Winchester has clinched the number one position in the 2016 Halifax Quality of Life Survey. Wintonians benefit from plenty of leisure facilities for downtime and socialising, and their city has soared to the top spot due to residents’ health, employment and earnings plus high scores in personal well-being surveys.
Top five places to live
Six reasons why Winchester has the best quality of life:
High employment – 83.1%, considerably higher than the national average of 73.7%.
96.6% of residents are in good or fairly good health, 2% above the national average.
The life of expectancy of men (82) is 2.5 years above the national average and women (85.3) live 2.1 years longer than the rest of the UK.
Crime rates are some of the lowest in the UK.
ONS figures show that adults in Winchester are some of the most contented, satisfied and happiest in the country.
There are lots of pubs and leisure facilities compared to most areas in the UK.
Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, said: “Looking across a wide range of indicators considered by our research, residents of Winchester in Hampshire enjoy the best quality of life in the UK, benefiting from a combination of above average weekly earnings, low crime rate and good health. On the other hand, there is a cost associated with a high quality of life with house prices in Winchester 9.7 times the average annual local income – significantly higher than the UK average of 7.2.
“With more and more emphasis being placed on achieving a good work-life balance, the 2016 Halifax Quality of Life Survey includes a leisure category for the first time. This has had an impact on the rankings, especially at the top.”
Most of the top areas are in the South
Of the top 50 best areas in the UK, 32 can be found in the South of England, with 18 of those in the South-East. These places tend to score well on health, life expectancy and weekly earnings.
Derbyshire Dales stands out
Bucking the trend, though, is the Derbyshire Dales, which has an 87.7% employment rate and 27 pubs and bars per 10,000 adults.
Northern areas in the top 50 also score highly on:
Low house price to earnings ratio
Low traffic flow
Lower population densities
Small primary schools.
Northern people also see themselves as less anxious and happier than their southern counterparts. As a Midlander, I’d totally agree. I’m much happier living here than I was when I was ‘down south’ – mainly because I don’t have the awful misery of commuting.
Five times winner Hart drops to 26th
Hart, in Hampshire, topped the previous five surveys but dropped to 26th in the table in 2016. The main reason for this is the introduction of two new categories – the number of pubs and availability of health clubs and leisure centres – in which Hart doesn’t score as highly. The district has also suffered from a fall in average earnings and employment, compared to other areas, after scoring well in the past.
Where is the best place for you to live?
Looking for a job?
Employment is highest in the Shetland Islands, Stroud and the Derbyshire Dales.
Highest average weekly earnings are in Kensington & Chelsea (£1,273), City of London (£1,106) and St Albans (£1,018).
Adults (16+) with the highest level of qualifications live in the City of London (94.8%), Richmond upon Thames (70.4%) and Wandsworth (69.6%).
Buying for the first time? Read our FTB quick guide.
If size matters…
The largest properties are in Uttlesford (Essex), Chiltern (South Bucks) and Rutland.
The smallest homes are in City of London, Tower Hamlets and Westminster.
If you’re a gamer or entrepreneur…
Areas with most superfast broadband (5MBps or higher) are Manchester, Trafford and York.
Love hustle and bustle? Or crave peace and quiet?
The most populated areas, all London based, are: Islington, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Kensington & Chelsea.
The most sparsely populated areas are the Western Isles, Highlands, Argyle & Bute and Shetland Islands – all in Scotland.
The emptiest roads are mainly in Scotland.
Looking for an escape from crime?
The Orkney Islands has the lowest burglary rate, just 2.3 per 10,000 people.
If you love the outdoors…
You’ll get the least rain in Castle Point, Essex, with 525mm per year.
The East of England has eight of the 10 driest districts.
For sunshine, head to the Isle of Wight, which get the most with 36.9 hours per week.
Moving to somewhere new? Read our selling quick guide.
Want to breathe the cleanest air? (This may surprise you!)
Seven out of the 10 areas with the lowest CO2 emissions are in London! They include Tower Hamlets (1.0 tonnes of CO2 per household, compared to a national average of 1.7 tonnes per capita). Other London areas with low emissions include Newham, Hackney and Barking & Dagenham.
If your health matters most…
The self-rated healthiest places are all in the South: Hart, Wokingham and Isles of Scilly.
Men in Kensington & Chelsea have the highest life expectancy at birth (83.3 years).
For women, the highest life expectancy is in Chiltern and Camden (both 86.7 years).
For the best education…
Scotland has the smallest class sizes.
Northern Ireland has seven of the 10 places with the lowest secondary school pupil/teacher ratio.
Sutton has the best GCSE results, followed in second place by Kingston upon Thames.
Orkney spends the most on their pupils, twice the UK average of £4,626.
If you want to chillax
Mid and East Antrim is the place to be, scoring top in three of the four personal well-being categories in the survey. People here have the highest level of life satisfaction, happiness and feel what they do in life is worthwhile.
Joint top spot for happiness is the Western Isles.
Adults from Orkney are the least anxious.
Best quality of life by region