behind Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Hungary
Britain has dropped to 25th place on a list of the best places in the world to live – behind countries such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Uruguay.
While France tops the poll for the fifth year running, the UK’s climate, crime rate, cost of living, congested roads and overcrowded cities have pushed it even further down from last year’s ranking at 20.
The Quality of Life Index, published by International Living magazine for the 30th year, says the French live life to the full, while Britons are over-worked.
In all, 194 countries are surveyed on nine criteria, including the cost of living, culture and leisure, environment, safety, culture and weather.
Australia is placed second after France, followed by Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand.
Even former communist countries where unemployment is still rife are considered better places to settle down in than Britain, with Lithuania and the Czech Republic coming in at 22nd and 24th place respectively.
The magazine says the French enjoy everything from Riviera beaches and Alpine ski resorts to what it describes as ‘the best health service in the world’
But it is the country’s bon vivant lifestyle that sets it apart.
While the British are infamous for a love of TV dinners and binge drinking, the French savour the finer things in life.
These include two-hour lunch breaks at cheap cordon bleu restaurants, and some of the best wine in the world.
Working hours are far shorter than those of their stressed British neighbours, who have less holiday entitlement too. The French take most of August off, view Sunday leisure as sacrosanct, and have more public holidays, as well as a lower crime rate.
‘In France, life is savoured,’ said Jackie Flynn, publisher of International Living. ‘I don’t think anyone will argue that France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The French love tidy gardens, pretty sidewalk cafes, and clean streets. Cities are well tended and with little crime.’
Variety is also seen as a major factor in France’s appeal, with the survey noting: ‘Romantic Paris offers the best of everything, but services don’t fall away in Alsace’s wine villages, in wild and lovely Corsica, in lavender-scented Provence. Or in the Languedoc of the troubadors, bathed in Mediterranean sunlight.’
Britain does not top a single category in the survey, which is compiled using official government statistics, data from the World Health Organisation and the views of the magazine’s editors around the globe.
The U.S. fell from third to seventh place because of the economic crisis last year. A magazine spokesman said: ‘Sustaining the American Dream has escalated out of the reach of many.’
Germany is widely praised for its efficiency and leisure facilities, with the magazine noting that ‘the Harz Mountains now has a specialist hiking trail for nudists. Germany is arguably the world’s most naturist-friendly country’.
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