UK worst place to live in Europe: Quality of Life Index
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
by Lauren Pope
The UK and Ireland are the worst places to live in Europe, while France and Spain are the best, according to the latest uSwitch Quality of Life Index
The UK came 9th out of the 10 European countries in the Index, thanks to high living costs, below average government spending on health and education, short holidays and late retirement. The Index shows that people in France enjoy the highest quality of life, closely followed by Spain.
People in the UK pay the highest prices for food and diesel, yet the government spends below the European average (as a percentage of GDP) on health and education. We also work longer hours, retire later, receive less annual leave than most of our European counterparts and get less sunshine along the way - not to mention the fact that we can expect to die two years younger than our French counterparts.
The UK no longer has the highest net household income in Europe, after falling behind Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark. In the past, the relatively high net income in the UK has offset the poor quality of life, but this year net household income it is only around £5000 above the European average, compared to £10,000 above last year.
France enjoys the earliest retirement age (joint with Poland), spends the most on healthcare (11% of GDP) and has the longest life expectancy in Europe. Its workers also benefit from 36 days holiday a year, compared with just 28 in the UK, and it comes only behind Spain and Italy for hours of sunshine.
Spain has the most sunshine, the lowest prices for alcohol and the highest number of days holiday in Europe at 43 days a year. However, the Spanish government spends the least on education.