Monday, 31 March 2014 07:17

Revealed: top rural places to live

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Revealed: top rural places to live

A national survey highlights what it claims are the rural places with Britain's best quality of life.

Britain's best rural areas to live are dominated by the East of England, East Midlands, and the South East, according to the 2014 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

The annual Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey takes a range of factors into account.

They include residents' health and life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband access, and personal wellbeing.

The East of England and East Midlands secure three of the top 10 local authority districts (LADs), with the South East scooping four.

Taking the top 50 LADs as a whole this pattern continues, with the South East taking 15 spots, the East of England represented 12 times, and the East Midlands securing nine places.

The remaining LADs in the top 50 are from the South West (seven), Yorkshire and the Humber (three), and the West Midlands (two) and Scotland (two).

Residents of Uttlesford in north-west Essex enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area, the survey says.

This is the first time Uttlesford has come top, although prior to this the Essex district had made the top five on three occasions, coming second in 2013, third in 2011, and fourth in 2010.

With last year's winner Waverley dropping back to third in 2014, second place is taken by South Northamptonshire.

The top 10 places are:

1 – Uttlesford, East of England
2 – South Northamptonshire, East Midlands
3 – Waverley, South East
4 – East Hertfordshire, East of England
5 – Rushcliffe, East Midlands
6 – South Cambridgeshire, East of England
7 – Vale of White Horse, South East
8 – Chiltern, South East
9 – Mid Sussex, South East
10 – South Kesteven, East Midlands

Rural areas in the south tend to receive stronger ratings for factors such as employment, earnings, health, and weather.

Whereas rural LADs in the north typically perform better on school exam results and lower house price to earnings ratios.

Northern areas also tend to perform best on environmental measures such as low population densities and traffic flows.

But it seems that in terms of personal wellbeing the split is more even, with no real difference in terms of general life satisfaction and happiness.

Craig McKinlay, Halifax Mortgage Director, said: "Uttlesford has consistently reported positive scores across a wide range of indicators for a number of years.

"And taking a wide range of economic and social factors into account residents here can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain.

"In terms of personal well being and general good health, Uttlesford residents score among the highest in Great Britain.

"And while house prices relative to earnings are above the rural average, Uttlesford still performs strongly in terms of average weekly earnings and a high employment rate."

Uttlesford is a relatively new district having only been formed in 1974 following the merger of the boroughs of Saffron Walden, Dunmow Rural District and Saffron Walden Rural District.

Today it is perhaps best known as home to Stansted Airport.

Uttlesford residents are comparatively wealthy, with average weekly earnings of £819 and an employment rate of 84% – well above the national average of £608 and 74.4% respectively.

While 96.7% of residents report to be in general good health, they can also look forward to a life expectancy of 81.8 years.

But the average house price in the area is 7 times local annual gross earnings, which is above the average rural house price to earnings ratio for all rural areas of 6.2.

A full breakdown of the results is available here.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (E.Henderson)


    Dear Sir, I have just seen your 10 top rural places to live and have come to the conclusion that your researches have never been north of Northamptonshire, as there are many places in the north of England which are regarded to be some of the best places to live, such as the Yorkshire dale and the Durham Dales, however we in the North like to keep these places to ourselves.Try traveling North some time.

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