Solihull named as the best place to live in the UK

by Ray Clancy on November 15, 2013

Many expats regard London as the place they want to be when they move to the UK but a town just outside Britain’s second biggest city, Birmingham, has emerged as the best place to live in the country.

Solihull, nine miles from Birmingham, is top of the UK Quality of Life Index which is compiled by comparison website uSwitch, while Scottish regions dominate the bottom of the list.

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Solihull topped index with factors including salaries, disposable household income and the cost of fuel, food and energy bills.

The study assessed 138 local areas for 24 different factors including salaries, disposable household income and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills.

Lifestyle factors such as working hours, life expectancy and hours of sunshine, were also included to provide a complete picture of the quality of life in each region.

While Solihull comes out on top, East and North Ayrshire is ranked as the worst place to live in the UK, with low income, poor exam results and low life expectancy, as well as a distinct lack of sunshine.

In second place is North Yorkshire, followed by Hertfordshire, South Nottinghamshire and Surrey. Then comes Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the top 10.

Solihull is considered one of the most prosperous towns in the Midlands, it is home to car maker Land Rover’s main production plant and the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) also falls within the borough as does a large chunk of Birmingham airport.

According to the report, people in Solihull pay high house prices, high energy bills and hefty council tax bills but these costs are outstripped by high average salaries of £27,435 a year and relatively high levels of disposable income of £17,359 a year.

Added to these are low mortality rates and high life expectancy of 81 years for men and 84 years for women. There is also above average broadband speeds of 17Mb, as well as cheaper car insurance premiums of around £528 per year.

By contrast, residents in East and North Ayrshire have average salaries of £24,242 a year and disposable income of £14,430 a year, some 17% less than in Solihull. Employment rates and life expectancy are also lower at 75 years for men and 80 years for women and broadband speeds of just 8Mb, are twice as slow as Solihull’s. Exam results are relatively poor and the regions experience less sunshine than the rest of the country.

The Scottish Borders are named as the next worst place to live, followed by Locabder, Skye and Lochalsh, Arran and Cumbrae and Argyll and Bute. Then comes Glasgow, Caithness and Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty, Clackmannanshire and Fife, Inverness and Nairn and Moray, Angus and Dundee, Kingston upon Hull and then Conwy and Denbighshire.

West London is names Britain’s richest region by a long way with average salaries of £35,500 and an annual disposable household income of £32,800, some three times higher than disposable income in Nottingham which is £10,834.

Surrey comes second for spending power, followed by Buckinghamshire and parts of outer London and Hertfordshire.

When it comes to essential household costs, people in Leicestershire spend the most on council tax, energy bills are highest in the East Midlands and petrol costs are highest in Northamptonshire.

Despite earning the most, West London is the most dangerous place to live, with the highest crime rates in the UK. Northumberland, ranked the eighth overall in Quality of Life Index, has the lowest rate of reported crime in the country.

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