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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 12:44 GMT
Where is the best place to live?
If you live in Ireland you are in the best place in the world, according to a "quality of life" assessment by the Economist magazine.

Ireland was followed by Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg, the USA was in 13th place, while Britain was 29th - the lowest of the pre-expansion EU nations.

Researchers took into account not just income, but also health, freedom, unemployment, family life, climate, political stability and security, gender equality and community life.

Where is the best place to live in the world? Why do you think the UK was so low on the list? Tell us what you think by using the form on the right.

This debate is now closed Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

I left Ireland almost 20 years ago for Bermuda and don't regret it one bit
Anne, Bermuda
Bermuda is the best place to live in the world. No pollution, beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, great standard of living and just two hours' flight from New York if you want some city life. I left Ireland almost 20 years ago for Bermuda and don't regret it one bit.
Anne, Bermuda

Manchester. We could not care less what other people think and if we had the chance we would sell the rest of the country off.
Javed, Manchester, UK

All those people complaining about the rain in the UK should remember that it generally falls on Ireland before it gets to UK and hasn't affected the Irish rating.
David, Dubai/UK

East or west, home is best! Ask a person from Lapland, he will also agree with me!
Srinivasan Toft, Humlebaek, Denmark

Regensburg, Germany. Having been there twice as an exchange student I loved its central location. Easy access to the south and the Alps, the east and Prague, the north and west. Beautiful city. Rich culture and history.
Shawn Hampton, Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Having immigrated to Canada from the US I would definitely vote for Canada
Chuck Easton, Calgary, Canada
Having immigrated to Canada from the US a mere four and a half years ago I would definitely vote for Canada. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, and the bluest skies I've ever seen. My citizenship comes through in the next couple of months and I can't think of a single thing that would ever make me want to move back to the US.
Chuck Easton, Calgary, Canada

I would like to live where I was born - in the Ukraine. But there is no health care, almost no freedom, not to talk about political stability. And the European Union does nothing, though it happens in the centre of Europe.
Sergey, Israel

The Highlands of Scotland. I visited there a couple of years ago during a very misty, cloudy summer. I loved every bit of it. The countryside is so very beautiful and the local people are wonderful, warm and friendly. I can't wait to visit again. I would live there if I could.
Jacquie, Front Royal, USA

I'm not so sure you can say that a certain place is the best place to live for everyone. It depends on the individual and what they like. All in all, the best place for me is Michigan, USA. I had the opportunity to live there, and Northern Michigan in the fall is just beautiful!
Tsutomu, Japan

The Netherlands is a country that respects its citizens
Teighlor, Austin, USA
My vote would be for the Netherlands, Amsterdam specifically. It is a country that respects its citizens by allowing them to make moral decisions for themselves, and tries to afford everyone the same opportunities. The policemen there are part of the community, your friends. Lack of crime, art appreciation and freedom are what make Amsterdam superior.
Teighlor, Austin, USA

I am probably one of the few here that would give up the UK for the American mid west. I spend a reasonable amount of time each year in Iowa and find that the living conditions, quality of life and sense of security outweigh any bad points, and all are superior to what I experience in the UK. As for the issue many people have with the president, I am not a fan of his, but at least he sticks to his principles which is more that our prime minister can say.
Eddie, UK

For an active and interesting quality of life, I would suggest around Glen Coe near Ben Nevis. Right in the middle of the Scottish Highlands on the West Highland trail with the beauty of Nevis on your doorstep and the lakes!
Max Richards, Wales

Best place to live is where you are happiest
Stuart, Woking

Best place to live is where you are happiest. If you have your friends and family around you and walk outside your door and can smile then you are on a winner. Poor weather, crime, litter and all the other bad things are a global problem. Since childhood I remember being told, and now really believe that the grass is rarely if ever greener!
Stuart, Woking

Australia. I have never been to a more comfortable, welcoming country on earth - and I am fairly well travelled. It is fun, beautiful, and the people are friendly and diversified. If I had my way, I would go to Queensland tomorrow and most likely never come back.
Pat, Pennsylvania, USA

