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The 50 best rural areas to live

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For quality of life, you can't beat these 50 rural locations!


Halifax has been doing some digging into our quality of life in Great Britain.

It examined 119 Local Authority Districts to find the 50 rural locations where living standards are highest.

To find these 50 'rural hotspots', Halifax ranked local performance based on 17 key factors, covering the labour market, the housing market, the environment, education and health.

Uttlesford wins

Uttlesford in the north west of Essex has topped the poll. Here’s why:

  • People that live in Uttlesford earn a decent average wage of £819 a week, compared to the national average of £608.
  • Uttlesford residents also benefit from a high employment rate of 84%, compared to the UK average of 74.4%.
  • They're in excellent health. 96.7% reported general good health and the average life expectancy in the area is a whopping 81.8 years.

This is the first time Uttlesford has topped the survey. Prior to 2014 the Essex district had made the top five on three separate occasions; coming second in 2013, third in 2011, and fourth in 2010.

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East, East Midlands and the South East

Once again the survey was dominated by local authorities in the East of England, East Midlands and the South East.

15 of the top 50 rural areas are found in the South East this year, while the East of England makes up 12 of the best and the East Midlands claims nine.

Just three are found in Yorkshire & the Humber and two in the West Midlands.

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Top performers

Let’s take a look at which local authorities stood out in some of the different categories:

Employment: Highest in South Northamptonshire (88.9%) in the East Midlands, ahead of Uttlesford in the East of England and West Dorset in the South West (both 84%).

Average earnings: Top place is Chiltern at £926 a week in the South East, ahead of Waverley (£902) also in the South East and East Hertfordshire (£825) in the East of England.

Most affordable: Copeland in the North West has an average house price to earnings ratio of 3.3, ahead of East Ayrshire (3.6) and Western Isles (3.9) in Scotland.

Lowest burglary rate: The Orkney Islands has just one burglary per 10,000 households on average, followed by Western Isles (5.4) and North Norfolk (7.3).

Good health scores: Chiltern, West Berkshire, South Cambridgeshire and Aberdeenshire all had 96.8% of local households rate themselves as in good or fairly good health.

Lowest rainfall: Maldon in Essex has the lowest average annual rainfall of the local authorities at 552mm. Six of the ten driest districts are in the East of England.

Sun: The sunniest place is the Isle of Wight, where residents get to enjoy 37.4 hours of sunshine a week. The top five sunniest districts are all found in the South East.

Small primary school class sizes: This category is dominated by Scotland, with eight of the top ten districts. West Isles has an average of just 16 pupils per class.

Best GCSE results: Craven in Yorkshire & the Humber has taken this one, with 94.6% 15-16 year olds getting five or more GCSEs graded A-C.

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The 50 rural hotspots

Here are the top 50 rural Local Authority Districts to live, as ranked by Halifax:

Rank

Local Authority District

Region

1

Uttlesford

East of England                              

2

South Northamptonshire

East Midlands                                

3

Waverley

South East                                   

4

East Hertfordshire

East of England                               

5

Rushcliffe

East Midlands                                

6

South Cambridgeshire

East of England                              

7

Vale of White Horse

South East                                   

8

Chiltern

South East                                    

9

Mid Sussex

South East                                   

10

South Kesteven

East Midlands                                

11

North Kesteven

East Midlands                                

12

Rutland

East Midlands                                 

13

East Cambridgeshire

East of England                              

14

East Hampshire

South East                                   

15

Maldon

East of England                              

16

South Norfolk

East of England                               

17

Melton

East Midlands                                

18

Mid Suffolk

East of England                              

19

St Edmundsbury

East of England                              

20

Malvern Hills

West Midlands                                 

21

Aylesbury Vale

South East                                   

22

Test Valley

South East                                   

23

Ryedale

Yorkshire and the Humber

24

Orkney Islands

Scotland                                     

25

New Forest

South East                                   

26

West Dorset

South West                                   

27

Tonbridge and Malling

South East                                   

28

South Oxfordshire

South East                                    

29

Hambleton

Yorkshire and The Humber

30

Broadland

East of England                              

31

North Dorset

South West                                   

32

Harborough

East Midlands                                

33

Selby

Yorkshire and the Humber

34

Cotswold

South West                                   

35

North West Leicestershire

East Midlands                                

36

West Berkshire

South East                                   

37

Wychavon

West Midlands                                 

38

Tewkesbury

South West                                   

39

West Oxfordshire

South East                                   

40

Suffolk Coastal

East of England                              

41

Babergh

East of England                               

42

Wiltshire

South West                                   

43

Shetland Islands

Scotland                                     

44

Huntingdonshire

East of England                              

45

East Dorset

South West                                    

46

Cherwell

South East                                   

47

Wealden

South East                                   

48

Tandridge

South East                                   

49

Newark and Sherwood

East Midlands                                 

50

East Devon

South West                                   

The best rural area in your region

Region

Local Authority District

Ranking

East of England  

Uttlesford

1

East Midlands  

South Northamptonshire

2

South East                                   

Waverley

3

West Midlands

Malvern Hills

20

Yorkshire and The Humber  

Ryedale

23

Scotland                                     

Orkney Islands

24

South West    

West Dorset

26

North East                                   

Northumberland

63

North West                                   

Ribble Valley

65

Wales                                        

Monmouthshire

70

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