a report published by William Russell.
29. Zurich, Switzerland
Population: 1.41 million
Why Zurich is great for new parents: Zurich is consistently ranked one of the safest cities in the world and is compact and easy to navigate. Parents can enjoy a host of kid-friendly activities like the zoo, Wow Museum and EXPOLRiT, while the Botanical Gardens and Lake Zurich are great places to spread out a blanket and get some fresh air.
New mothers also receive extraordinary postpartum care that includes extra time in the hospital to help them get acclimated to parenthood.
28. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Population: 1.16 million
Why Amsterdam is great for new parents: Dutchchildren have been named “the happiest children in the world,” so being a parent here seems like it would make adults happy, too. This vibrant international city is great for work-life balance, with parents working an average of 29 hours per week (one of the lowest in the world), and both full-time and part-time workers receiving the same benefits.
Dads in Amsterdam often work four-day weeks to spend more time at home, affectionately referred to as “Papadag” or “Daddy Day.”
27. Brussels, Belgium
Population: 2.1 million
Why Brussels is great for new parents: Brussels is popular with young families thanks to its stellar healthcare and top-notch educational system, including some of the world’s best international schools. The headquarters of the European Union, Brussels offers a multicultural environment that’s appealing to new moms and dads from diverse backgrounds.
The city is compact, easy to walk and offers lots of family-friendly restaurants and activities, such as a renowned Toy Museum and picnics on the grounds of royal palaces.
26. Antalya, Turkey
Population: 2.43 million
Why Antalya is great for new parents: Who wouldn’t want to raise a new baby in coastal paradise? Antalya’s picturesque beaches and calm waters provide the perfect setting for relaxing family time. There’s also a terrific aquarium that boasts beautiful fish and one of the world’s biggest underwater tunnels, plus Snow World and Ice Museum — a great way to enjoy the best of cold weather without absolutely freezing.
Practically speaking, the area is super safe, and the cost of private school is about $333 a month, way cheaper than many other parts of Europe.
25. Heraklion, Greece
Why Heraklion is great for new parents: Located in Crete (the largest of the Greek Islands), Heraklion has beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountainscapes. With 43 weeks of maternity leave, new moms can spend lots of quality time in the fresh air enjoying the scenery. There are loads of family-friendly restaurants and museums, and if new parents crave a change of scenery and even more culture, Athens is less than an hour away by plane.
The cost of living here is also a plus. It’s much lower than big cities, with rent averaging a whopping 85 percent less than in New York.
24. Sydney, Australia
Population: 5.37 million
Why Sydney is great for new parents: Sydney is a top choice for parents who love the outdoors. It has great weather, where temperatures rarely fall below 42° Fahrenheit in the winter and above 90° Fahrenheit in the summer, and breathtaking beaches smackdab in the middle of the city (so they are easy to get to). Being on the water makes for great family strolls and also sets up parents with a comprehensive ferry system for stroller-friendly and scenic commutes around town.
There are also great schools and a wide range of social spaces like Parent Poppin for hangouts, classes and other resources. Though Sydney can be pricey, it’s cheaper than other big cities — about 30 percent less expensive than New York or London.
23. Glasgow, Scotland
Why Glasgow is great for new parents: With excellent museums and live entertainment, Glasgow is rich in culture but much more affordable than other cities in the U.K., about 20 percent cheaper than London and 10 percent less expensive than Edinburgh. New parents are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity/paternity leave (shared between them) and receive a government-issued Baby Box that includes essentials like clothing, playmat, towels and a sling carrier. The clever box also doubles as a place for the baby to sleep.
Other benefits include free healthcare, a world-class education system and generous vacation time, with most employees receiving at least 28 days of paid time off every year.
22. Auckland, New Zealand
Population: 1.63 million
Why Auckland is great for new parents: New Zealand’s biggest city offers up a lot for new parents, including a wealth of job opportunities, a great education system, low pollution and plenty of family-friendly neighborhoods from which to choose. One of those places is Takapuna, which has a prestigious grammar school, fantastic markets and, perhaps most importantly, a beach practically in your backyard.