Quality of life is subjective. It depends on what is important in your life. I disagree with the ranking of Switzerland and Luxembourg. I haven't been to such boring places in my life so far.
Xavier, France

The UN's annual Human Development Report (HDR), an independent study commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme, measures the wealth of nations by the standard of living of their population and considers several indexes related to life expectancy, education, health care, economy and environment to determine the best countries to live. The 2006 report named Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands as (year 2006) best five countries to live. Canada had topped the list several times in the past.
Joe C, Toronto, Canada

If I could convince my wife - we would both be out of this country at the first available opportunity. Destination - anywhere - but most likely Australia/New Zealand.
Paul, England

Definitely Malawi
Hankie Uluko, Nairobi, Kenya
Definitely Malawi. The country is so beautiful and the people give warm welcome. Britain is so expensive.
Hankie Uluko, Nairobi, Kenya

Right now Canada is looking awful good. Then Australia. I only speak English so language is a consideration. Politics has to also enter into the equation. Florida is warm but who wants to live in a place that has become so neoconservative and has a health care system tied to wealth?
Donald Luke, Florida; USA

It has to be the St Tropez area of the South of France. I have an apartment there, and while I'm in England I tick off each grey, miserable hour until the next time I can get down there. Only four weeks, 2 days and 2 hours to go.
Richard, Gloomy UK

Italy gets my vote - its beauty is matched only by the charm of its inhabitants, with its history, culture and climate unsurpassed by anywhere else.
John, London UK

Without question, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Truly God's Country. Sad to say, but Britain's overall attitude, weather and class system that still exists makes me realise that I did the right thing when I left in 1957. The number of Brits presently moving to other EU countries speaks for itself. Wake up Britain! Next year you may be even lower on the list.
Allan, Delta. Canada.

The south of Ireland is certainly the most hospitable place I have ever visited as a tourist.
Jon Davis, USA

Gloucestershire - I can leave car unlocked at night, I am unlikely to be mugged on the way to the pub, not too expensive to live, plenty of work, plenty of culture best countryside in Europe, 2 hours from central London, 2 hours from the south coast.
Andy, Gloucester, UK

Canada. Great people, great country. Like the USA but without a stupid President.
Dave Godfrey, Swindon

Having lived in Norway I would class that as THE country to live in. The standard of living is superb and the people are the friendliest I have had the pleasure to meet.
Ste, Staffs

Australia and New Zealand...they have Vegemite!
Sam, Arlington, VA
If I were to choose a place to live from among the many countries I have travelled to, it would be a very close tie between Australia and New Zealand. The people there are incredibly friendly, the weather is very nice, the air is clean, and they have Vegemite!
Sam, Arlington, VA

The U.S. was ranked 13th. I wonder if that makes it the most unlucky place to live.
Brendan, Harrisburg, PA

I knew as soon as this Have Your Say topic was raised everybody would say how crime-ridden, lousy, uncaring and overcrowded the UK is but to all these people would you prefer to be living in for example Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan or in the Congo - no, I am sure you wouldn't. I think that many people in the UK are just empty and unfulfilled and think that moving somewhere else will make their life better. If this is the reason, moving will make no difference.
Andrew, Woking, UK

Devon without a shadow of a doubt. The only possible excuse for disagreeing would be if you haven't been there! Lush, rolling countryside, beautiful, dramatic coastlines and the best cider on Earth.
Sam Sanders, Alfington, Cevon

I might come from a grimy industrial town in West Yorkshire but to me there's nowt wrong with the UK!
Rob, Dewsbury

I think I live in the nicest place, I have a view of beaches from my window with seals on the rocks, there is snow on the hills the other way, we have no crime, no traffic, houses are affordable, the social life is great and insurance is low, so where is this place you wonder....sorry you have to find these places for yourselves otherwise it will be spoilt!

