RURAL districts are among the local authority areas with the highest quality of life, reveals a survey.
The Halifax Quality of Life Survey examined all 405 local authority districts to track where living standards are highest in the United Kingdom.
It ranked local performance across key indicators covering employment, the housing market, the environment, education and health.
The Hampshire district of Hart topped the survey, based on factors such as life expectancy, a low crime rate and good broadband internet access.
Some 95% of Hart residents reported being in good or fairly good health. Life expectancy in the district is higher than average at 81.7 years for men.
Employment is high with almost three-quarters of 16-64 year olds in occupation and average weekly earnings of £841 some 40% above the UK average.
Some 91% of all households have good broadband access – compared to 82% for the UK as a whole.
|Rank||Local Authority District||Region|
|4||East Cambridgeshire||East of England|
|5||Brentwood||East of England|
|7||St Albans||East of England|
|9||South Cambridgeshire||East of England|
|10||Epsom & Ewell||South-East|
|11||Richmond upon Thames||London|
|13||East Hertfordshire||East of England|
|18||Uttlesford||East of England|
|19||Bracknell Forest||South East|
|20||North Hertfordshire||East of England|
|21||Hertsmere||East of England|
|24||Rochford||East of England|
|28||Colchester||East of England|
|30||Kingston upon Thames||London|
|31||Kensington & Chelsea||London|
|32||Reigate & Banstead||South-East|
|34||Huntingdonshire||East of England|
|36||North Kesteven||East Midlands|
|37||Dacorum||East of England|
|39||Chelmsford||East of England|
|42||Vale of White Horse||South-East|
|44||Maldon||East of England|
|46||Tonbridge & Malling||South-East|
|47||Basingstoke & Deane||South-East|
|48||Central Bedfordshire||East of England|
But the good life comes at a price. Average house prices in Hart are 6.3 times average annual local earnings, considerably above the UK average of 5.25.
Halifax economist Martin Ellis said "Looking across a range of indicators residents of Hart in Hampshire enjoy the best quality of life in the UK.
"They benefit from a combination of above average weekly earnings, a low crime rate and good health amongst other factors.
"On the other hand, average house prices in the area are amongst the highest relative to local earnings."
Hart was closely followed by the Surrey district of Elmbridge which has held the top position in the survey for the past three years.
In fact, the top 50 best places to live are dominated by areas in southern England, with 27 in the south-east and a further 15 in East Anglia.
They include East Cambridgeshire (4th), St. Albans (7th), Maidstone (8th), South Cambridgeshire (9th), Epsom and Ewell (10th), and Tunbridge Wells (12th).
Areas in the south tend to score highly on weekly earnings, the weather and health and life expectancy.
There are just four areas outside the south in the top 50.
These are Wychavon in Worcestershire (6th), Rushcliffe in Nottingham (16th), Rutland (22nd) and North Kesteven in Lincolnshire (36th).
Areas in the north tend to receive high ratings on low house price to earnings ratios, low population densities and smaller primary school sizes.
The survey is based on data at local authority district (LAD) level, including data from government agencies.
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