Additionally, babies receive free health checks, and parents are provided with a range of other support services like child development classes and 24-hour helplines.
21. Frankfurt, Germany
Why Frankfurt is great for new parents: Germany’s fifth-largest city often feels like a charming small town with plenty of parks and playgrounds for picnics and strolling. New parents can take advantage of several classes and meet-up groups, such as music and rhythm workshops.
As Germany’s biggest business center, Frankfurt has a diverse population and is a great travel hub for the rest of the world, a major draw for parents who need to travel for work or want to take their children on adventures from an early age. The city is great for parents who freelance or are self-employed, with shared office spaces like Co-Work & Play offering onsite childcare.
20. Berlin, Germany
Population: 3.57 million
Why Berlin is great for new parents: Childcare can be very expensive, forcing a parent to give up their job because it’s more economically viable than paying for costly care. In Berlin, however, childcare averages about $131.73 a month (one of the least expensive in Europe), enabling parents to stress less about balancing work and childcare.
As compared to other major cities in Europe, Berlin is far less expensive with affordable rent and public transit, which is also super efficient and among the world’s best. Yet the city is home to an amazing art scene, diverse culture and over 880 schools, so a child can go from kindergarten all the way to a university without ever leaving.
19. Paris, France
Population: 2.18 million
Why Paris is great for new parents: The City of Lights is one of the absolute best places in the world for strolling (with or without a baby carriage in tow), and new parents have plenty of opportunities to do so with 16 weeks of paid leave. They can also be eligible for government supplements that help pay for nannies and other needed services and receive high-quality healthcare and nutrition that includes access to full-time baby chefs.
Yep, instead of having to stress about dinner or feeding your child something fast that isn’t the healthiest choice, parents can ask their baby chef to prepare gourmet three-course meals.
18. Prague, Czech Republic
Population: 1.31 million
Why Prague is great for new parents: Like Berlin, Prague is relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. The city is picturesque with cobblestone lanes and historic beautiful buildings yet filled with playgrounds and parks. New moms receive 28 weeks of maternity leave, which may begin six to eight weeks before giving birth, and the city is considered to be one of the safest in the world.
Additionally, The Czech Republic was named as one of “The Best Countries to Raise a Family in 2020” by Ashley & Lyric, coming in at No. 10.
17. Porto, Portugal
Population: 1.32 million
Why Porto is great for new parents: Portugal’s second largest city is often eclipsed by Lisbon (more on it next), but a high safety rating, access to good healthcare, affordable cost of living and scenic location on the banks of the River Douro make Porto a smart choice for having a baby.
And when new parents need a break, there’s fantastic wine (especially Port, for which it’s famous) and terrific restaurants.
16. Lisbon, Portugal
Population: 2.97 million
Why Lisbon is great for new parents: Lisbon seemingly has it all: a colorful city center filled with historic buildings and great restaurants, safe streets and access to high-quality education, a diverse population including a thriving LGBTQ+ community and nearby beaches.
It’s also a great city to work from home, ranking No. 1 on Nomad List’s Best Places to Live and Work in the World. Honestly, with all this great stuff, who wouldn’t want to raise a child here?
15. Nice, France
Why Nice is great for new parents: It’s hard to beat great weather (averaging around 78° Fahrenheit in the summer and only dropping to 50° Fahrenheit in the winter), a prime spot in the French Riviera and low crime rates, which surely helps new parents feel at ease enjoying those beautiful beaches.
In addition to enjoying a scenic and lively environment often filled with people from all over the world, Nice ranks No. 1 for the quality of healthcare, including prenatal and childbirth care, according to the William Russell report.
