David Worboys: Living in Europe was great

From pristine Germany to mountainous Spain, Western Europe has been a wonderful part of the world to live in

From pristine Germany to mountainous Spain, Western Europe has been a wonderful part of the world to live in. Image - David Worboys

During my lifetime, emigrants from all over the world have sought passage to a life in Western Europe. My impression is that this has been a wonderful part of the world to live in. I have fond memories of life in England, Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland. I have not lived in my favourite country which is Italy but have spent four months in marvellous Vienna.

England always lacked sunshine and good cooking but had many redeeming features. There was a free and accessible national health service, a respected, reliable police force and judiciary, stability in local and national politics and a good education system. It had picturesque villages and thousands of traditional country pubs with real bitter ale. Churches were well attended and people were in general courteous to each other and welcoming to visitors from abroad. My base was in the Chilterns.

Germany likewise lacked a warm climate and tasty food but was a model of cleanliness and efficiency. Its streets were safe and its products, from BMWs and windows to clothes and stationery, were of the highest quality. Its streets were clean, and its roads a joy to drive on. The bars (or Kneipen) had a cosy character and excellent Pilsener beer or fine white wines. The salaries and social security were generous. I was based just south of Frankfurt for three years.

Only France is both northern and southern European. It is at the heart of Europe and, like Italy, it is both Alpine and Mediterranean. Its scenery and topography were exceptionally varied and striking while the affordable regional food, wines and restaurants were second to none. For ten years we had a property in Provence.

Spain was less developed, unregulated and poorly organised but it always felt like home for me. It had a wonderful healthy outdoor life. The monarchy was highly respected and prices of petrol, transport, fine wines and eating out were far lower than in the other countries. The cities were glorious and coastal construction was under control. In 1975 I spent a summer working on the Costa Blanca and now live in Axarquia.

Switzerland, had a lot of snow and ice in the winter but was well prepared for it. It was also expensive but salaries and the standard of living were high. It had a reliable transport system and, like Germany and Austria, was efficient, advanced and clean and tidy. I worked and lived in picturesque lakeside Zurich for two years.

But immigrants from troubled, less fortunate countries want to move to the UK, because many of them speak some English and consequently already have relatives there. Ireland is far less accessible, especially for those desperate enough to risk boat crossings.

In their different ways they were all probably at their best forty to sixty years ago but are still among the most desirable countries to live in.


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