Orkney tops the 2015 Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey for the best places to live for the third consecutive year.
Orkney remains at the top of the Quality of Life Survey by again scoring consistently highly across a range of categories covering residents' health and life expectancy, personal well-being, employment, a low crime rate and good weather. (See table 1)
The Shetland Islands too keeps its number two spot for the third year running, while the Western Isles moves up to third from seventh place in 2014.
Orkney has the highest employment rate in Scotland, with 86.3% of its adult residents being in employment. This is much higher than the Scotland average of 73.8% and the UK average of 72.9%. Orkney is also fortunate enough to have the lowest burglary rate in the whole of the UK.
The other factors keeping it ahead of the chasing pack are: low amount of traffic on the roads, with just 139 cars per square kilometre, compared to the Scottish average of 3,236; a low population density with 22 residents per square kilometre compared to the Scottish average of 480.5; and even the weather is fairly agreeable, with an annual rainfall of 1,064 (1,311mm for Scotland).
Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland, comments:
"It tends to be the northern parts of Scotland that come out best for quality of life each year, due to the lower population, higher employment rate and low crime rates. Orkney rates very positively in many categories, which has helped it secure the number one spot for the third year, although it ranks the best in only two categories - highest employment and lowest burglary rate.
“The Western Isles in particular have seen a marked change in comparison to last year, and have moved up four places to now sit in third. It’s not so good news for Edinburgh though, as we have seen it drop to 21st place this year, from 15th in 2014.”
Shetland Islands second most desirable place to live
The Shetland Islands has also retained their title as the second best place to live in Scotland for the third year running. They score particularly well for education, having one of the lowest average numbers of school pupils in primary schools across the UK - 18.4 compared to the Scottish average of 22.7 pupils and UK average of 26.7 pupils.
The Shetland Islands also has the lowest secondary school pupil to teacher ratio in the UK - 8.6 pupils to teacher, compared to the Scottish average of 11.8 and UK average of 15.5. The area also has the highest spend per pupil in the UK, with an average of £10,821. That’s almost twice the Scotland average of £5,834 and double the UK spend of £4,564 per pupil.
The Western Isles has seen a marked improvement in the last year, moving up from seventh in 2014 to third in 2015. The area comes top in a number of categories, especially for well-being where residents are the happiest in Scotland and have the highest life satisfaction rate.