Orkney named as Scotland’s best place to live

ORKNEY residents have the highest standard of living in rural Scotland, according to a new report.

Orkney was named Scotland's best place to live. Picture: Wiki Commons
Orkney was named Scotland's best place to live. Picture: Wiki Commons
Orkney was named Scotland's best place to live. Picture: Wiki Commons

In a list dominated by English locations, Orkney at number 21 is just one of two Scottish regions, along with Aberdeenshire at number 49.

Halifax’s annual Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey takes into account residents’ health and life expectancy, crime rates, weather, employment, school results, broadband access and personal wellbeing.

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The East Midlands town of Rutland tops the list overall, with more than 96 per cent of residents in good or fairly good health

Rutland residents also enjoy a relatively good climate, with less rainfall per year than the national average along with more weekly hours of sunshine.

However, the cost of living in the town where the Mallard broke the world speed record for steam locomotives comes at a hefty price, with the cost of living there higher than in many other parts of Britain.

Average house prices are around 6.7 times the annual pre-tax local incomes, compared with the national average of 6.2.

Chiltern, Uttlesford, South Northamptonshire and Rushcliffe made up the rest of the top five.

Chiltern has moved up six places in 2015 to second place, up from number 8 in 2014. The inhabitants of the Buckinghamshire district tend have a high average life expectancy of 82.2 years and 97 per cent report good health.

The top 50 rural places to live in Britain were again dominated by the South East, with 14 districts found in this region, followed by the East of England, which claims 10 of the top 50 spots.

Aside from Rutland, other areas away from southern England in the top 50 included Hambleton in North Yorkshire and Monmouthshire in Wales.

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Southern areas tend to receive higher ratings for weekly earnings, the weather, health and life expectancy, while northern areas score highly on education in terms of grades and smaller class sizes, lower house prices in relation to earnings, and both lower traffic flows and population densities, Halifax said.

There were several big climbers in the top 20, with Huntingdonshire rising 36 places to number 9, South Oxfordshire up 19 places to 10, Babergh in south Suffolk moving from 42 in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and West Oxfordshire moving 27 places to 13.

The main reason for these changes is that personal well-being of adults has improved since the last survey, with adults being more satisfied, happy and less anxious about their lives, Halifax said.

The survey is based on data from various sources including Halifax, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the UK, Welsh and Scottish governments.

Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: “Rutland has moved up 11 places to the top spot in the 2015 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

“Taking a wide range of economic and social factors into account, residents here can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain.”

The report also found that the biggest homes are in Uttlesford in Essex, Chiltern and Rutland which all have an average of 6.4 habitable rooms. The average number of habitable rooms in Britain is 5.5.

The most affordable homes when compared with local earnings are in Copeland and East Ayrshire, where a property costs 3.8 times the local wage typically.

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The report also found that 100 per cent of homes in East Ayrshire have central heating, compared with the national average of 96 per cent.

Here are the top rural areas with the best quality of life according to Halifax:

1. Rutland, East Midlands

2. Chiltern, South East

3. Uttlesford, East of England

4. South Northamptonshire, East Midlands

5. Rushcliffe, East Midlands

6. Waverley, South East

7. South Cambridgeshire, East of England

8. Mid Sussex, South East

9. Huntingdonshire, East of England

10. South Oxfordshire, South East

21. Orkney Islands, Scotland

49. Aberdeenshire, Scotland

And here are the places with the best quality of life in each region according to Halifax, followed by their overall ranking:

• East Midlands, Rutland, 1

• South East, Chiltern, 2

• East of England, Uttlesford, 3

• Scotland, Orkney Islands, 21

• Yorkshire and the Humber, Hambleton, 22

• West Midlands, Malvern Hills, 25

• South West, Tewkesbury, 30

• Wales, Monmouthshire, 46

• North West, Ribble Valley, 56

• North East, Northumberland, 76