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France tops 2010 Quality of Life Index

11 January, 2011 13:43  Erin Erin

As we start 2011, International Living offers the 2010 rankings of the best places to live. Every January, 194 countries are ranked to find which location offers great quality of life. Wherever you are, you can be happy....but maybe in these top spots life is just a bit better.

RankingsWine and cheese © Natalia Klenova

1. France
France has won International Living's Quality of Life Index over and over. The country has one of the world's best health care, well priced properties and goods outside of the cities, and a relaxed and joyful way of life. Luxuries like foie gras, pink garlic, Armagnac, and crystallized violets are just a special treat for those that live in France. Many of the reasons for France's prestige are intangible, such as "...the joy of lingering for hours over dinner and a bottle of red wine in a Parisian brasserie. Or strolling beside the Seine on a spring morning, poking through the book vendors' wares. Or buying buttery croissants in Bohemian Montmartre…hearing Notre Dame's bells…walking antique streets paved with poetry."
Con: Endless bureaucracy and high taxes
Overall Score: 82

1. Australia
Called the "Lucky Country", Australia features long beaches and temperate climate. Citizens enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle, with those in the cities enjoying great culture and excellent food. Australia's economy made it through the Global Financial Crisis better than many other Western country. In addition, the cost of living is below that of some of the world's other great cities.
Con: Strong Aussie dollar makes visiting more expensive. Housing in Australia remains expensive by global standards
Overall Score: 81

3. Switzerland
Switzerland has taken natural disadvantages of being landlocked, mountainous, and without natural resources and become super-efficient, high-tech, and still charming. The country embodies internationalism as five different languages are commonly spoken and its banks are among the best in the world.
Con: Very expensive to visit
Overall Score: 81

4. Germany
Germany's cities offer strong personalities from Berlin's urban techno scene to northern cities summer rock festivals, to the Goethe, Beethoven, and volksmusik of other cities and towns. Along with a rich culture, Germans have the time to enjoy it. People receive 30 days paid annual holiday, get paid for 13 months of work, and the average employee earns 41,509 euro.
Con: What borders on obsession of law and order.
Overall Score: 81

5. New Zealand
This peaceful country boasts some of the most pristine landscapes on earth. Much of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed here. Sports, beach-life, and healthy lifestyles are prized. "In many ways it's not what we have that's important to our quality of life - it's what we don't have. We don't have high crime rates, our police don't carry guns and instances of corruption are virtually unheard of. We don't have abject poverty or hunger and we don't have the pollution, congestion, health issues and cramped city living that we see elsewhere."
Con: It can be difficult to immigrate to the country without a contract, or by becoming an investor
Overall Score: 79

6. Luxembourg
If ranked purely on number of Michelin-starred restaurants per square mile, Luxembourg would be the winner. A founder member of the EU, it's national motto is "Mir welle bleiwe wat mir sin" (We want to remain what we are). Luxembourg is also among the world's richest countries, with a third of Luxembourg's 420,000 inhabitants born elsewhere.
Con: Generally overlooked, living in one of the richest countries is pricey.
Overall Score: 78

7. United States
The United States offers something for everyone. From the hip metro of New York City, to the wild, wild west of Montana, to the home style cooking of the south. The land of convenience, there may be no where else in the world you can have what you want, when you want it.
Con: Convenience has a price. Greatly affected by the world wide economic crisis.
Overall Score: 78

8. Belgium
This merchant city has prospered since medieval times. Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp are all postcard perfect. Brussels is the headquarters of the European Union and NATO and is ringed with parks as Europe's greenest capital.
Con: Full of bureaucrats, the city can be a bit tame for the wild at heart.
Overall Score: 78

9. Canada
Stretching from the islands of Newfoundland to Vancouver Island and all the way north to the Arctic Circle, Canada is vast. Health care and living standards are among the highest in the world and natural resources abound. Canada actually came through the global financial crises intact with the banks being deemed "more Swiss than the Swiss banks".
Con: 90% of the population lives very close to the US border and the two countries are inexplicably tied.
Overall Score: 77

10. Italy
Italy is a proponent of "La dolce vita" (the sweet life). Rome, Venice, and Florence all evoke romantic visions of pasta, quaint neighborhoods, notable artwork's, and beauty.
Con: The transportation system can be infuriating, workers frequently strike, and corruption isn't unheard of. Major cities and tourist hotspots are expensive.
Overall Score: 77

Complete List of Scores

For the complete list, go to the full index with scores.


    To produce this annual Index, countries were measured on:
  • Cost of Living- (15% of the final ranking) Compares cost of living to that in the U.S. Uses the U.S. State Department's Index of Overseas Living Costs. Also considered each country's income tax rates.
  • Culture and Leisure - (10%) Calculate the literacy rate, newspaper circulation per 1,000 people, primary and secondary school enrollment ratios, number of people per museum, and a subjective rating of the variety of cultural and recreational offerings.
  • Economy - (15%) Consider interest rates, GDP, GDP growth rate, GDP per capita, the inflation rate, and GNP per capita to determine each country's Economy score.
  • Environment - (10%) Population density per square kilometer, population growth rate, greenhouse emissions per capita, and the percentage of total land that is protected.
  • Freedom - (10%) Freedom House's 2009 survey is the main source for these scores, with an emphasis on a citizen's political rights and civil liberties.
  • Health - (10%) Consider calorie consumption as a percentage of daily requirements, the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public health expenditure as a percentage of a country's GDP.
  • Infrastructure - (10%) Looked at the length of railways, paved highways, and navigable waterways in each country, and equated these things to each country's population and size. Also considered the number of airports, motor vehicles , telephones, Internet service providers, and cell phones per capita.
  • Safety and Risk - (10%) Used the U.S. Department of State's hardship Differentials and danger allowances.
  • Climate - (10%) Considered average annual rainfall and average temperature. Also looked at natural disasters.

Each category was graded on a curve (scored relative to every other country). In each category the country is scored 0 to 100, with 100 being the best. This involves taking numbers from official sources, such as government websites, the World Health Organization, The Economist, etc.

Despite this scientific approach, quality of life can't be measured by numbers alone. The rankings are affected by personal preference and qualities that cannot be exactly measured.

Western Bias

International Living makes a note that this list is influenced by a Western bias. Preferences on culture and entertainment, climate, and safety are all somewhat objective. Also, statistics obtained from official government sources are not always current, accurate, or reliable. Some statistics may be estimated, outdated, or incorrect for any number of reasons.


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         EasyExpat on

oz [Reply]

australia is a 'country' ??
thoughts it twer' a whole biggie continent ....

moronic     19 Jan 2011, 11:22