The best places to live in the UK

Updated on 31 January 2020 | 2 Comments

All sorts of factors go into calculating the top place to live, from average house prices and local salaries to the number of pubs!

East Hertfordshire has been crowned the best place to live in the UK in the latest quality of life survey from Halifax.

Each year the report ranks the local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales based on 26 different factors, from local employment rate and average wage to average hours of sunshine per week and general happiness rating from local residents.

And East Hertfordshire ‒ home to market towns like Bishop’s Stortford and Hertford ‒ took top spot.

Halifax noted that residents in the area feel particularly fit, with almost everyone (97%) reporting good or fairly good health, while East Hertfordshire also boasts significant average wages, with the 12th highest of any authority covered by the study.

On top of that, figures from the Office for National Statistics place residents among the most happy and content in the UK, with high life expectancies, while schools in the area also rack up impressive exam results.

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The 10 best places to live

Here’s how the top 10 lines up according to the Halifax study:


Local authority



East Hertfordshire

East of England                              



South East                                



South East                                   



South East                                   



East of England                              



Yorkshire and The Humber                     



Yorkshire and The Humber                     



East of England                              


St Edmundsbury

East of England                              



South East                                   


It’s notable that the list is dominated  by local authorities in the East and South East of England, with only Seby and Hambleton featuring from outside of those two regions.

In fact when you stretch it out to the top 50, the dominance of the South East and east becomes even clearer. The South East takes 18 of the top 50 places, while the east accounts for nine of the top 50.

Besides Selby and Hambleton, the only other places in the North of England to crack the top 50 are Ryedale (11th) and York (48th). All four are found in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Only one region north of the border makes the top 5 too, with the Scottish Orkney Islands taking 18th position, while not a single local authority in London features in the top 50. The highest placed local authority in Wales was Vale of Glamorgan in 126th position.

Health comes first

Halifax noted that all of the top three ‒ East Hertfordshire, Fareham and Hart ‒ scored particularly well on factors related to wellbeing.

Both East Hertfordshire and Hart for example notched up notable scores on life expectancy, with males average 82.5 years (three years above the national average) and females typically living to 85 (two years above the national average).

Hart and Fareham also score really strongly for both life satisfaction at an average of 8.2 out of ten, compared to 7.8 for the nation at large.

And they also boast significantly higher employment levels ‒ while the country as a whole has a score of 75%, this jumps to 82.2% in Fareham and 87.2% in Hart.

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The top performers

Orkeny, Scotland has high employment and is quite pretty too (Image: Shutterstock)

Of course, when it comes to working out where you want to live, different factors will be more important to different people ‒ if you have no kids, you probably aren’t that fussed about the typical classroom sizes, for example.

So here’s a selection of results from the survey, highlighting which local authority came top, and how they compare to the national average.

  • Orkney (pictured above) in Scotland had the highest employment rate at 88.2%, miles higher than the national average of 74.9%.

  • Copeland in the North West had the lowest house price to earnings ratio at just 3.5 times annual salaries. This is less than half the national average figure of 7.4.

  • If big houses are what you’re after, then Fermanagh and Omagh in Northern Ireland is the place to look. While the UK as a whole has an average size of 113 square meters for houses, this jumps to 159 in the local authority.

  • Orkney is also the place you’re least likely to be burgled, with rates of 3.2 per 100,000 people, compared to 41 for the rest of the UK.

  • Castle Point in the East of England has the lowest average annual rainfall at 525mm (national average of 869.9mm), while the Isle of Wight enjoys the highest average hours of sunshine at 36.9 hours a week, compared to the national average of 29.7 hours.

  • Derbyshire Dales boasts 22 pubs per 10,000 residents (7.8 for the UK as a whole), while Islington is top for health and fitness centres with seven per 10,000 residents, up from 1.5 for the UK generally.

  • Finally, less than half of the premises in the nation (47.5%) have access to superfast broadband, but this certainly isn’t the case in Luton, where a whopping 95% of premises can enjoy mega speeds online.

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