Hart is top place to live in the UK, survey shows

by Ray Clancy on December 26, 2011

Top 50 places to live in UK dominated by southern England

Hart in Hampshire in the south of England has been named the best place in the UK to live in terms of housing, environment, education, health and jobs.

While Shetland is the top location in Scotland, according to the sixth annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey tracks which tracks living standards based on data gathered from a number of sources including Point Topic (Broadband data), ONS, DEFRA, the Met Office, the Department for Transport, Department of Children, Schools and Families, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Government and the Scottish Executive.

Hart has a low crime rate, relatively good weather, and factors such as good broadband internet access. Some 95% report having good or fairly good health and average life expectancy is higher than average at 81.7 years for men.

The employment rate is high with almost three quarters of 16 to 64 year olds in occupation, with many residents enjoying high incomes with weekly average earnings of £841 which is 40% above the UK average of £606.

The survey also found that 91% of all households in Hart have a good level of broadband access, compared to 82% for the UK as a whole.

However, living the good life comes with a price. Average house prices in Hart are 6.3 times average annual local earnings, considerably above the UK average of 5.25.

Hart is closely followed by Elmbridge which has held the top position in the survey for the past three years. The Surrey district scores well on employment rate (74%), weekly average earnings (£1,127); 95% of residents enjoy good or fairly good health and live on average for 81.8 years. However, living there is also expensive, with an average house price to earnings ratio of 7.82.

The top 50 best places to live in the UK is dominated by areas in southern England, with just over half, 27, in the South East and a further 15 areas in the East of England. These areas include East Cambridgeshire (4th), St. Albans (7th), Maidstone (8th), South Cambridgeshire (9th), Epsom and Ewell (10th), and Tunbridge Wells (12th).

There are just four areas outside the south in the top 50; Wychavon in Worcestershire (6th), Rushcliffe in Nottingham (16th), Rutland (22nd) and North Kesteven in Lincolnshire (36th).

Areas in the south tend to score highly on weekly earnings, the weather and health and life expectancy. Whereas areas in the north tend to receive high ratings on low house price to earnings ratios, environmental measures such as low population densities and low traffic flows, as well as smaller primary school sizes.

Employment is highest in Maidstone in Kent where the rate is 84%, closely followed by the Shetland Islands, (83.8%) and West Somerset (83.7%).

The highest weekly average earnings are in Kensington & Chelsea (£1,521 per week) followed by City of London (£1,239), Westminster (£1,141) and Elmbridge (£1,127).

The biggest homes are in Wychavon in Worcestershire with an average of 7.4 habitable rooms followed by Derbyshire Dales and Hertsmere both with seven rooms. Some 90% of homes in the Western Isles have central heating, closely followed by Blackburn and Darwen at 89%.

Traffic flows are lowest in Scotland, which has eight of the 10 best ranked districts on this measure. The lowest traffic levels are in the Western Isles, the Highlands, Argyle and Bute, Orkney and Shetland Islands. The lowest burglary rates per 10,000 households are in the Western Isles at 3.8, followed by the Orkneys at five.

The lowest population density in Britain is in the Western Isles and the Highlands with just nine people per square kilometre. The average for the UK is 257.

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