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How quality of life improves when you move to France

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How quality of life improves when you move to France
A beach in Cabourg, northern France. Photo: AFP
13:56 CEST+02:00
Expats who live in France enjoy a jump in their quality of life, a global study has revealed.
While the study didn't make pretty reading for France in general, France ranked an impressive fourth out of 45 when it came to quality of life, streets ahead of the US in 26th and the UK in 30th.
 
In fact, a full 63 percent of expats responded that their quality of life had improved since moving. 

So what exactly is it about France that makes these expats radiate? We asked followers on The Local's Facebook page to tell us exactly how their life quality had improved. 
 
Here's a taste of their responses:
 
Better work-life balance
 
Several said that life in France was "less stressful", linking this to the importance that French people put on their out-of-work time. 
 
"People work to live and not live to work," says Australian Leonie Roustan.
 
Facebook commenter Christos Tiger from the UK noted that he now enjoyed a commute of only 12 minutes to work.
 
And while at work, it's no surprise that expats find the pace relaxing, with a 35-hour work week and a generous five weeks of vacation on offer at most jobs. 
 
Friday afternoon in France? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr
 
The food (and wine)
 
Another hot topic was the food - especially the fresh produce. 
 
F Joseph Leonard-Peray said the quality of the veggies and fruits was "incredible", noting that most was labeled as to where they were grown in France.
 
Others raved about their market offerings free of pesticides and meat without hormones. 
 
Of course, the classic French dishes were a big draw too. 
 
"The taste of the wonderfully fresh items in the boulangerie from the croissants to the baguettes is unrivaled in the world. The demand for fresh and tasty food makes France a destination for gourmet lovers," Leonard-Peray added.
 
While we're on the subject of the dinner table, people were quick to praise the selection (and the cheap price) of a good bottle of wine. 
 
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A farmer's market in Aix-en-Provence: Photo: Zen voyager/Flickr
 
The friendly people
 
Where on earth did this "unfriendly French" reputation come from anyway? Many readers of The Local said that the friendly locals played a key part in their own good quality of life. 
 
UK native Bob McNair, now in Brittany, said: "I am made to feel welcome by total strangers despite being an immigrant and despite my currently very small command of French."
 
Sandie Clark added: "I have never felt unwelcome, our neighbours and the local people in general have been so friendly, especially when they see you trying hard to speak their language."
 
While those in bigger cities like Paris may argue that it's a lot harder to make friends with neighbours (let alone meet them), those in the countryside were quick to disagree, it seems. 
 
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Line dancing with the locals in Pézenas. Photo: Jonathan Miller
 
Property is cheaper
 
One other key point, presumably for people living outside of Paris, was the relatively cheap price of buying property (and living there).
 
One reader noted that he had bought "a small home with a modest plot of land in the countryside, for a price that in most UK cities would not buy a lock-up garage".
 
Affordable and good health care
 
Many readers pointed out the good level of health care in France and the impact it can have on lives.
 
Jim Lovell said: "We are Americans. After moving here in the Var, my husband's cholesterol levels improved so much, he has been taken off almost all of his medications. And health care is WAAAY more affordable ! We love it here ! I doubt we will ever go back."
 
The space
 
France just doesn't feel as packed and as busy as some countries according to some readers. The "spacious countryside" as one put it, is no doubt a plus factor.
 
Lack of materialism
 
Is France less matierialistic and commercial than the United States and the UK? Many readers thought so and the country was all the better for it.
 
Miscellaneous
 
Other points that cropped up included the pleasure of shops being closed on Sundays (a divisive issue, of course), and the generous holiday allowance (generally five weeks a year). 
 
Others pointed to the warm weather, the rich landscapes, the petanque pitches, the history, and that the French people can apparently enjoy the sun without getting sunburnt (according to an Aussie, anyway).
 
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Pétanque (or boules) Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

The negatives
 
Of course, you can't please everyone (and after all, 37 percent of expats responded that their lives hadn't improved).
 
We'll give the last word to Megan Russler, for balance. 
 
"Bahaha! Seriously? It's more stressful! People are rude and pushy, no-one does their job right the first time so you have to run after them, the administration is completely messed up and there is no logic at all. Everything is a battle. The wages/salaries are HORRIBLE!"
 
She added that she is "finally" leaving after 11 years.
 
But for most others France seems to offer La Belle Vie they had hoped for when making the move.

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