SOURCE: International Living magazine

International Living magazine

January 06, 2010 09:00 ET

USA Drops to 7th Place as France Beats USA as "World's Best Place to Live" in "International Living" Magazine's 2010 Quality of Life Index

France, "Best Place to Live" 5th Year Running; Scores 100 for Healthcare

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - January 6, 2010) - France is the world's best place to live for the fifth consecutive year, while the USA fell from third to seventh place in "International Living" ( magazine's 2010 "Quality of Life Index" (January 2010), which rated 194 countries.

"The 'Quality of Life Index' isn't strictly about best value, but about places where the living is, simply, great. To produce the 30th annual Index "International Living" editors considered nine categories," said publisher Jackie Flynn: Cost of Living (15% of final ranking), Culture and Leisure (10%), Economy (15%), Environment (10%), Freedom (10%), Health (10%), Infrastructure (15%), Safety and Risk (10%), and Climate (10%). "This involves number crunching from official sources, including government websites, the World Health Organization, 'The Economist,' etc., and our global editors' perspectives."

Top 10

France received 82 points (out of 100); Australia (#2), Switzerland (#3) and Germany (#4) finished with 81. New Zealand finished fifth (79), followed by Belgium (78); The United States was seventh (78); Luxembourg eighth (78). Canada ninth, and Italy 10th, both with 77 points.

France -- France nets high scores in most categories, but its bon vivant lifestyle is unique. "I wish quality of life indicators could measure a country's heart and soul but it's impossible to enumerate the joy of lingering over dinner and a bottle of wine in a Parisian brasserie," said "International Living's" Flynn.

France scores high from healthcare (100) to infrastructure (92) to safety and freedom (100 points). But the main appeal of France is its lifestyle (81 points in Culture and Leisure category). Surprisingly, France remains an affordable place to live (cost of living score -- 55).

Provincial French properties are often keenly priced and lifestyles are less expensive than Paris. The Southwestern Midi-Pyrenees region offers good hunting for village homes under $100,000 -- and $14 three-course lunches. Houses cascade with wisteria; outdoor markets abound. Foie gras, pink garlic, Armagnac, and crystallized violets aren't gourmet fare, just another day's shopping.

USA Falls

"Although the U.S. remains in the top 10, at 7th place," says "International Living" Publisher Jackie Flynn, "We can't ignore the fall of the U.S. economy. In the economy category, the U.S. scored 67 points (up 10 points over 2009), but many sectors are still mired in recession and the 'American Dream' has escalated out of reach."

The United States scored: Cost of living, 56 points; leisure and culture, 79; economy, 67; environment, 62; freedom 92; healthcare, 78; infrastructure, 100; risk and safety, 100; climate, 84. Final score: 78 points.

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For 30 years, "International Living" magazine has been the leading authority on global retirement or relocation opportunities through its monthly magazine and e-zine, website and online bookstore. "International Living's" 200 correspondents investigate the best opportunities for real estate, travel, retirement, and investment. Visit

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