Orkney now second best place to live in the UK

17 December 2016

Orkney has been named the second best place to live in the UK, according to Bank of Scotland’s latest Quality of Life Survey. This year, due to the survey being updated, Orkney has rocketed up the UK table, however retains the title of the best place to live in Scotland.

Winchester, in the South East, took this year’s title of the best place to live in the UK, while Wychavon in Worcestershire sits behind Orkney. The Shetland Isles were the only other Scottish Local Authority District (“LAD”) to feature in the UK top 20, coming in at 18th.

Traditionally performing well and ranking highly in the Quality of Life Survey, Orkney has once again been named the best place to live in Scotland, followed by the Shetland Islands in second and the Western Isles in third.

Ten reasons why Orkney has such a great Quality of Life:

  • Crime rates are the lowest in the UK, with a burglary rate of just 2.3 per 10,000 people, compared to a Scottish average of 27.2 and 28.7 for the rest of the UK.
  • School children there benefit from the UK’s largest spending per pupil for primary and secondary children – £9,281 per pupil compared to Scotland’s average of £5,846.90 and £4,626 for the UK.
  • People living in Orkney have the lowest levels of anxiety rating in the UK (1.9 out of ten) and along with those living in the Western Isles, they are most satisfied with life (8.2 out of ten). The overwhelming majority of adults (96.6%) report being in good or fairly good health compared to a national average of 94.6%. It’s no surprise then that Orkney also ranks highly when it comes to happiness.
  • The employment rate, at 87.6%, is significantly higher than the national average (73.7%).
  • Low population density with 22 residents per square kilometre compared to the Scottish average of 483.3 and national average of 268.
  • Low amount of traffic on the roads, with just 142 cars per square kilometre, compared to the UK average of 9,408.
  • In their leisure time they have a large number of pubs - 20 per 10,000 adults.

Moving on up

While there has been no movement in the top three places to live in Scotland, the changes to the survey have resulted in some significant adjustments in rankings. Having one of the highest numbers of fitness and health clubs (3 per 10,000 people) has helped push both the Scottish Borders and Perth & Kinross up the rankings, with them now sitting fourth and fifth respectively. Argyll & Bute has also seen the benefit from the new leisure categories, as having the highest number of pubs (25 per 10,000 people) has seen them move up to eighth this year.

Some changes since the 2015 survey, notably some methodological changes in the ONS Personal Well-Being Survey and the inclusion of two new categories – number of pubs and the availability of health clubs and leisure centres1 - has resulted in some significant changes in the Quality of Life Survey UK rankings compared to last year.

Graham Blair, mortgage director at Bank of Scotland, said, “It’s fantastic to see Orkney rise up the rankings to be named the second best place to live in the UK, while also retaining the title of best place to live in Scotland. Having one of the lowest population densities and traffic levels in Scotland, let alone some of the most stunning scenery in the British Isles, it’s no wonder that Orkney also has the lowest levels of anxiety and highest life satisfaction ratings.

“With more and more emphasis being placed on achieving a good work-life balance, the 2016 Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey includes a leisure category for the first time. Although there is no movement in the Scottish top three from last year, the changes to this year’s survey have resulted in substantial movements in the rest of the table.”