French Lifestyle Best in Europe
Thursday 15 October 2009
The study examined a range of variables, such as net income after taxes, the cost of essential goods such as fuel, food and energy, along with lifestyle factors such as hours of sunshine, holiday entitlement, working hours and life expectancy, to provide a picture of the quality of life experienced in each country.
The index was produced by the website uSwitch.com, a comparator site for consumer services and products. They publish an annual quality of life index across the main countries of Europe.
According to their study, France enjoys one of the lowest retirement ages, has the longest life expectancy in Europe and spends the most on healthcare. It also has one of the highest levels of spending on education.
French workers also benefit from 34 days holiday a year – compared with only 28 days in the UK – and it comes only behind Spain and Italy for hours of sunshine. France has an average of 1,967 hours of sunshine per year, compared with 1,476 hours in the UK.
The study shows that money does not buy everything, for the UK has the highest net household income in Europe. At £35,730 it is £10,325 higher than the European average.
However, people living in the UK also have to contend with a high cost of living - the average household energy bill alone adds up to an eye watering £1,239 a year while they also pay £1,175 a year in council tax.
Even travel is expensive with a 30 mile journey into London on a train setting commuters back over £3,000 a year.
Drawing on official figures from the EU, the study shows that the same basket of goods that costs £134.48 in the UK costs £124 on average in Europe and only £118.76 in France, which enjoys the lowest food prices amongst those countries in the study.
While they earn less, the French also have some of the lowest alcohol, electricity and gas prices.
France is the biggest investor in health, spending 11% of GDP on health, closely followed by Denmark and Germany.
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