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France Best Quality of Life in Europe

Tuesday 01 November 2011

Yet another survey puts France top of a list of the best place to live in Europe, and it is also remains the holiday homes top spot for UK buyers.

This latest survey was carried out by uSwitch.com, a UK based comparator site for consumer services and products.

They publish an annual quality of life index across the main countries of Europe based on 16 factors, including net income, VAT and the cost of essential goods such as fuel, food and energy bills, as well as lifestyle issues like hours of sunshine, day's holiday, working hours and life expectancy.

The factors which gave France its top overall rating were the low retirement age, high level of sunshine, life expectancy, health spending, and the price of gas and electricity, food and alcohol.

However, it was only in relation to health, life expectancy and electricity prices where France actually topped the poll, with Spain, as ever, hot on its heels on a number of factors, although only performing better in hours of sunshine and fuel prices.

In relation to food prices, France was the second least expensive country in the survey with an average basket of food costing £120.78, compared to £145.30 in the UK and £124.54 in Spain.

Perhaps much to the surprise of many, France performed least well in relation to working hours, with an average of 38 hours per work, only exceeded by Poland (40.6 hours) and Spain (38.6 hours).

The length of the working week was compensated by the 36 days of leave a year, compared to an average for the group of 33.5 days.

On sunshine, France had an average of 2124 hours of sun per year, against the UK average of 1387 hours. Sunniest country was Spain with 2559 hours, followed by Italy with 2409.

France Holiday Home Top Spot for Brits

In a separate survey carried out by Savills International, the UK based estate agents, France continues to be the most popular location for a second home for buyers from the UK.

'France did not see the dramatic house price decline of neighbouring Spain and its banks have continued to lend on second homes, thereby stimulating the market. The relative stability of this market and its ease of access from the UK mean that buyers remain confident to invest', says the report.

Although there was a small decrease in overall sales, the figures showed that the percentage number of UK holiday home owners choosing to buy in France had increased from 26% in 2007/11 to 28% in 2009/11.

The improvement in sales of holiday homes in France was mainly at the expense of sales in Spain, which has suffered a bad press in recent years with a 'boom and bust' image and which has a higher number of new developments and investor buyers rather than 'lifestyle' buyers.

The report also indicated that lettings demand was on the rise, and France seemed to provide home owners with the better opportunity to cover costs or make a profit from their rental income.

Rebecca Gill, research analyst at Savills International and the author of the report, said: 'Clearly, holiday home owners and tourists share similar preferences for overseas properties. Strong underlying 'lifestyle demand' for a property helps to support an investment case. It is these fundamentals that drive longer term capital appreciation and attract rental income'.

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