The Halifax Bank has released its annual quality of life survey which ranks the best places to live in the UK.
Hart in Hampshire is, by their measure, the 'best place to live. Followed by Elmbridge, Wokingham, East Cambridgeshire, Brentwood, Wychavon, St. Albans, Maidstone, South Cambridgeshire and then Epsom and Ewell.
So that pretty much takes care of the 'top ten' towns you could possibly hope to reside in based on a combination of the following factors using Hart as the shining example of borough desirability:
- Residents tend to be fit and well - 95% reporting good or fairly good health.
- Average life expectancy is higher than average (81.7 years for men).
- The employment rate is high with almost three-quarters of 16-64 year olds in occupation, withmany residents enjoying high incomes with weekly average earnings of £841 which is 40% above the UK average of £606.
- Inhabitants live in relative security with one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
- Residents enjoy a relatively good climate - less rainfall per year than the national average (746mm against 882 mm) and more weekly sunshine hours (33 hours against the national average of 29.7 hours).
- 91% of all households have a good level of broadband access – compared to 82% for the UK as a whole.
- However, living the good life comes with a price – average house prices in Hart are 6.3 times average annual local earnings, considerably above the UK average of 5.25.
And here are some other key facts according to the Halifax.
Employment is highest in Maidstone in Kent where the rate is 84.0%, closely followed by the Shetland Islands, (83.8%) and West Somerset (83.7%).
The highest weekly average earnings are in Kensington & Chelsea (£1,521 per week) followed by the City of London (£1,239), Westminster (£1,141) and Elmbridge (£1,127).
The biggest homes are in Wychavon in Worcestershire with an average of 7.4 habitable rooms; followed by Derbyshire Dales and Hertsmere (both 7.0).
90% of homes in the Western Isles have central heating, closely followed by Blackburn with Darwen at (89%).
The lowest percentage of vacant properties is in Waveney (0.1%).
Nine out of ten households have a good level of broadband access (i.e. a download speed of 2Mbps is regarded as the minimum for good broadband service) in one in three of the local authority districts surveyed. In some of the areas in central London, such as the City of London and Kensington & Chelsea, potentially all households have broadband access at this level.
There are only 26 areas across the country where the average house price to earnings ratio is below the UK historical long-term average of 4.0. The lowest ratio is in Pendle in Lancashire (3.5), followed by North Ayrshire and Blaenau Gwent (both 3.6). The highest ratio is in Kensington & Chelsea, where the average price is 12.2 times local annual average earnings.
Traffic flows are lowest in Scotland, which has 8 of the 10 best ranked districts on this measure. The lowest traffic levels are in the Western Isles, the Highlands, Argyle and Bute, Orkney and Shetland Islands. The Isles of Scilly and Powys are the two areas outside Scotland in the top 10.
The lowest burglary rates per 10,000 households are in the Western Isles (3.8) followed by the Orkneys (5.0), West Devon (7.8) and North Norfolk (7.9).
The ten lowest CO2 emissions per person are all in southern England. The lowest emissions are in Tower Hamlets (1.50 tonnes of CO2 per household), followed by Southwark (1.60 tonnes) and Camden (1.68 tonnes). The national average is 2.21 tonnes per capita.
The lowest population density in Britain is in the Western Isles and the Highlands with just 9 persons per square kilometre. The average for the UK is 257.
The lowest average annual rainfall (508 mm) is in Castle Point in Essex. Eight of the ten driest districts in the UK are in the East of England; Medway and Barking and Dagenham are the only areas outside the East of England in the top 10.
The sunniest place in the UK is the Isle of Wight where residents enjoy an average of 37.4 hours of sunshine a week. The national average is 29.7 hours.Good health scores most highly in Wokingham, Isles of Scilly, Hart and Surrey Heath in the South East with 95% of households rating themselves in good or fairly good health in all these areas. Nine of the top ten areas on this measure are in the South East.
Life expectancy is highest in Kensington & Chelsea (85.1 years), followed by Westminster (83.8 years) and East Dorset (82.0 years). The top ten in this category is dominated by local authority districts in southern England.
Primary school class sizes are smallest in the Western Isles (14 pupils), followed by Shetland Islands and the Orkneys (both 17). Five of the ten local authority districts with the smallest average primary school class sizes are in Northern Ireland.
The best GCSE results in England are in Darlington where 92% achieved five or more GCSE results – grades A-C, followed by Hammersmith and Fulham, Sutton, East Dunbartonshire, Shetland Islands, and Kensington and Chelsea (all over 90%).
A pretty comprehensive survey, thanks to the UK's largest mortgage lender who definitely do not publish this survey every year just for publicity over that otherwise deathly quiet news time that is the Christmas period.