5 Things You Need to Know About the Safest Countries in Europe
5 Things You Need To Know About The Safest Countries In Europe: When you are moving to Europe, safety is going to be one of the biggest issues on your mind. With the conflict in Ukraine and heavy protests going on in major cities all over the continent, it may seem like Europe is in the middle of a difficult time. It’s reasonable to want to know how these issues affect the rest of Europe.
The good news is that as of October 2022, most of Europe is still considered very safe by the US State Department. Besides the famous beaches of the Mediterranean, stunning mountains of the Alpine region, charming and fascinating historic sites, and delicious and historic cuisines, many European countries rank among the top 30 safest countries in the world. This is unlike the United States, which ranks 86th. Additionally, the Global Peace Index ranks Nordic countries like Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland as among the top 25 safest countries anywhere on Earth compared to the US, which ranks at the 122nd position.
Of course, moving to a new country comes with a certain degree of unfamiliarity with the culture, language, laws, security concerns, and more. Hence, it’s always prudent to have a decent picture of what security truly looks like in your dream home. In this guide, we will share with you all the insights on what it truly means to live safely in Europe. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions about your move to Europe, so you can take the right precautions (when necessary) to be aware, alert, and confident.
Overall Safety Rankings
Many European countries have extremely high ratings on safety indexes, which consider factors including violent crime, petty theft, burglary, and terrorism. Countries like the Isle of Man (81.4), Switzerland (78.3), Slovenia (77.3), Iceland (76.5), and Estonia (76.2) rank highest around the world. Popular expat destinations like Portugal (69.4), Norway (66.2), Spain (66.1), Germany (63.6), and Malta (59.2) rank in the middle but are still highly safe. At the bottom of the European rankings are Moldova (52.6), Greece (52.6), Sweden (51.0), France (47.6), and Belarus (41.6).
Overall, the World Population Review asserts that the world’s safest countries tend to have high levels of education, social welfare, and effective criminal justice systems that maintain healthy relationships with their citizens. So, it’s safe to say that you can expect these characteristics in each of the safest countries in Europe.
Homicide and Violent Crime
Violent crime will top the list when it comes to safety anywhere in the world. It’s always a big concern for anyone, but most especially for families with children. Fortunately, Europe has some of the lowest murder and violent crime rates in the world. The reality is that the US has higher rates of intentional homicide than every European country. In 2018, the homicide rate in the US was 5 per 100,000 people, compared to less than 2 per 100,000 people in Europe in 2007.
That said, it’s always prudent to observe regular safety precautions while living in Europe like you would anywhere else in the world. This includes becoming knowledgeable about popular scams and staying away from backstreets and alleyways or the “seedier” regions of any city.
Organized crime generally isn’t a major issue for residents of Europe. However, it’s still important to paint a picture of the crime gangs in various countries. There is a mixture of gangs ranging from Italian mafia organizations like the Sicilian Mafia, the Camorra, the ‘Ndrangheta, and the Criminalita Pugliese, to Turkish, Albanian, and other organizations from countries of the former Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, France is especially positioned on Europe’s main drug trafficking routes. Luxembourg’s secretive banking laws also provide an attractive hotspot for money laundering. Many of these gang activities cut across Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece, Finland, Sweden, and Belgium.
Overall, the European criminal networks are involved in car theft, art theft, fraud, alcohol and drug trafficking, money laundering, and the illegal sale of tobacco products. Typically, these gangs maintain international networks cutting across Europe and beyond. That said, the governments and law enforcement agencies in Europe have made significant strides in combating the menace caused by these groups.
Violence Against Women
Women face unique security risks when living abroad and although there have been major improvements made in security across the world, situational awareness is an important part of staying safe. Whether you are traveling solo, in pairs or groups, with men, accompanying a spouse or family member, or visiting friends and family, you should know what’s happening in the area.
Some of the countries with the highest rates of femicide in the EU were reported to be Latvia, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. The lowest femicide rates were in countries such as Malta, Ireland, Greece, Estonia, and Cyprus.
Safety While Traveling
As a tourist going around Europe, your concern doesn’t stop at the safety index; it’s a good thing to equally consider how safe you would be doing the actual activities you wish to do. This could be shopping, visiting tourist sites, art galleries, the theater, navigating public transportation, or going to remote or less-developed regions. It’s of equal concern to research what you should wear to blend with the environment. That’s why the U.S. State Department periodically ranks countries in the world according to four levels: Level 1: Exercise normal precautions; Level 2: Exercise increased caution; Level 3: Reconsider travel; and Level 4: Do not travel.
Most recently, the rankings were updated in October 2022:
- Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions (28): Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland
- Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution (17): Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Moldova, Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom
- Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: None
- Level 4 – Do Not Travel (3): Belarus, Russia, Ukraine
Other Level 4 countries are typically those involved in conflicts or widespread political persecution such as Afghanistan, North Korea, Yemen, and Mexico. The classification for Belarus is due to the political unrest that has been prevalent there since its 2020 elections. Now the country also serves as a staging area for Russian troops and military hardware. Of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major destabilizing force in the region.
Take Charge of Your Safety as You Move to Europe
Whether you are a seasoned traveler, a long-term expat, or just getting ready for your big move, safety is likely at the top of your mind. You can probably rest easy if you’re going to Europe, though, because most parts of Europe are some of the safest places to live in the world as an expat. Even so, there are always risks. Hence, it’s always important to have a contingency plan with real-time information about the place in which you spend your time.
At Expat Empire, we aim to help you make smart choices before and during your move to Europe or anywhere else. Our Consulting Services will help you comprehensively plan out every important issue, from transportation to accommodation, preferred locations, and of course safety. Our Destination Comparison service enables you to visualize a full and realistic picture of your target destinations in Europe, including the relative safety levels across multiple countries. Our large partner network will also help you feel well-oriented wherever you move. Before you get started, schedule your Free Consultation Call with our experienced team.