The UK and Ireland have been named as the worst places to live in Europe for quality of life, according to research published today.
The UK has the 4th highest age – 63.1 – at which people choose or can afford to take retirement, and one of the lowest holiday entitlements. Net household income in the UK is just £2,314 above the European average, compared with £10,000 above average last year, falling behind Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
UK workers enjoy a week less holiday than the European average and three weeks less than the Spanish, while the UK's spend (as a percentage of GDP) on health and education is below the European average and UK food and diesel prices are the highest in Europe. Unleaded petrol, electricity, alcohol and cigarettes all cost more than the average across the continent.
If it is any consolation, Ireland is even worse off. It has the lowest numbers of hours of sunshine, the second lowest government spend on health as a proportion of GDP and the second highest retirement age of 64.1.
If that's not bad enough, France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Italy all enjoy a longer life expectancy than the UK, according to uSwitch.com's latest Quality of Life Index.
For the best quality of life France comes tops. France enjoys the earliest retirement age (joint with Poland), spends the most on healthcare (11% of GDP) and has the longest life expectancy in Europe at 81.09 years. Its workers also benefit from 36 days holiday a year – compared with just 28 in the UK – and it comes only behind Spain (second in the rankings) and Italy for hours of sunshine.