The Yorkshire Dales
Dave Mac, London
The Yorkshire Dales. There is no other place on earth that comes remotely near. The reason the UK was so low on the list is probably because the panel was the jury they use for the Eurovision nonsense. They should be shut in a room for a week with a Cliff Richard Christmas song.
Dave Mac, London

What a ridiculous survey. How can the USA not be split out in to at least separate states? There are huge differences in living in New York City, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Detroit.
Ian, UK

There are plenty of lovely places in the world to visit, but in terms of somewhere good to live long term, my requirements are pretty precise. Hardly any snow in the winter please, because I can't play golf in the snow. Proper beer served in proper pubs, not nasty cold lager served in "bars". A Cricket Ground where Test Matches are played within easy travel. The only place that provides all of the above, and is therefore tolerable in terms of living, is... er... England!
John, England

Alcester of course! Though its beauty is rather tarnished by the blot on the landscape that is Stratford-upon-Avon! Failing that I'd settle for anywhere with mountains, rivers and decent woodland.
Nick Payne, Alcester, UK

Crosspool in Sheffield: close to superb countryside, excellent state schools, good shops, nice people!
Lawrence, Sheffield, UK

If I told you the best place to live you'd all come and ruin it. So hush!
Pat Hopper, Secret

Australia is the best place in the world. It has a whole variety of climates, its very clean, getting around is easy, the people are friendly, eating out is cheap, sports facilities are excellent and the natural beauty is amazing. So almost the opposite of Britain.
Lee, London, UK

Possible my first choice would be Holland
Ollie, Southsea, England
Possible my first choice would be Holland. Ever since I first went there I completely fell in love with the way of life and the kindness of the Dutch people. So many people when they think of Holland only think of Amsterdam, but for the real Holland you need to go to other cities Den Hague, Tillburg and Groningen in the north. This is where real Holland is and this is where I would like to live.
Ollie, Southsea, England

Sweden without a doubt. Even if you do have to pay a fortune for a pint of beer!
Helen, Gloucester

I'm always staggered to see Norway score so well on these surveys. It's well below zero outside my office window, it will be dark by 16.00, the cost of living is probably the worlds highest and Oslo is hardly Europe's cultural hub. Give me anywhere close to the Med - or for that matter, Ireland, any day!
NC, Oslo, Norway

Well I'd live in the Maldives given the choice. The UK was low on the list because of poor weather, high taxation, bad political leadership, loss of family life.
Fiona, Rainy Scotland

The South of England definitely. If you are on hour from the West End, an hour from the sea, an hour from the Cotswolds, you enjoy the BBC, great countryside and English pubs that's a good start. I think we came out low on the list because the people who compiled this list have different values and interests to me. Luxembourg - get a life!
Alan, South Oxfordshire, England

I would vote for the Tyrol region of Austria. It is so neat and clean, the people are friendly and the food and beer is great. The best bit must be the scenery - marvellous!
Gordon Sinclair, Nottingham

Ireland is a great place to live? For me, it was a great place to leave. We Irish believe far too strongly in the international myth that we are a nice, welcoming people. We are just as xenophobic, corrupt and crime-ridden as any other modern country (for example, Italy). This is not intended as an insult to my fellow Irish citizens; rather, it's a reminder that no place, and no people, could possibly be rated by any objective criteria as being 'the best'.
Colm Ryan, Milan, Italy (formerly Ireland)

Florida and Spain are the chosen destinations for anyone who can move
Michael Weidokal, Luxembourg (ex-US)
It appears that climate was not taken into consideration when they chose the top places in the world to live. I don't see hordes of people hoping to move to Ireland, Norway or Luxembourg, whereas places like Florida and Spain are the chosen destinations for anyone who can move.
Michael Weidokal, Luxembourg (ex-US)

Good for the Ireland, it is good to see that the enormous economic subsidies supplied by the EU, a good proportion of which come from the UK tax payers, is pleasing somebody. It must be reasonably easy to be the best place to live when others are paying for it.
Mike Hallq, Kingham, UK

I'm surprised by the assessment. Surely the likes of Australia or New Zealand should have won top place? There is something about Ireland though that simply draws people back to their home country - even though it never stops raining!
Karen Rafferty, Belfast, N Ireland

If you notice they are all democracies. That is not a coincidence. Especially if you are a woman or child.
Laura , USA

