The best places to live 2016
The tenth annual Halifax Quality of Life Index has ranked 250 districts across the UK to find out where living standards are highest. The research looked at 24 categories including average earnings, employment, health, life expectancy, personal wellbeing, education and broadband speed. Here are the top 20 places to live.
It’ll come as no surprise that the main reason London features anywhere near the top 20 is because of earnings. The average weekly earnings for the City of London stand at £1,106 per week, compared to the UK average of £646 per week. However, those living in the City of London have some of the smallest homes in the UK, with less than four habitable rooms, compared to the UK average of 5.5.
Horsham in West Sussex has dropped four places this year to secure 19th place. People living here enjoy above average earnings, employment, life expectancy, broadband and life satisfaction. However, the area generally scores less well on education with GCSE passes lower than the national average.
18. Shetland Islands
The Scottish Shetland Islands have bounced up to the top 20 this year, with the highest employment rate in the UK. At 89.4%, the islands’ residents are significantly more likely to land themselves a job than the rest of the UK, where the rate stands at just 73.7%.
The district of Waverley in Surrey has a few large towns including Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere. Although the area’s employment rate levels fluctuate, it does well in all other categories, especially broadband where almost every home has a broadband speed of more than 2Mbps.
16. South Northamptonshire
This district, which is home to the Silverstone Formula One race track, has fallen two places since last year, and nine places since the year before. The area still performs above average when it comes to weekly earnings, employment and life expectancy but it was less impressive on education.
15. West Dorset
The district of West Dorset, which includes towns such as Dorchester, Sherborne, Birdport and Beaminster, jumped up 19 places this year from position 34 in 2015. It is also ranked as the best place to retire to, due to high life expectancy, good health and general affluence.
14. Tonbridge and Malling
This Kent district has continually jumped up the table over the past two years, as it was at 42 in 2014, up to 29 in 2015, and now up to 14th. The area isn’t cheap to live in, but its residents are some of the happiest across the nation.
13. South Oxfordshire
South Oxfordshire has dropped 11 places this year, after it took second place in last year’s survey. The area, which includes Wallingford and Henley on Thames, boasts higher than average weekly earnings, good employment rates, longer than average life expectancy, a safe environment to live and high levels of personal wellbeing.
12. South Hams
South Hams has made a strong appearance this year, after not even making the top 50 in 2015. The area in South Devon is home to some of the most beautiful places in the country, and is well renowned for its beautiful landscape, quality local food, culture and gorgeous beaches.
11. West Oxfordshire
West Oxfordshire has also made it into the top 20 this year, after previously failing to appear anywhere near the top 50. The district, which includes towns such as Burford (pictured), Witney, Chipping Norton and other idyllic Cotswolds villages, is known for its relaxing pace of life and picturesque andscapes.
The district of Chiltern in Buckinghamshire is the 10th best place to live for quality of life according to the Halifax survey, moving down seven places compared to last year. It is one of the top areas for property size with an average of 6.4 rooms versus the UK average of 5.5 and was also top for female life expectancy, with women here living until the ripe old age of 86.7 on average, compared to 83.2 across the UK.
Wokingham has regained its space in the top 10 after falling out of it last year. The district in Berkshire boasts better than average scores for earnings, employment, life expectancy, GCSE passes, fast broadband, personal wellbeing and low levels of crime. Residents living here recorded the second highest score for good health at 97%.
8. St Albans
People living in this charming commuter town enjoy better than average earnings, employment, education and low crime levels. It also has the one of the highest proportions of adults with higher level qualifications such as a degree and recorded the third highest-paid residents in the UK with average weekly earnings at £1,018 per week.
This Dorset region, which is home to Corfe Castle, Wool, Swanage and Bovington, scored seventh place this year, after not making the top 50 last year. Much like the rest of Dorset, Purbeck is popular for retirees and families alike, as it is one of the safest, most affluent and picturesque areas in the UK.
6. South Cambridgeshire
South Cambridgeshire has moved up three places since 2015. The area is the top performing region for the East of England with residents here enjoying above average earnings, employment, life expectancy and personal wellbeing. However, it had the lowest level of fast broadband speeds in 2015, with 72% of homes enjoying a good speed compared to 87% nationally. It was also let down by below average GCSE scores at 64% compared to 68.6% UK-wide.
The area of Hambleton in the North East of England is home to the likes of Thirsk, Kilburn, Easingwood and Northallerton. It has soared 30 places this year up to number five, after sitting at 35 the year before. Securing a place in the top five places to live in the UK, Hambleton boasts one of the highest employment rates in the UK at 87.7%.
4. Derbyshire Dales
Derbyshire Dales also has one one of the highest employment rates, with 87.7%. And 45.1% of adults have a higher qualification, such as a degree or NVQ level 4 and above, compared to the national average of 35.6%. This area also has one of the largest number of bars and pubs for its residents, with 27 per 10,000 adults.
The third best place to live in the UK is this Worcestershire district, which includes the towns of Pershore, Droitwich Spa and Evesham. It boasts the highest number of health and fitness clubs in the land – 3.5 per 10,000 adults – which is perhaps why it scores highly on personal wellbeing and life expectancy.
2. Orkney Islands
Soaring from 83rd position last year to second position this year, the Orkney Islands in Scotland have the lowest burglary rate in the UK and people have the lowest level of anxiety, rating 1.9 out of 10. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the emptiest roads are also found on the islands.
The district of Winchester in Hampshire won the top spot in this year’s survey. It had one of the highest employment rates in all 250 districts included in the research at 83.1%, compared to a UK average of 73.7%. Crime rates are also among the lowest in the country and the adult population is among the happiest, satisfied, content and least anxious in the UK.