Hart rated 'best place to live in UK' for fifth consecutive year


Nestled in north-east Hampshire, the district of Hart has been crowned as the place with the best quality of life in the UK for the fifth year in a row.

But nowhere in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland made the top 50 in Halifax's Quality of Life Survey for 2015. 

Hart remained on top by scoring consistently highly across a range of categories looked at, covering residents' health and life expectancy, personal well-being, employment, crime rates and weather.

There was a shake-up this year, with South Oxfordshire climbing 19 places to take second place, Mole Valley in Surrey moving up 12 spots to seventh place, and Guildford, also in Surrey, up 15 to number 8.

The South East dominated the table, securing seven of the top 10 places.

More than half (27) of the top 50 places with the best quality of life were in the South East. The East of England claimed nine places in the top 50, while the West Midlands and the South West both had three places and the East Midlands had six places.

London also claimed a place in the top 50, with Richmond upon Thames at number 22, as did Yorkshire, with Hambleton.

In Wales, Monmouthshire was named as the district with the best quality of life.

Monmouthshire was placed at 61 in the overall UK rankings.

In Scotland, the Orkney Islands came out top, and were ranked at 83 in the overall survey.

In Northern Ireland, Mid Ulster, at 168 overall, had the best quality of life according to the findings.

Halifax said that northern areas tended to score highly on school exam results and environmental measures such as low population densities and low traffic flows.

Areas in the south of England typically performed better on average earnings, employment, health and the weather. 

Halifax said that residents in Hart were the healthiest in the UK, with over 97% reporting themselves to be in good health.

Women can claim a high average life expectancy of 86.6 years and for men it is 82.4 years.

Adults in Hart, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey on personal well-being, rated themselves to be among the happiest, most satisfied, believed what they did was worthwhile, and the least anxious in the country.

Hart also has a high employment rate and average full-time gross weekly earnings of £865 - 37% above the national average of £630.

Hart also has a relatively low crime rate, with 9.5 burglaries per 10,000 people, compared with a national average rate of 29.6 burglaries per 10,000 people.

The weather in Hart is also agreeable, with 32.5 sunshine hours per week, compared with 29.5 sunshine hours a week for the UK on average.

Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax, said: "A mixture of good health, high wealth and a generally happy life continues to cement Hart's place as the best place to live in the UK.

"Low crime rates, good weather, and a long life expectancy all play an important part in keeping this Hampshire district at the top of the pile."

In South Oxfordshire, sitting in second place, 97% of residents reported good health, and those with full-time jobs typically enjoyed high incomes, with weekly average earnings of £863.

The study also found that the highest weekly average earnings were in Kensington and Chelsea, at £1,238 per week and the biggest homes were in Uttlesford in Essex, Chiltern, South Buckinghamshire and Rutland, which all had an average of 6.4 habitable rooms.

The smallest homes were in the City of London, Tower Hamlets, and Westminster, which all had fewer than four habitable rooms.

The Western Isles and Highlands took the top spot for lowest population density, with just nine people per square kilometre.

Meanwhile, Copeland, Blaenau Gwent, West Dunbartonshire, Merthyr Tydfil and East Ayrshire were among the places with the most affordable house prices, with property values in these areas standing at less than four times earnings on average.

The sunniest place in the UK was the Isle of Wight, where residents enjoyed an average of 36.9 hours of sunshine a week.