Quality of life in Britain is the worst in Europe

29 September 2011

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


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