Despite the title of the Rolling Stones’ 1965 hit song (and today’s blog post), according to the lyrics, they were never able to get any satisfaction. Luckily that’s not the case with overseas visitors who settle in France, according to a recent survey I read about last month. In fact, we find ourselves in a country that ranks 4th out of 45 countries when respondents were asked about the quality of life, and we totally agree.
Whenever someone asks us why we chose to move to France, our first response is always the same: the quality of life. For 9 years, the bank HSBC has surveyed their customers worldwide and others resident outside their country of origin about factors including economics, family, and the general experience of living in a different culture. Within that last category is the Lifestyle subheading where France seems to excel. An analysis I saw said that almost 2/3rds of newcomers like us reported an improvement in their quality of life since moving. Sounds like we’re in good company.
So why are people so happy here? We’re retired, but many said that the work/life balance made things less stressful with 35-hour weeks and a month or more of vacation. As you might expect, food and wine played an important role. Farm-fresh, high quality, locally produced fruits and vegetables and wine at reasonable prices certainly keep smiles on our faces. And speaking of smiling, friendly locals who provide a warm welcome to new arrivees despite any language barriers is one more reason on the survey and in our experience.
The list continues with a low cost of living where, US retirees at least, can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on Social Security benefits alone. Great healthcare comes with prices to match. A visit to the doctor costs 23 euros/dollars and many physicians devote more time to house calls than office hours. We find a general lack of materialism where people here work to achieve a reasonable level of comfort without being driven to work longer to make more money but have less time with family and friends. Nice weather is important to happiness and in Carcassonne it almost never snows and we can leave the windows open to avoid using air conditioning. With “recent” history being 2000 years old in our own neighborhood, and having visited caves not too far away that were inhabited by humans almost 20,000 years ago, there’s no lack of former times to investigate.
We are far from being America-bashers, and grateful for our upbringing, but I’m certain that many will want to know where the USA stands in the statistics. In this survey, if you look just at quality of life as perceived by settlers from other countries, it ranks at number 26 out of 45 countries. We felt welcome in America and now we feel welcome in France. Yep, we’re pretty lucky.