The best place to live in the UK.


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

The district of Hart in Hampshire is the best place to live in the UK, according to the seventh annual Halifax Quality of Life survey. The leafy district has secured the top spot for the third year running. However, thanks to the inclusion of a new Office for National Statistics survey into people’s personal wellbeing there have been a number of changes to the top ten.

The bank ranked 405 local authority districts based on factors including: residents’ health, life expectancy, earnings, employment, crime rate, weather, traffic flow and even broadband internet access to determine the best place to live.

Here are the top ten places in the UK with the best quality of life according to the report:

1.Hart, Hampshire
2. Uttlesford, Essex
3. South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire
4. Waverley, Surrey
5. East Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire
6. Elmbridge, Surrey
7. Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
8. Wokingham, Berkshire
9. Winchester, Hampshire
10. Chelmsford, Essex

Hart kept top spot thanks to scoring consistently highly across almost all categories. For example, gross average weekly earnings for residents of the town stand at £843, compared to the UK average of £616. It also boasts an employment rate of 80%, compared to the national average of 71%.

It’s not just about money though. Its residents are the healthiest in the UK, with 97.4% reporting being in good or fairly good health. They live the longest too, with the male life expectancy at 82.9 years, while the national average stands at 79 years.

Perhaps more notable though is Uttlesford’s jump from sixth place last year to second spot in 2013. According to Halifax, what helped most was the inclusion of the new ONS survey. More adults in Uttlesford believe that what they do in life is worthwhile than anywhere else in the UK, one reason they are among the most satisfied and happiest in the nation.

North/south divide

Areas in southern England dominate, with 24 of the top 50 alone found in the south east. However, the number of places outside the south to make the top 50 has doubled over the past year to 12. While southern areas did well for things like weekly earnings, the weather, health and life expectancy, northern towns did well for education (both grades and smaller class sizes), lower house prices in relation to wages and lower traffic flows.

Category winners

Hart did consistently well, but there were plenty of other towns that topped different categories.

The proportion of adults (16 years and over) with the highest level of qualification gained (such as a degree, NVQ level 4 and above or professional qualification) is the highest in the City of London (94.8%). It is followed by Richmond upon Thames (70.4%), and Wandsworth (69.6%), all significantly above the national average of 34.8%.

100% of homes in East Ayrshire have central heating. The national average is 96%.

The lowest traffic levels are found in Western isles, Highland, Argyll and Bute, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands. The highest traffic flows are in Watford, Gosport, and the City of London.

Orkney Islands has the lowest burglary rate per 10,000 people (1.0) followed by Western Isles (5.4), North Norfolk (7.3), Broadland in the East of England (8.0), and Eden in the North West (8.1).

The lowest average annual rainfall (508 mm) is in Castle Point in Essex. Eight of the ten driest districts in the UK are in the East of England.

The sunniest place in the UK is the Isle of Wight where residents enjoy an average of 37.4 hours of sunshine a week. The national average is 29.7 hours.

The best GCSE results in England are in Craven in North Yorkshire where 94.6% of pupils achieved five or more GCSE grades A-C followed by Epsom and Ewell (93.3%), North Kesteven in Lincolnshire, Bromley and Sutton (all 93.2%).

Adults (16 and over) in Fermanagh in Northern Ireland have the highest average rating for life satisfaction in the UK. Based on a score out of ten, the adults in Fermanagh had an average rating of 8.2.The UK average is 7.5.

Christopher Macgowan

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