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The 50 rural areas of the UK with the best quality of life revealed

The Orkney Islands in Scotland are rated as the rural district of the UK with the highest quality of life for the second year in a row.

The wild and remote archipelago off the north coast of Scotland won the accolade for the best countryside living after scoring well on employment rate, education, crime rate and overall life satisfaction and happiness.

Rutland in the East Midlands shot up the chart to second place from 19th position last year, pushing Wychavon in the West Midlands to third place, according to Halifax’s annual survey.

Best rural districts: Orkney Islands top rankings for second year running

The survey takes into account a wide range of factors, from residents’ health, employment, crime rates and education to home size, broadband speed, pollution, weather and number of pubs and other leisure places.

The Orkney Islands had the highest employment rate in the UK and the highest average spend per pupil on education, while also scoring high in happiness and satisfaction and having among the lowest crime rates and anxiety levels in the country.

However, while there is plenty of space, the Orkney Islands have some of the smallest houses in Britain with an average of 4.6 habitable rooms per home – compared to the national average of 5.4 rooms.

The people living in Rutland in the East Midlands have the second best quality of life, with male and female average life expectancy of 82 and 85 years respectively, with nearly all adults considering themselves to be in good health.

Rural idyll: The Orkney Islands were named as the best place to live in the countryside

Rural idyll: The Orkney Islands were named as the best place to live in the countryside

Why the Orkney Islands won: They scored high in happiness and satisfaction and had among the lowest crime rates and anxiety levels in the country

Why the Orkney Islands won: They scored high in happiness and satisfaction and had among the lowest crime rates and anxiety levels in the country

Nine out of ten homes have super-fast broadband and, unlike the Orkney Islands, Rutland residents have some of the biggest homes in rural Britain, with an average of 6.4 habitable rooms per home.

Schools in the area also performed well, with the highest percentage (70 per cent) of 15-year-olds achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A to C in the UK.

Famous landmark: Water Park in Rutland, which has shot up the chart to second place from 19th last year

Famous landmark: Water Park in Rutland, which has shot up the chart to second place from 19th last year

Wychavon in the West Midlands, and Winchester and Waverley in the south east are also in the top five, scoring well on personal well-being and life expectancy. Waverley has the highest weekly wage in the UK at £921.

The report shows that almost a third of the top 50 best countryside places to live are in southern and eastern England, including nine districts in the south east and 10 each in both the south west and the east of England.

Scores well on life expectancy: Wychavon in West Midlands was the third best rural place  to live in the UK

Scores well on life expectancy: Wychavon in West Midlands was the third best rural place to live in the UK

Some of the areas outside these regions making the top 50 include Craven and Richmondshire in Yorkshire and the Humber as well as Stratford on Avon in the West Midlands and Monmouthshire in Wales.

Craven, which is in sixth place, has the happiest adults in the country, while Copeland in the north west has the lowest average house price to earnings ratio of 4, nearly half the national average of 7.5.

Feelgood factor: The area of Craven in Yorkshire has the happiest adults in the country

Feelgood factor: The area of Craven in Yorkshire has the happiest adults in the country

People living in Swale in Kent had the best internet access and the lowest CO2 emissions in the country, while the Isle of Wight was crowned the sunniest place, with its residents enjoying an average of 36.9 hours of sunshine a week (against a national average 29.8 hours). 

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax said: ‘With strong education and employment levels, low crime rates and residents loving life, not to mention breathtaking wide open spaces, the Orkney Islands have retained the crown of Britain’s best rural place to live. 

Best paid population: Waverley has the highest weekly wage in the UK at £921, Halifax said

Best paid population: Waverley has the highest weekly wage in the UK at £921, Halifax said

‘The winning formula for quality of life in the countryside seems to consistently include high employment levels and top scores on wellbeing, along with low school class sizes and high average spend per pupil – more than twice the national average.

‘However, there is more variety and balance across the country scoring strongly across each category this year, with rural areas in the south east receiving higher weekly earnings, while the East Midlands have larger property sizes.

‘On the southern coast, sunnier climates shine through in the rankings, while, lower house prices to earnings, wellbeing and class sizes give northern areas the desirability factor.’

2018 HALIFAX RURAL QUALITY OF LIFE RANKINGS – THE TOP 50 AREAS
Local Authority Districts Region       Ranking  
Orkney Islands Scotland       1  
Rutland East Midlands       2
Wychavon West Midlands       3
Winchester South East       4
Waverley South East       5
Craven Yorkshire and The Humber         
Richmondshire Yorkshire and The Humber        
Stratford-on-Avon West Midlands       8
Uttlesford East of England       9
Ryedale Yorkshire and The Humber       10
South Oxfordshire South East       11
Selby Yorkshire and The Humber       12
St Edmundsbury East of England       13
Suffolk Coastal East of England       14
Purbeck South West       15
Hambleton Yorkshire and The Humber       16
West Oxfordshire South East       17
Harborough East Midlands       18
Monmouthshire Wales       19
Eden North West       20
South Cambridgeshire East of England       21
Tewkesbury South West       22
Chichester South East       23
Babergh East of England       24
Maldon East of England       25
Cotswold South West       26
Aylesbury Vale South East       27
Wiltshire South West       28
West Dorset South West       29
East Devon South West       30
Mid Devon South West       31
Rushcliffe East Midlands       32
Malvern Hills West Midlands       33
South Norfolk East of England       34
South Lakeland North West       35
Vale of White Horse South East       36
South Hams South West       37
Huntingdonshire East of England       38
Horsham South East       39
North Warwickshire West Midlands       40
Shetland Islands Scotland       41
East Hampshire South East       42
Central Bedfordshire East of England       43
Derbyshire Dales East Midlands       44
North Devon South West       45
Mid Suffolk East of England       46
East Riding of Yorkshire Yorkshire and The Humber       47
Teignbridge South West       48
Ribble Valley North West       49
North Kesteven East Midlands       50
Source: Halifax      

 



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