Orkney crowned the UK’s best place to live

26 January 2019

  • Orkney knocks Hart off top spot, Richmondshire now in second place
  • South East England has the most areas in the top 50
  • People in Rushmoor, Hampshire are officially the happiest in the UK

Orkney has finally been crowned the UK’s best place to live, following the past two years as runner up, according to the 2019 Halifax Quality of Life Survey.

The archipelago, famed for its spectacular landscapes and archaeological treasures, sealed the top spot based on Orcadians’ high employment levels, low crime rate, strong exam results, smaller primary class sizes and good health and happiness scores.

Richmondshire in North Yorkshire took second place (up from 9th), followed by Rutland in the East Midlands, Hambleton in North Yorkshire and Eden in Cumbria in fifth place

Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: “Orkney has consistently been considered one of the best places to live in the UK and Orcadians will be delighted to hear they have now taken the crown. Its remote location may not be for everyone, but this comes with the benefit of having high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing.

“While the South East continues to have the most locations in the top 50, we’ve seen Northern areas perform particularly well on education while they also benefit from lower house prices when compared to average earnings.”

More than half of the top 50 places to live are now outside Southern England
More than half (28) of the top 50 best places to live in the UK are now outside Southern England, with eight in the East of England, including St Albans (9th), East Hertfordshire (14th) and Uttlesford (18th).

East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber each have five areas, including Rutland (3rd), Hambleton (4th), Ryedale (8th) and Derbyshire Dales (10th). The North West and Scotland both have two areas and Wales one – Eden (5th), Ribble Valley (23rd), Orkney (1st), Shetland (39th) and Monmouthshire (48th).

The South East has the most areas in the top 50, with 18. These include South Oxfordshire (6th), Vale of White Horse (11th), Waverley (12th) and last year’s best place to live Hart (13th).

London has just two areas in the top 50 – Westminster (15th) and Richmond upon Thames (40th) and the South West one – Cotswold (7th).

Richmondshire in North Yorkshire takes second place

Richmondshire in North Yorkshire moves into second place from 9th in 2017, a position boosted by excellent personal wellbeing scores across all measures of life satisfaction, worthwhile, happiness and low anxiety.

It also scores strongly on a low crime rate, traffic flows, population density and primary class size. It has one of the highest ratios of pubs to population, which is no surprise given its attraction to the many visitors wishing to take in the views and walks around the Yorkshire Dales.

North/South divide

There is a clear distinction in key strengths between areas in the South and the North.
Local Authority Districts in the South are particularly strong in the labour market due to high employment levels and average earnings, on long life expectancy and where adults rate themselves to be in good health. Geography also benefits these areas with more hours of sunshine and less rainfall.

In the North, most areas have relatively better housing affordability conditions with a low house price to earnings ratio. They also benefit from urban environmental factors such as low traffic flows, crime rates and fewer people per square kilometre – which in turn could explain why they have lower average primary school sizes.