France tops quality of life index

France, Spain and the Netherlands are the best places to live in Europe, according to an index compiled by uSwitch, a price comparison website.

The uSwitch Quality of Life Index examines ten European countries and assesses them based on 16 factors including net income, cost of essential goods, working hours, retirement age, holiday allowances, hours of sunshine per year, life expectancy and education and health spending.

France trounced its rivals for top spot for the third year in a row with the highest level of health spending (14.10% of GDP) of the group, the second highest number of holiday days per year (36) and the lowest retirement age (60) of the ten countries studied.

France’s overall score was 8.14, leagues ahead of Spain’s 6.39, the next best place to live in Europe. Spain’s edge came from its generous number of holiday days per year (39) and impressive sunshine hours (2,559 per year).

The UK transpired as the worst place to live in Europe due to a combination of high living costs (diesel, food and cigarette costs in the UK are the highest in the group), limited holidays (a mere 28 days taken a year on average) and terrible weather (it gets just 1,387 hours of sunshine per year – only Ireland has less).

This is the UK’s first year at the bottom of the index. Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said that although the UK enjoys the fourth highest household income in Europe, the high cost of living means the British are simply “living to work.”

The Index is caculated based on data from a range of European institutions including the OECD, the World Bank, Eurostat, Euromonitor, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the German Met Office and Solarventi Online Portal.

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