Revealed: the best place to live in the UK

Sophie Christie

The district of Hart in north east Hampshire, one of the least deprived areas in Britain, has perhaps understandably reclaimed its crown as the best place to live in the country.

The "tranquil" district has been awarded the top spot by lender Halifax five out of six times, but briefly lost its crown to Winchester last year.

Halifax's quality of life index quantifies where living standards are highest in the UK by ranking an area's average life expectancy, employment and earnings, crime rates, general levels of well-being, and access to places for socialising and downtime. Each local authority district is then given a score out of 10 for each variable in the index.

Even issues such as the number of pubs in an area and access to super-fast broadband are taken into account.

The study suggests that having such good quality of life comes at a price, with the cost of living in Hart much higher than in many other parts of the UK, with average house prices of £419,231 - around 8.8 times the average annual pre-tax local income, compared to the national average of 7.3.

But a wealthy area doesn't necessarily correspond with happier residents. The highest weekly average earnings are in Kensington & Chelsea, at £1,566 per week, but the London borough comes in at number 41 on the list of 50 best districts.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: "Along with Hart, many areas in southern England score strongly in categories including the labour markets and health. Northern areas tend to perform well on education and benefit from more affordable properties with lower house prices to earnings.”

10. Stratford-upon-Avon

Residents of William Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, have an above-average life expectancy and house prices in the area are surprisingly reasonable. It's also within commutable distance to London and Birmingham.

Stratford-upon-Avon

9. Richmondshire

The North Yorkshire district of Richmondshire is one of the most sparsely populated places in England, and two-thirds of it sit in the stunning landscapes of Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Richmondshire Credit: Alamy 

8. Craven

People in Craven, north Yorkshire, are the happiest in the UK. Based on a score out of 10, the adults in this area had an average life satisfaction rating of 8.5, compared to a UK average of 7.7. They are also the least anxious, with an average rating of 2.0, compared to 2.9 across the rest of the UK.

Craven

7. Waverley

The borough of Waverley, which is centred around Godalming, enjoys some of the best overall quality of life in the country, thanks to a combination of relative prosperity, employment, good health, house prices and weather.

Waverley  Credit: Alamy 

6. Wokingham

This town in Berkshire is near Reading and within a commutable distance to London. It is one of the healthiest places in the country, with 97pc of households rating themselves in good or fairly good health.

Wokingham Credit: Julian Simmonds

5. Winchester

Falling from the top spot last year, Winchester in Hampshire still scores highly due to a combination of above-average weekly earnings, a low crime rate and good health.

Government figures reveal that Wintonians are among the happiest, most satisfied, most content and the least anxious in the country.

Winchester  Credit: Chris Caldicott

4. Wychavon

Wychavon in Worcestershire, located near the beautiful countryside of the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds, scored strongly on employment rate, earnings, good health and life expectancy.

Wychavon Credit: Paul Weston /Alamy 

3. Rutland

The picturesque county of Rutland can lay claim to having one of the highest standards of living in Britain, thanks to above-average income and most residents reporting good or fairly good health.

There's also less rainfall per year than the national average, and Rutland has some of the biggest homes in the country, with an average of 6.4 habitable rooms compared to a UK average of 5.5.

Rutland  Credit: Alamy 

2. Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands came second in the survey, scoring strongly on crime rate, traffic flows, population density and primary school class size.

It has the highest per pupil spending of £9,662 which is reflected in excellent secondary school exam results, Halifax said. And despite it being a remote location, residents appear to be the least anxious and among the happiest and most satisfied in the country.

Orkney islands Credit: Danita Delimont/Alamy 

1. Hart

Hart was scored highly for the fact that it has the longest average female life expectancy in the UK, of 86.7 years, and residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

Hart Credit: Stephen Hird