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Study reveals Orkney Islands best rural place to live in UK

Orkney Islands in Scotland enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain, according to a survey. Credit: PA

People living in the Orkney Islands area of Scotland enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain, according to a survey.

This is the first time the islands have topped Halifax's annual rural quality of life survey.

Researchers found that the islands scored strongly in terms of its employment rate, average earnings and average spend per pupil on education.

Low anxiety levels and low crime rates also put the islands at the top of the chart.

The Purbeck Hills in the South West made it to number five in the list by Halifax. Credit: PA

Wychavon in Worcestershire came second place in the survey, scoring highly on average life expectancy and with 95% of adults there being in good health.

The area of Wychavon also have some of the biggest homes in rural Britain, with an average of just over six rooms.

Of these rooms 98% have central heating and 92% of all houses have superfast broadband.

Other areas making the top five were the Derbyshire Dales, Hambleton in Yorkshire and Purbeck in Dorset.

They were found to all be performing well in terms of personal wellbeing and life expectancy, Halifax said.

Martin Ellis, an economist at Halifax, said: "With one of the lowest population densities and traffic levels in Scotland, some of the most stunning scenery in the British Isles and the lowest levels of anxiety and highest life satisfaction ratings, the Orkneys offer a quality of life unmatched elsewhere in rural Britain."

Property in the Orkneys is also relatively affordable.

The Derbyshire Dales ranked third in the top 50 rural places to live in the UK. Credit: PA

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show average house prices there fell by 4.3% annually in January to reach £108,224.

The average UK house price was £218,000 in January, according to the ONS.

Last year's winner in Halifax's survey, South Oxfordshire, fell to 10th place in 2017, but still scores strongly on earnings, employment rate and a low crime rate.

Halifax said the fall was partly due to the inclusion of the two new categories this year looking at the choice of pubs and the availability of health clubs and leisure centres.

The South East and the South West of England combined bagged 20 places on Halifax's list of the top 50 rural places with the best quality of life in 2017.

Nowhere in the North East of England made the top 50, with Northumberland ranked at 94.

The annual survey is carried out by using a variety of sources including the ONS, government data, the Met Office, Ofcom and Halifax itself.

Top ten rural places to live

  • Orkney Islands, Scotland
  • Wychavon, West Midlands
  • Derbyshire Dales, East Midlands
  • Hambleton, Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Purbeck, South West
  • South Cambridgeshire, East of England
  • Chiltern, South East
  • West Oxfordshire, South East
  • South Hams, South West
  • South Oxfordshire, South East