Until around about Monday this week, Iceland, with its tiny population and incredible economy was rated by the UN as the most developed society on earth!  That’s quite a reputation to live up to I’m sure you would agree – but now that we have to face the fact that Iceland is bankrupt and it’s probably going to bring down the House of Fraser (how could they!), determining where in the world to live for the best quality of life just got a whole lot harder.  After all, if the most developed society on earth is no longer good enough for us – what chance have we got!

Everywhere you look there are reasons not to move to a given country – take Cyprus, on the surface its economy is peachy because apparently the domestic banks have EUR 6.5 billion more in deposits than they have in outstanding loans.  But then you realise that house sales have dropped by 40% so far this year and one leading developer was quoted in the press as stating: “we are in the middle of a crisis and there’s no room for sentiment.”

It seems that finding the best place in the world to live just got an awful lot harder.  So let’s look at the contenders…

The most developed society on earth is bankrupt, and the skies over Iceland are also growing increasingly dark and depressing as winter creeps in and the hours of daylight that the nation witnesses at this time of the year dwindle away to nothing.  So, let’s not move to live in Iceland.  According to the BBC, Australia is the most popular nation in terms of the numbers of Britons who live there…so should we also go and live Down Under?  Well, the IMF’s latest comment about the state of the health of world economies is actually relatively upbeat in terms of Australia’s prospects.  The International Monetary Fund has suggested that there will be growth in the region of 2.5% in terms of gross domestic product, with activity supported by commodity prices.

Sounds promising – but then Asian markets have fallen for five consecutive days, no matter what the Australian Central Bank does to restore confidence the nation’s stock market is sliding, and Australian politician Wayne Swan has come out and stated: “the Australian economy is not immune from global financial market turmoil, but we are better placed than many other countries around the world to withstand the problem.  Nevertheless, continuing instability in global financial markets remains a clear risk to Australia’s economic outlook.”  So because there is a degree of risk in Australia, it may not be the best place in the world for us to live.

Spain is the Beeb’s next choice of top location for Brits abroad – oh dear, now don’t get us started on Spain!  Spain’s economy is apparently in freefall as the nation is likely to be one of the next in Europe to enter recession.  House prices have dropped, home sales have dwindled, unemployment has increased, and the Spanish government is doing what it can to calm the panic sweeping the nation as depositors and savers fear for the safety of their cash in Spanish banks.  So nope, we doubt moving to Spain could be thought of as moving to live in the best place in the world right now either.

So what about the US – third on the BBC’s list of the top countries in which we British expats reside?  Yes, well, apart from the USD 700 billion bail out that has apparently been effectively sucked up and swallowed following the nation’s stock market slide this week, the fact that the nation’s leader is hiding in a cave somewhere waiting for us to “smoke him out,” (which won’t mean a thing to you unless you’re a fan of Michael Moore), and their housing market is in as much of a crisis as their economy as the entire country teeters on the brink of depression, it’s probably a great place to be right now!  NOT.  Moving swiftly on we have Canada – apparently immune to the global financial turmoil unless you read and believe the Canadian Financial Post which reports that “Canada’s economy will post little or no growth over the next year as world growth slows and the U.S. battles recession, a panel of Canadian economists said Monday.”

Ireland is fifth on the BBC’s list – well, Ireland is already in recession, up to 40% has been wiped off property prices so far this year apparently, and Irish banks saw up to 25% of the value of their shares being eroded on Monday this week.

My God, no matter where in the world you look we are surrounded by crashing markets, falling investor sentiment, declining property prices and house sales, and leaders doing little more than saying: “but it’s okay, we’ll do all we can.”  Perhaps we’d all be better off staying at home then?  But then there’s the fact that Alasdair (darling) is rapidly spending all the taxpayers’ spondoolies on buying bits of bankrupt banks.  Are we really all as doomed as it would appear we are?