Hameldaeme: Best places to live in Scotland revealed


31 January 2020

  • Orkney retains top spot while Shetland Isles make way for a new Glaswegian runner up
  • Orkney, East Renfrewshire, Shetland Islands, East Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh all make the UK top 100
  • Affordability, safety and access to green space most important factors when choosing a place to live

The historic islands of Orkney have been crowned Scotland’s best place to live for the eighth year in a row, according to the Bank of Scotland Quality of Life survey 2020.

Best known for their beautiful coastline and spectacular landscapes about 20 miles north of the mainland, Orkney maintained position for the eighth consecutive year thanks to high employment levels, low crime rate, strong exam results, smaller primary class sizes and good health and happiness scores.

As a result of an updated survey methodology including a number of new metrics, Glasgow’s East Renfrewshire has moved into the prestigious second place (up from 13th), with Shetland down one place to third and East Dunbartonshire fourth (up six places), and the City of Edinburgh fifth (up 15 places). The top five Scottish locations also appear in the UK top 100.

The annual research takes into consideration 26 different factors (table 3) that homebuyers consider when choosing a place to live. For the first time this year, the research also takes into account how important these factors are to people looking to find the perfect property, with affordability, safety and access to parks and green spaces all proving most essential according to UK adults.

Tara Foley, Managing Director, Bank of Scotland, said: “Orcadians have long celebrated the Islands’ status as one of the most desirable places to live in Scotland as well as the UK – with high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing.

“The Scottish locations that make it into the UK’s top 100 showcase the diversity of Scotland from the dramatic beauty of its remote islands to the impressive architecture of its historical cities and easy access to green vast space and rich country parks from the surrounding suburbs.”

At a UK level, East Hertfordshire in the East of England took the top spot overall this year, followed by Fareham and Hart, both in South East.

What makes Orkney such a good place to live?

  • The latest ONS figures indicate adults living in Orkney are amongst the most happy, satisfied and content in the UK, with low anxiety rates 
  • Orkney is one of the most affordable places to live for first time buyers with an average house price of £131,913, standing at 3.8 times the average annual pre-tax local income, compared to the national average of 4.3.
  • Orkney has the highest employment rate with nearly nine in ten (88%) 16-64 year-olds in work and weekly average earnings of £665
  • Residents enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the country, with 6.9 crimes per 10,000 population, compared to a national average of 52.6
  • Residents feel fit and well with more than nine in 10 (97%) reporting good or fairly good health