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UK ranked fifth for quality of life

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The UK has come in fifth place while Ireland’s come last out of 15 European countries for the best quality of life.

Personal income, average working hours, weather and the cost of food in the largest 15 European countries by GDP have been ranked in order.

Switzerland tops the European Quality of Life Index from comparison site uSwitch with its envy-inducing personal income of €81,461, coupled with its low VAT of 8%. It also benefits from the longest average life expectancy at 83 years – above the UK at 81 years and Poland at 78 years.

The Swiss also boast the third fastest broadband speed in the study, at an average of 21.7mbps. But there is a price to pay; they have the longest working weeks (43 hours per week) and have one of the lowest number of paid holidays in a year, standing at 20.

In comparison, the UK has the highest number of statutory holidays per year at 28. The average working week stands at 42.8 and pay comes in at €43,995. The average age of retirement for men and women is 63 and the UK also has a low unemployment rate of 4.8%.

However, the UK ranks in fifth place, after Sweden, France and Austria, as food prices are low (though they are rising rapidly) and it comes top for spending on recreation and culture (5.9% of GDP).

The Republic of Ireland was shown to be the worst place to live.

Ireland is let down by having the least amount of sunshine per day (3.45 hours) and the second highest retirement age (66 years). The country is one of the worst for mobile signal coverage with mobile users only able to connect to 3G or better signal 83% of the time, is tied last for the least amount of statutory holiday days (20 days) and at 23% has one of the highest VAT rates in the study.

In its favour, the emerald isle has the cheapest rent (17% of net household income), personal income is fourth highest in the study at €53,967 and it ranks fifth out of 15 for average working hours (40.5 hours per week).

The table below compares the 15 European countries (click to enlarge):


Tashema Jackson, consumer expert at uSwitch, said: “It’s great to see the UK holding its own against our European neighbours, especially topping the table for wellbeing factors such as the amount of annual leave we take.

“But we still fall down in many key areas. As a world leader in business and innovation, we shouldn’t be fourth from the bottom for mobile phone coverage. We’re also one of the most expensive places in Europe when it comes to renting a place to live. Combined with a middling personal income score, this can make living comfortably a challenge for many families.”

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