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The best place to live in the UK

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On 20 December 2014


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Halifax crunches the numbers for its seventh annual Quality of Life survey.


The district of Hart in north east Hampshire has been named the UK’s most desirable place to live for the fourth year in a row.

The Halifax Quality of Life Survey is now in its eighth year, and rates districts by a range of measures, including residents’ health and life expectancy, overall well-being, weather, employment and the local crime rate.

Hart scores highly on all of these and more, but living there is not cheap. Average house prices in the area are 7.4 times the average annual pre-tax income of the local people. That’s a much higher ration than the national average of 6.2.

So it helps that the locals in Hart have much higher average weekly earnings: £839 per week, compared to the national average of £629.

The top 10 locations

The survey findings name the following 10 local authority districts as having the best quality of life:

Ranking

Local Authority

Region

1

Hart

South East

2

Elmbridge

South East

3

Winchester

South East

4

Rutland

East Midlands

5

Chiltern

South East

6

Uttlesford

East of England

7

South Northamptonshire

East Midlands

8

Rushcliffe

East Midlands

9

Wokingham

South East

10

Waverley

South East

Source: Halifax Quality of Life Survey

Elmbridge in Surrey has topped the survey four times in the past, but moved up to second place haven fallen to sixth in 2013. Rutland has broken into the top 10 after climbing 17 places, and Chiltern rose 10 places to fifth.

The only area of Scotland to place within the top 50 were the remote Orkney Islands in 47th place.

North/South and Irish divide

Just like last year, areas in South East dominate the list, with 26 in the South East making it into the top 50. This number is up from 24 last year.

Southern areas tended to have higher ratings for weekly earnings, the weather, health and life expectancy, while Northern areas scored well on education (in terms of grades and small class sizes), lower house prices in relation to earnings and lower traffic flows.

Although many of these ‘top’ locations are clustered around the South East of England, it was adults in Antrim, Northern Ireland, who had the highest average life satisfaction scores with a rating of 8.8 out of 10.

[|SPOTLIGHT]They were also the most likely to believe what they do in life is worthwhile, joint top with Fermanagh, both scoring 8.9 out of 10, compared to the national average of 7.8. Adults in Moyle, Fermanagh and Antrim were also the happiest in the UK. All three of these districts are located in Northern Ireland.

Other category winners

The highest weekly average earnings are in Kensington & Chelsea, at £1,372 per week. The UK average is less than half of that, at £629 per week.

The City of London boasts the largest proportion of adults with the highest level of qualification. A whopping 94.8% of the population here hold a degree, NVQ level 4 (and above) or a professional qualification. The UK average is just 34.8%.

Eden in Cumbria has the highest employment rate of 87%, which is well about the UK average of 71.9%.

Life expectancy at birth for males is joint highest in Hart and South Cambridgeshire at 83.0 years.

The sunniest place in the UK is the Isle of Wight, which enjoys on average 36.9 hours of sunshine a week. The national average is 29.5 hours.

Castle Point in Essex has the lowest average annual rainfall, 525mm versus the national average of 878.8mm per year. Nine of the ten driest UK districts are in the East of England.

The Shetland Islands in Scotland have the highest percentage of 15 year olds with five or more GCSES A-C grades – 94.3% against the national average of 82.4%, while the Western Isles of Scotland have the lowest number of pupils in primary school classes, with just 17 in each class.

The Orkney Islands still have the lowest burglary rate per 10,000 people (1.0).

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