14. Vienna, Austria
Population: 1.94 million
Why Vienna is great for new parents: The home of Mozart and Beethoven is music to many new parents’ ears. Famous for its opera houses, palaces and desserts, Vienna is also very stroller friendly and has loads of playgrounds (including plenty of indoor options for chilly winter months). Restaurants almost always feature a changing table and space for strollers and high-chairs, and the city’s efficient mass transit system is very family-friendly, with kids under 6 riding for free.
Throw in one of the world’s best healthcare systems and affordable living, and it’s easy to see why Vienna can be such a treat for new parents.
13. Osaka, Japan
Population: 19.1 million
Why Osaka is great for new parents: Osaka is filled with history and culture, plus big-city offerings like great restaurants and stores, but it’s less hectic and more affordable than cities like Tokyo. Locals are known for their friendly demeanor and willingness to help out strangers. New moms receive 58 weeks of maternity leave and can take advantage of Osaka’s Child Raising Support Project, which provides info sessions and gathering places where new parents can “meet and play freely.”
Many of the city’s biggest attractions like Kids Plaza (a big play zone and science museum) and Osaka Aquarium cater to families.
12. Munich, Germany
Population: 1.55 million
Why Munich is great for new parents: There’s more to this Bavarian gem than Oktoberfest. Filled with green spaces galore, Munich is safe, very clean and easy to get around by foot or stroller-friendly mass transit. It’s also a quick train ride to mountains and lakes for when new parents want some fresh-air family time.
There’s terrific healthcare that includes prenatal exams and midwife services and even covers fitness courses for those wanting to hit the gym. As standard in Germany, maternity leave is a generous 58 weeks, plus an option to take parental leave for up to three years. Perhaps the most important detail: Munich’s famous biergartens are kid-friendly, too!
11. Stockholm, Sweden
Why Stockholm is great for new parents: New parents in Sweden have 480 days of leave, and there’s free healthcare to cover their children’s vaccinations, doctor visits and medicine. Stockholm is filled with beautiful parks and playgrounds, is very walkable, and public buses are free for parents with small children.
New moms and dads also receive a child allowance from the government, and most companies offer flexible hours. If a company doesn’t offer time off to care for a child, parents can get government compensation (known as “vab”) for work time they missed.
10. Seoul, South Korea
Population: 9.97 million
Why Seoul is great for new parents: Despite being a large city with a hectic pace, Seoul is very safe (people often leave their doors unlocked) and has plenty of green spaces for new parents to relax with their babies. New moms get 64 weeks of maternity leave, while new dads can receive 52 weeks of paternity leave. It also has one of the world’s best healthcare systems, and there’s an emphasis on caring for new moms. Postpartum centers focus on helping new mothers recover after giving birth, providing hotel-quality services like massages and fitness classes in addition to teaching childcare skills.
Most of the city is kid-friendly, with kid cafes located in almost every neighborhood and stores offering free stroller rentals, private nursing rooms and babysitting while moms and dads shop.
9. Tokyo, Japan
Population: 37.34 million
Why Tokyo is great for new parents: One of the world’s most exciting cities is also super kid-friendly. Tokyo offers several small touches that go a long way with new parents, like baby-friendly movie theaters and an abundance of babycare rooms (complete with a vending machine filled with necessities you may have forgotten at home) throughout the city.
And when parents need a break, Tokyo is home to an amazing food scene with the most Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city. Of course, if you bring the baby, a waiter will promptly serve up a high chair and special utensils.
8. Chiba, Japan
Why Chiba is great for new parents: The third area in Japan to make the list, Chiba is actually a prefecture (or district) that’s located about an hour away from Tokyo but can feel world’s away in terms of cost of living and crowds.
It’s a smart choice for new parents who want to be close to the action but prefer to live near beaches and green spaces. It’s also home to family-friendly attractions like Tokyo Disneyland, which has rides specifically designed for parents and their babies, and Kamogawa Sea World.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
Population: 1.36 million
Why Copenhagen is great for new parents: The land of “The Little Mermaid” is quite enchanting for new parents, thanks to its green spaces, safety and general coziness that engulfs the city. With a generous family-time leave that includes 52 weeks (shareable between both parents), moms and dads have plenty of time to bicycle with their babies and enjoy over 125 playgrounds and iconic amusement parks like Tivoli Gardens.
