Britons pay more for food and fuel than other European citizens, while spending more time in the office per week and enjoying less sunshine.
Their disposable income levels are also falling behind residents of other countries, and funding for health and education is below average.
Only Ireland fares worse than Britain in an updated quality of life index for Europe compiled by uSwitch.com, as the republic has fewer hours of sunshine, a higher retirement age and lower public spending on essential services. Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, the price comparison website, said: “Last year compared with our European neighbours we were miserable but rich, this year we’re miserable and poor. “Whereas some countries work to live, UK consumers live to work. In fact we work harder, take less holiday and retire later than most of our European counterparts – but the high cost of living makes this a necessity rather than a choice. “With salaries failing to keep up with inflation, it’s likely that we’re a long way from achieving the quality of life that people in other countries enjoy.” Last year’s league table of 10 leading European economies – assessing income, prices, working culture and public spending – put Britain in last place. This year it has jumped above Ireland but in some respects Britons are now faring worse than residents of other countries. Britain now has the fourth-highest retirement age of any country – averaging 63.1 years – and is set to rise still higher. Net household income after tax, at £37,172 a year, is now lower than the amount earned in Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark. This is likely to fall still further when VAT rises to 20 per cent in the New Year, while public services will suffer following next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which will lead to budget cuts of up to 40 per cent in some Whitehall departments. France and Spain again topped the quality of life index, as workers there have more paid holidays, earlier retirement, lower prices, longer life expectancy and more sunshine.