Monday, 18 January 2010

Quality of Life

Reading an article about an unpleasant challenge facing British expats in the south of Spain reminded me that I was going to write about the International Living Quality of Life Index. Their website is a mess but dig around long enough and you'll find the 2009 Index. (I've just refound it and it seems to be in a different order than when I last checked.) Undeterred, I will continue as planned because I don't believe the list anyway.


internationalliving.com says "to produce this annual Index we consider…nine categories: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk, and Climate. This involves a lot of number crunching from “official” sources, including government websites, the World Health Organization, and The Economist, to name but a few. Once the data is collected, we also take into account what our editors from all over the world have to say about our findings." It's at that point you realise the list is no better than 'The Top 100 Movies of the Last Decade' or '50 Albums You Can't Live Without.' You can call it editorial opinion, guess work or names-out-of-a-hat; the one thing it isn't is scientific proof.


Nevertheless, curiosity kicks in and the natural reaction when presented with a list like this is to check where you are living ranks on it. If that different from the place you come from you'll probably check that too, and you might check the place you'd like to live next. Then you'll start looking at the neighbours above and below those countries on the list.


So it was that I scrolled down the list, annoyingly supplied without numbers, in search of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I found it nestled just below Albania, sitting above the Bahamas! I remember Albania being Europe's oppressive, closed state. At that time Bosnia and Herzegovina was part of Yugoslavia; Europe's more open-minded expression of communism. I was surprised Albania had the upper hand. Perhaps it was just on alphabetical merit!


The Bahamas, however, really only conjure up images of white sandy beaches and palm trees. It took a moments thought to remember that outside of the picture perfect resorts life is hard and corruption is high. You might escape trouble on a two week summer break but it makes the islands a less attractive proposition for living overseas. Despite rationalising the result, and ignoring my general skepticism of the whole list thing, it is comforting to know I live somewhere with a better quality of life than a tropical paradise!

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