Quality of life in Britain is the worst in Europe

Deflated globe

The UK has been voted the worst place to live in Europe for quality of life, according to uSwitch.

The high cost of living, later retirement age and lack of holidays have pushed the UK into bottom place, behind Poland, Germany, Ireland and Sweden.

Top of the list for the third year running is France, second place goes to Spain, while Italy falls into third.

The study was conducted by looking at 16 different factors, including income and the cost of essential goods along, with lifestyle factors such as hours of sunshine, life expectancy, working hours and holiday entitlement.

Although the average net income in the UK is one of the highest in Europe, everyday living costs are far greater with the price of unleaded petrol, alcohol and cigarettes way above the European average.

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Keen to escape

Today just 5% of us are happy living in the UK, while 12% admit to wanting to emigrate. When asked what the worst thing about living in the UK was, 59% said it was Britain's broken society, while 49% blamed the cost of living and 47% cited crime and violence.

Ann Robinson, spokesperson for uSwitch.com, says: "We may still be enjoying the fourth-highest household income in Europe, but the high cost of living means that we're living to work. When coupled with many of the issues facing households in the UK today it's not surprising that one in ten of us have contemplated starting a new life abroad.

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"For those of us who decide to stay put and ride out the storm, there will be no choice but to batten down the hatches. Cutting back where possible to help combat our high living costs will go some way to improving our quality of life."

Rank Countries VAT Working hours per week Number of holiday days per year Retirement age Cost of fuel (per litre) Food prices (GBP)
1 France 19.6% 38.0 36 60 £1.31 £120.78
2 Spain 18% 38.6 39 62.3 £1.15 £124.54
3 Italy 20% 37.8 31 60.1 £1.33 £125.22
4 Holland 19% 30.6 31 63.5 £1.43 £122.51
5 Germany 19% 35.7 29 62.2 £1.33 £123.88
6 Denmark 25% 33.5 36 62.3 £1.40 £130.09
7 Poland 23% 40.6 38 59.3 £1.10 £137.72
8 Sweden 23% 36.5 38 61.4 £1.35 £126.78
9 Ireland 21% 35.0 29 64.1 £1.28 £112.62
10 UK 20% 36.4 28 63 £1.33 £145.30


Your Comments

Uk is the best place to earm money and go back to your home country but not to spend your life in uk.

I am not sure that alcohol and cigarettes are essentail goods, and even unleaded petrol is a luxury fro many people without cars.

Well if England is so bad, why do people come across from Africa and Asia, and eastern europe to get here? No doubt all the benefits.

Could we have Australia and New zealand comparisons please

well why do all the polish want to live here!

It is tough, yes, of course. We have, however, known about this for some time now. They keep talking about 'battening down the hatches.' but people have been taking steps for the last two years: my central heating is powered by coal/log stove - I bought a second-hand coal bunker, filled it up at summer pricees, and collect wood daily when I walk the dogs and kindling when pruning or when people give me old fence panels, pallets, etc. I got solar panels and try to use most of my electricity during daylight hours when it's home-generated not bought in. I cook with calor gas, about £30 a year. I save water. I've been digging forever in odd spots or putting up those plastic "allotment square metres" and managed to produce our own potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, French beans, peas, carrots, spinach, rocket, lettuce, apples, raspberries, pears, plums, gooseberries, rhubarb. I grow herbs in flower beds inc parsley and basil. I still have to drive most places so car is essential but it's low-fuel and -tax and cheap to insure; my daughter cycles, takes school bus, or we car pool. I joined three "freecycle" sites which got me a free microwave but better, got rid of "rubbish" for free. And so on. Then there's charity shops, Martin's money-saving email, Moneywise free emails, and so on and so on. We're getting the same stuff as ever but paying about the same too.

The cost differences are less than I expected in your table. The "grass is always greener" on the other side of the fence. Our experiences of France, Spain etc come from when we are on holiday. My daughter worked in Le Havre, France for 7 months when studying for her degree a few years ago, and there was poverty and unemployment especially among the immigrant population there, no different to our own situation in some areas of the country.

NOT surprised. The UK will have an Islamic government within 25 years - Thank God I will be gone by then!!

You lost it already and can't get it back - Best advice is to get out IF you can.


The table doesnt show the high rates of income tax, national insurance and council tax in the UK...IMO these have more impact than the factors in the table.

I believe that the UK, actually, has one of the lowest tax rates (tax as a percentage of GDP) in Europe.

The Polish and other nationalities come over here, usually share transport and accomodation, they work all the hours possible and save money; which is then sent back to their home land. Not forgetting free healthcare aswell and child benefit they can claim for their children at home. Very few of them actully intend to stay here forever.

Well I am sure Sultan Charles will do an excellent job. His first task will be to toss away the political class and the banking elite.

UK Retirement age 63 !?
Is the rest of this report as accurate as that?

Having just returned from Spain where the cost of food is considerably more than the UK, unemployment around 25%. Most Spaniards would love to come to the UK to work. Where on earth do you get some of these figures from? Our French friends come to England to shop and buy clothes, enough said!

@Vikram - I completely agree and that's exactly what a lot of Europeans do. They come over to the UK, work for a year then go back to Poland, Romania or similar and buy a nice big house in cash! And who can blame them? We've only got ourselves to blame for fuelling the housing market. Youngsters in the UK can't even save a small deposit towards the ridiculously overpriced houses here by working the whole year.

 If the UK is really that bad why do so many Europeans want to come and live here?

Wait a minute, am I the only one thinking  "what are they talking about" ?  The feature is mean to be about the best places abroad to retire to.  So what on earth have half of the factors shown got to do with it (ie number of days holiday, retirement age, working hours per week ) YOU HAVE ALREADY RETIRED ! The only relevant factors are VAT, fuel cost and food prices.  More quality journalism !