Rutland residents have the highest standard of living in rural Britain, a report has found.
Nestling in the East Midlands countryside, Rutland topped Halifax's annual Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey, which takes residents' health and life expectancy, crime rates, weather, employment, school results, broadband access and personal wellbeing into account.
Rutland residents tend to be fit and well, with more than 96% in good or fairly good health, the report said. They enjoy a relatively good climate, with less rainfall per year than the national average, at 681mm against 879mm, and more weekly hours of sunshine, at 30.4 hours against the national average of 29.5 hours. WORDS: PA.
But living in Rutland comes at a price, and the cost of living there is higher than in many other parts of Britain. The average house price is around 6.7 times the annual pre-tax local income, compared with the national average of 6.2.
Chiltern has moved up six places in 2015 to second place, up from number 8 in 2014. The inhabitants of the Buckinghamshire district tend to have a high average life expectancy of 82.2 years and 97% report good health.
Aside from Rutland, other areas away from southern England in the top 50 included the Orkney Islands in Scotland, Hambleton in North Yorkshire and Monmouthshire in Wales.
Southern areas tend to receive higher ratings for weekly earnings, the weather, health and life expectancy, while northern areas score highly on education in terms of grades and smaller class sizes, lower house prices in relation to earnings, and both lower traffic flows and population densities, Halifax said.
There were several big climbers in the top 20, with Huntingdonshire rising 36 places to number 9, South Oxfordshire up 19 places to 10, Babergh in south Suffolk moving from 42 in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and West Oxfordshire moving 27 places to 13.
The main reason for these changes is that personal well-being of adults has improved since the last survey, with adults being more satisfied, happy and less anxious about their lives, Halifax said.
The survey is based on data from various sources including Halifax, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the UK, Welsh and Scottish governments.
Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: "Rutland has moved up 11 places to the top spot in the 2015 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.
"Taking a wide range of economic and social factors into account, residents here can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain."
The report also found that the biggest homes are in Uttlesford in Essex, Chiltern and Rutland which all have an average of 6.4 habitable rooms. The average number of habitable rooms in Britain is 5.5.
The most affordable homes when compared with local earnings are in Copeland and East Ayrshire, where a property costs 3.8 times the local wage typically.
The report also found that 100% of homes in East Ayrshire have central heating, compared with the national average of 96%.
Here are the 50 rural areas with the best quality of life according to Halifax:
1. Rutland, East Midlands
2. Chiltern, South East
3. Uttlesford, East of England
4. South Northamptonshire, East Midlands
5. Rushcliffe, East Midlands
6. Waverley, South East
7. South Cambridgeshire, East of England
8. Mid Sussex, South East
9. Huntingdonshire, East of England
10. South Oxfordshire, South East
11. Babergh, East of England
12. East Hertfordshire, East of England
13. West Oxfordshire, South East
14. South Kesteven, East Midlands
15. East Cambridgeshire, East of England
16. North Kesteven, East Midlands
17. Aylesbury Vale, South East
18. Tonbridge and Malling, South East
19. Wealden, South East
20. Mid Suffolk, East of England
21. Orkney Islands, Scotland
22. Hambleton, Yorkshire and the Humber
23. Richmondshire, Yorkshire and the Humber
24. Selby, Yorkshire and the Humber
25. Malvern Hills, West Midlands
26. Harborough, East Midlands
27. New Forest, South East
28. Vale of White Horse, South East
29. Wychavon, West Midlands
30. Tewkesbury, South West
31. South Derbyshire, East Midlands
32. St Edmundsbury, East of England
33. Tandridge, South East
34. South Staffordshire, West Midlands
35. South Norfolk, East of England
36. Ryedale, Yorkshire and The Humber
37. Test Valley, South East
38. West Berkshire, South East
39. East Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber
40. Shetland Islands, Scotland
41. Cherwell, South East
42. Suffolk Coastal, East of England
43. Cotswold, South West
44. North Dorset, South West
45. Wiltshire, South West
46. Monmouthshire, Wales
47. East Dorset, South West
48. Newark and Sherwood, East Midlands
49. Aberdeenshire, Scotland
50. Herefordshire, West Midlands
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