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Moving to France makes you smarter | Gillian Harvey

A study has found that escaping the rat race is just the beginning of all the clever things we do as Brits living in France - and I agree

When I look back at life in the UK and the scurrying rat-race endured by many, I cannot help but think I have done the right thing by stepping out of the matrix of British society and coming up for air in France. And now, it seems, there is an added benefit – my new lifestyle may have made me more intelligent.

A study by Keio University in Tokyo has discovered that working fewer hours each week can actually improve our cognitive ability. 

Proof, if it were needed, that those of us who opt for a slower pace of life on the continent are pretty damn smart. 

For many, the hop across the Channel signals a career as well as a lifestyle change – and with the spectre of the unaffordable mortgage often removed, it can in many cases be possible to tip the work-life balance more towards the latter.

Here many, like myself, end up as self-employed – setting our own hours and picking and choosing how and when we put pen to paper, fork to allotment or spruce up gites for the next influx. And while living in France has its own stresses – whether linguistic or domestic – on the work front at least we are now waving rather than drowning.

The Keio study said for optimum cognitive benefit we should clock up 25 hours of work per week as opposed to the average Briton who will work for 42; which bodes well for those of us who opted for a lighter workload.

Moreover, the study’s authors also say that working fewer hours can mean that we are simply working smarter, as productivity at this level seems unaffected. Of course, another benefit to cutting down our working hours is the fact that we can now enjoy more leisure and family time. 

Jo Harrison. a virtual assistant, now living in Saulgé, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, worked 40 hours per week back in the UK, with an additional two to three hours spent commuting daily. 

“Now I often don’t work more than three hours a day.

“I have more life than work.”

Ex-teacher Laura Blew, who runs a chambre d’hôtes in Peyrat-le-Château, Haute-Vienne agrees. “On average, I work less than I did before. My children are happy, and I spend less time indoors or sitting in my car.”

So when you are supping rosé on the terrace with visitors this month, do not forget to boast that, as well as living in warmer climes, learning a language and trying your hand at a new venture, you are boosting your brain-power to boot.

True, many of us now spend our “free time” relentlessly cutting grass, pointing seemingly-endless stone walls or struggling to master the past tense, but we are obviously far too clever to admit it.

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