How can they take all of those factors into account and not come to the same conclusion as the UN Human Development report, which states (almost every year) that Canada is the best place in the world to live?
Jez, Bristol, UK

Why was England so low on the list? Easy, low expectations and high negativity. High taxes - wasted, abysmal public transport network, Third world healthcare, unaffordable house prices, a growing thug culture, uncontrolled immigration, the longest working hours in Europe, speed cameras...
Paul, Basingstoke, UK

To Paul, Basingstoke who claimed that the UK has a third world health system: I'd like to send you to the real Third world next time you need treatment and then perhaps you'd stop moaning. The free health service is one of the best things about living in Britain.
Emily, London, UK

Are you mad? Did the Economist magazine forget to look out of the window while surveying Ireland? Did they spot any police on the streets and take note of the increasing crime that has reached epidemic? Did they battle with the wind and the rain with an umbrella? Or did they oversee our transport system, or little there of?
Kris, Dublin, Ireland

Wherever I am currently has usually been the best place for me
John, Fleet, UK
Wherever I am currently has usually been the best place for me at that point in my life. Dreaming of the greener grass is perfectly normal but you have to decide for yourself. I never agree with these researchers.
John, Fleet, UK

The only thing that surprises me is that Britain is so high up. We live in a degenerating environment where people look after only themselves, and nobody has respect for property or individuals.
Martin, UK

Best place I've lived is Moscow. UK is surprisingly high on the list given it is such an expensive place to live, has a poor health service, education system, transport system etc. The one good thing about the UK is that there are plenty of cheap flights.
Richard Philips, UK

I find the results of this survey surprising. If freedom and gender equality are among the criteria, how come Ireland, a nation that prevents a woman terminating an unwanted (or even forced) pregnancy, scores so highly? Or indeed Switzerland, which only extended the franchise to women in some areas a few years ago? Most strange. As for the UK's position, it's far harder to achieve a coherent 'community life' in a large, diverse nation - witness also France's lowly position, and Germany's - than it is in a homogenous, monocultural nation of a few million.
Molly, UK

At the end of the day people are the best at deciding where the best place to live is - not surveys.
Richard, UK

Where is New Zealand in this list?
Paul, UK
Yet another pointless ordered list. How can these generalisations be made? If your priority is sunshine, how can Ireland and Norway even appear in your top 50! If you live for skiing, where is Ireland then? Where is New Zealand in this list? Everyone's criteria are different for what makes one thing better than anything else.
Paul, UK

Where was Iraq on the list?
Alfie Noakes, North of England, UK

I was born in United Arab Emirates and I would love to go back there. It is a free, peaceful nation which is not very old. In a place where it is close to war and religious conflict, people are very welcoming whatever your background.
Ian Mc, NW, England

New Zealand has my vote any day of the week. A nice relaxed pace of life, decent roads with not much traffic, vibrant cities and excellent unspoiled countryside with magnificent scenery. Can't be beaten.
Steve W, Southampton, UK

I've travelled around the world several times and still think that Dursley in Gloucestershire is the best place to live in the world. Friendly people who actually care for there neighbours. A real community which helps both young and old, children exploring the countryside playing with gay abandon. Exciting wildlife thrives in its natural habitats and sets the scene of tranquil bliss. With all necessary and entertainment amenities within close proximity this rural town called Dursley is where I want to be.
Matthew Higgins, Reading, UK

I find this hard to believe because Ireland is one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe
James McCabe, Leitrim, Ireland
I find this hard to believe because Ireland is one of the most expensive countries to live in Europe. Property, food and drink, insurance is among the most expensive in Europe. There is Irish website devoted to the term "Rip Off Ireland". The health service is a shambles. How Britain's quality of life is 29 places behind Ireland simply amazes me! Our social life does have a lot to offer though, that is it if you are a non smoker.
James McCabe, Leitrim, Ireland

Ireland has certainly come a very long way in the last few decades. Many of the Americans I have met who have been to Europe like Ireland better than the UK - people are friendlier, there is a small town cosmopolitan feel, and not the dislike for Americans that exists in other parts of Europe. Congratulations to Ireland!
Rachel, Minnesota, USA (ex Northern Ireland)