The city is compact enough to easily move from the historic old town to nearby beaches with public transit (that includes dedicated spaces for strollers), and children are openly welcomed in cafes, museums and stores. Another benefit: Copenhagen is consistently cited as one of the world’s happiest cities.
6. Oslo, Norway
Population: 1.1 million
Why Oslo is great for new parents: Norway’s capital city is a draw for new parents thanks to low crime rates, free healthcare and child support that’s funded by the state. New parents can take up to 59 weeks off, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the area’s many museums and amazing outdoor activities like swimming and kayaking in Oslofjord and skiing in the Nordmarka woodlands.
The time-off policy is especially great for new dads, who receive 15 weeks (that they either use or lose).
5. Fukuoka, Japan
Population: 5.52 million
Why Fukuoka is great for new parents: One of Japan’s largest cities, Fukuoka is very safe and surrounded by the mountains and ocean, giving new parents and their babies moments to escape busy urban life. Located in Southern Japan, the city is equidistant to Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul, which is a draw for parents whose jobs require international travel.
Unlike other parts of Japan, Fukuoka doesn’t see a lot of tourists, so families can enjoy true local living in a way that feels less hurried or stressful. Plus, housing here is about 60 percent less than in Tokyo.
4. Helsinki, Finland
Population: 1.32 million
Why Helsinki is great for new parents: Helsinki tops the list for the lowest pollution index, scoring just above 13 percent (Los Angeles and Rome come in over 60 percent by comparison). It’s also extremely safe, has universal healthcare and offers the same amount of parental leave regardless of gender.
Giving birth here won’t put you in debt either: The average cost of a hospital stay (complete with a private room, meals for both parents and support from medical staff) is just over $300, a far cry from the thousands it can cost in the U.S. Midwife services and free baby products like a snowsuit, wool cap, bibs and blankets are also standard here. Is it any wonder Finland is ranked No. 1 on the World Happiness Report?
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Why Tallinn is great for new parents: Estonia tops the list for the longest maternity leave, offering new moms 166 weeks off. Pregnant women receive free healthcare, as do new parents for children aged 0-3. Kids are also insured at no cost until they turn 19. Three is also the magic number for public transport, as parents of children under that age can ride for free.
Additionally, Tallinn offers a low cost of living, has one of the most preserved medieval towns in Europe (great for inspiring parents to come up with new fairytales to tell their children) and a booming digital economy that allows great work-from-home options.
2. Kyoto, Japan
Population: 1.46 million
Why Kyoto is great for new parents: The last destination in Japan to make the list, Kyoto is the highest rated city for safety, scoring an impressive 87.67 safety index score from William Russell. Besides being super safe, Kyoto is a great place for new parents who want to live at a slower pace and enjoy the area’s various temples, gardens and strolls by the Kamo River, which runs through town.
Kyoto offers a terrific mix of history and modern amenities, including great public transportation. It’s home to Japan’s film and television industry and several IT companies, which provide many employment opportunities, and housing prices are about 42 percent lower than in Tokyo. Like the rest of Japan, parents receive generous time off: New moms get 58 weeks, while new dads get 52.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Why Reykjavik is great for new parents: With its proximity to great natural wonders like geysers, waterfalls and black-sand beaches, not to mention a winter sky filled with the Northern Lights, it’s no surprise that new parents love Reykjavik. This charming city is also a leader in early childhood education, with almost 60 percent of children aged 0-2 participating in formal education and care services. Like other parts of Europe, restaurants and stores are happy to cater to the little ones, and Reykjavík is low on crime and pollution.
Since both the city and Iceland at large are compact, living here often feels like being in a small village where everyone knows and helps one another. And when parents are feeling a little stressed and need a little break, is there any better relief than a dip in the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or any other of Iceland’s famous hot springs?