South of England dominates UK’s latest quality of life survey

by Ray Clancy on December 20, 2013

The leafy district of Hart in Hampshire in the south of England has been named as the most desirable place to live in the UK for the third year in a row, according to the 2013 Halifax Quality of Life Survey.

Would be expats might like to know that the top 50 places to live in the UK are again dominated by the South East with 24 found in this region, well ahead of the East of England which claims 12 of the top 50 spots.

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Areas in the South of England received higher ratings for weekly earnings, weather, health, and life expectancy

However, the number of areas outside the south in the top 50 has doubled in the last 12 months to 12 and now includes South Northamptonshire in third place, Rushcliffe in Nottingham in seventh, Rutland at 21, Harrogate at 33, Stratford-on-Avon at 35 and the Orkney Islands at 50.

Southern areas tend to receive higher ratings for weekly earnings, the weather, health, and life expectancy. Whereas Northern areas score well on education in terms of grades and smaller class sizes, lower house prices in relation to earnings, and lower traffic flows.

However, there were several big climbers in the top 10 places to live with South Northamptonshire climbing 27 places to third, Rushcliffe up from 22nd to seventh, and Winchester up from 34th to ninth.

The annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey takes a wide range of factors into account, including residents’ health and life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband access, and personal wellbeing.

Hart has managed to retain its position at the top of the Quality of Life Survey by scoring consistently highly across almost all categories. Hart residents are the healthiest in the UK, with 97.4% reporting being in good or fairly good health. They also live the longest in the UK, with an average male life expectancy of 82.9 years compared to the national average of 79 years.

The 80% employment rate is significantly higher than the national average of 71%, while gross average weekly earnings of £843 are £226, or 37%, higher than the UK average of £616. New Office of National Statistics figures indicate the adult population is among the most happy, satisfied and content in the UK.

The cost of living in Hart, however, is high. The average house price in Hart is seven times the average annual pre-tax local income, higher than the UK average of 5.8.

Uttlesford in Essex moved into second place from sixth in 2012, having performed particularly well on employment at 84% and weekly average earnings at £819.) Some 97% of residents enjoy good or fairly good health and at 81.8 years men have a higher than average life expectancy. But, living in Uttlesford is also expensive, with an average house price to earnings ratio of seven.

‘The old adage of Health, Wealth and Happiness is the traditional measure of a good quality of life. For the third year running Hart has delivered against a range of indicators to demonstrate its residents have the best quality of life in the UK,’ said Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax.

‘The Hampshire district scores highly on most of the measures used, including health, life expectancy, employment, average earnings, low crime, and relatively good weather. These factors are reflected in the fact that adults in Hart rate themselves among the happiest and least anxious in the country and believe what they do in life is worthwhile,’ he added.

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