Monday 11th January 2010

France tops quality of life index for the fifth year in a row.

International Living magazine has named France as the best place in the world to live according to their latest survey.

According to International Living’s Quality of Life Index, published on the 5th January, France is top of the list of places to live abroad. The survey, which examines life in 194 countries across nine different categories, looks at how global countries stack up against one another in areas such as cost of living, entertainment availability, environmental conditions, safety and culture: "To produce this annual Index we consider, for each of these countries, nine categories: cost of living, culture and leisure, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety and risk, and climate," the magazine explains.

The index is relatively well respected throughout the expatriate community as it has been in existence for over thirty years and utilizes very stringent criteria when assessing the quality of life in each location. At the very least, it can provide a useful resource for those who are considering moving to a new location or are trying to decide where to emigrate.

This is the fifth time in a row that France has appeared in first place in the results of the survey and although it is a country that is known for high taxes and bureaucratic processes, the excellent health care facilities, high standard of living and cultural richness entailed that France was a clear winner.

Discussing the results, Jackie Flynn publisher of the International Living magazine, commented: “I don't think anyone will argue that France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, where there is so much pride in all the small details. The French love little window boxes filled with flowers, tidy gardens, pretty sidewalk cafes, and clean streets. Cities are well tended and with little crime.

"The Southwestern Midi-Pyrenees region is a particularly good hunting ground for village homes for less than $100,000 and classic three-course lunches for $14."

Second place in the survey was awarded to Australia, which jumped from its placement as fifth the previous year, with this expat favorite being particularly noted for its outdoor lifestyle, good climate, lively culture and reasonable cost of living.

"Australia's economy has managed to weather the Global Financial Crisis better than any other Western country. For tourists and travelers, this means you'll be dealing with a strong Aussie dollar, making your visit there more expensive. But if you plan to stay, you'll find that few English-speaking countries with quality health care and good infrastructure will benefit as much as Australia from the economic booms in Asia and China.

"The Australian economy is powered by agricultural, mineral, and energy exports that feed the voracious appetite of rapidly industrializing populations in Asia. Housing in Australia remains expensive by global standards. But there are plenty of jobs for skilled expats who can ride the Asian boom from the sandy, sunny, and safe beaches of the land Down Under." The magazine stated.

Australia was followed by Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Luxembourg, United States, Belgium, Canada and Italy. Germany, in particular, was noted for high levels of efficiency and excellent leisure facilities. The survey noted: "In Germany, everything works and works well. Its houses are built to last, and their legendary autobahns are still mostly without speed limits.

"If you enjoy sports, even small towns have numerous facilities. Some odd ones too. The Harz Mountains now has a specialist hiking trail for nudists. From spas to parks to North Sea beaches, Germany is arguably the world's most naturist-friendly country."

The United States, despite having the highest score for infrastructure, dropped four places from third to seventh and was believed to have suffered as a result of the slow pace of economic recovery in the region. According to the magazine: "Sustaining the 'American Dream' has escalated out of the reach of many".

It was very bad news for the United Kingdom, which fell five places in the poll to position 25. The poor results were blamed on the poor climate, high crime rates, high cost of living, overcrowding and congested roads. The UK press took the ranking very badly, with a popular tabloid, The Sun, ranting: “Even former Communist countries where unemployment is still rife are considered better places to settle down in.

“The Czech Republic and Lithuania were not even accepted into the European Union until 2004.” Referring to the fact that Lithuania and the Czech Republic had ranked ahead of the United Kingdom in positions 22nd and 24th, respectively.

Somalia appeared in last place on the quality of life index, with Yemen, Sudan, Chad and Afghanistan also appearing near the end of the 194-country list.

Read the full article: http://www.internationalliving.com/qofl2010

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