I think surveys such as this need to be taken with a pinch of salt - everyone with have gripes and praises about where they live. I do however think people in the UK especially should take some pride in the amazing country that we live in. It is shame too many of us and eager to leave our shores, when we have a fascinating country of our own to explore and admire.
Dave, Surrey, UK

I was lucky enough to live in the US for a few years and certainly found the standard of living to be superior to the UK in every way - it was a horrible shock to return to a country which was bad when I left and had deteriorated considerably in my absence. The Brits are dull and grey like the weather. They drink to forget about their problems but create more with excessive violence making going out after dark a very frightening experience. I wish I lived ANYWHERE ELSE!
Carol, Basildon, UK

Is 29th bad? It's still in the top 25%
Sam, Saltaire, Yorkshire, UK
In all the countries I've visited New Zealand was the most impressive. It is culturally rich, plenty to see and do with a relaxed attitude to life. The UK has many great points but I believe it's let down by overstretched road & rail networks and the homogenisation of our town centres (not forgetting the yob culture). I believe this survey is slightly ridiculous as how can a country as diverse as the UK be adequately assessed? Is 29th bad? It's still in the top 25%.
Sam, Saltaire, Yorkshire, UK

Ghana. Not very rich but very peaceful and nice environment, very good and non-discriminating police.
Kci Young, Ghana

Virtually every factor studied in this assessment follows on naturally from a good economy. While Ireland has done well from handouts given by the EU this will reduce drastically with the accession of Eastern European countries. Carry out the study in 5 years and you will see that the Celtic tiger died in the wild when its feeding in the zoo was stopped. For myself I wouldn't live in Ireland if you paid me.
Derek S, UK

I like to think of Tasmania as "Ireland without the troubles". The scenery is similar, but I admit we lack the wonderful heritage and culture. However, sometimes I think the "real" world is a long, long way away, and the way the world is going it makes Tasmania the best place in the world to live. Tasmania is slowly catching up, however! We left England 26 years ago. Too much political unrest, social violence and too crowded. But again, we miss the heritage and history.
Rick, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Anywhere outside of the UK. I can't wait to escape this overcrowded, violent, politically correct concrete jungle.
Keith, England

Perhaps one of reasons the UK ranked so low is because now a member of the world police. Let's face it, who wants to live in a country full of coppers!
Jim, Milton Keynes

I would say without hesitation Germany
Karen, Notts, UK
Coming from an army background I would say without hesitation Germany. I was fortunate enough to spend some pretty formative years there and found that young people have bundles of things to do. I always remember it being clean and I always felt safe. I remember Christmas time with the greatest affection - I don't think anywhere in the world can match a snowy German Christmas market with stollen and gluwein!
Karen, Notts, UK

I think the UK was 29th because of the climate... it's a lot like being in San Francisco. Other than that - a great country.
A Cipriani, Pennsylvania, USA

It's hardly surprising really isn't it? Everybody is so bloody miserable. The media is full of scare stories - one minute its crime, the next its food and health. TV is little better, with soaps full of violent and unbelievable story lines. On top of that we work the longest hours in Europe, have a rubbish transport system and a football team that can't win any game of importance. Lets have more quality of life and stop moaning all the time!
Matt , London

If Ireland is the best place in the world, why are there so many Irish people living here in England?
Joan Harris, Chester England

Well, I have been lucky to move to Ireland! The country is beautiful, the people are friendly... I have good standard of living. My only complaint is Irish weather.
Rumiana, Bulgarian, living in Ireland

Having just quit my job in London, I'm currently preparing to relocate to Dublin. The news that Ireland is the best place in the world to live seems to vindicate my decision. I am getting out of London because it is too expensive, overcrowded, over-rated and is no place to bring up a family.
James Campbell, London

The UK has scored low this year because it hasn't stopped raining.
Roger, Stockport, England

Ireland is named 'best country'
17 Nov 04 |  Europe

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