Orkney tops list of best places to live in Britain

With stunning scenery and a good choice of pubs, the Orkney Islands enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain, according to a survey.

The islands score highly in terms of employment rate, average earnings, spend per pupil on education and crime rates. Picture: PA

Orkney came top of its annual list as it scores strongly in terms of its employment rate, average earnings and average spend per pupil on education, as well as low anxiety levels and crime rates, the survey by Halifax found.

Wychavon in Worcestershire was identified as the second most desirable place to live, scoring highly on average life expectancy and with 95 per cent of adults there being in good health.

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Wychavon residents also have some of the biggest homes in rural Britain, with an average of just over six habitable rooms, of which 98 per cent have central heating and 92 per cent of all houses have superfast broadband.

The Derbyshire Dales, Hambleton in Yorkshire and Purbeck in Dorset completed the top five, all performing well in terms of personal wellbeing and life expectancy, Halifax said.

Martin Ellis, an economist at Halifax, said: “With one of 
the lowest population densities and traffic levels in Scotland, some of the most stunning scenery in the British Isles and the lowest levels of anxiety and highest life satisfaction ratings, the Orkneys offer a quality of life unmatched elsewhere in rural Britain.”

Mr Ellis said a leisure category included in the survey “shows that residents in the Orkneys have a good choice of pubs from which to choose”.

House hunters searching for the good life in the Orkneys may also find it relatively affordable.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show average house prices there fell by 4.3 per cent annually in January to reach £108,224. The average UK house price was £218,000 in January.

Last year’s winner in the Halifax’s survey, South Oxfordshire, tumbled to tenth place in 2017, but still scores strongly on earnings, employment rate and a low crime 
rate. The annual survey gathers figures including housing, the environment and health.