Lower house prices in northern regions have led to an increase in the quality of life scores in these areas, new survey reveals.

Orkney has emerged as the best place to live in the UK in 2019, but people in Hampshire are the happiest.

The archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, which boasts stunning landscapes and archaeological treasures, took the top spot thanks to its high employment levels, low crime rate, strong exam results and good health and happiness scores. 

Richmondshire, in North Yorkshire, came second in the annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey, followed by Rutland in the East Midlands and Hambleton in North Yorkshire, with Eden in Cumbria completing the top five. 

The South East continued to have the most locations in the top 50 at 18, but northern regions are becoming more prominent on the list thanks to lower house prices and their strong performance in education. 

Why is this happening?

Halifax uses a range of factors to assess which places have the best quality of life, including crime rates, the labour market, local housing, the weather, health and life expectancy, education and residents’ sense of personal well-being.

The group said there was a clear north-south distinction between the relative strengths of the two areas. 

Locations in the south typically scored highly on the strength of the local labour market due to high employment levels and average earnings, while they also had longer life expectancy and a higher number of adults who rated themselves as being in good health. 

The weather also played a role, with places in the south tending to have more hours of sunshine and less rain. 

By contrast, areas in the north boasted better housing affordability, due to a lower house price to earnings ratio, as well as a better urban environment as a result of less traffic, a lower crime rate, fewer people per square kilometre and smaller school sizes.

This 16-bed detached home on Orkney could be yours for just £575,000

Who does it affect?

While Orkney took the top spot overall, those in Rushmoor, in Hampshire, were found to be the happiest. 

Residents in Hart and Woking were the healthiest, with 97% of people in both locations rating themselves as being in good or fairly good health, while those in Kensington and Chelsea had the highest life expectancy. 

People looking for good weather should consider a move to the Isle of Wight, the sunniest place in the UK, or Castle Point in Essex, which has the least rain.

Meanwhile, all of the top 10 local authorities with the smallest class sizes are in Scotland, although Rutland boasts the best GCSE results. 

What’s the background?

While a high quality of life usually leads to a premium on house prices, this is not the case in Orkney, where the typical home is valued at £150,618, less than half the UK average of £310,781, according to the Zoopla Zed-Index. 

House prices in Richmond are also slightly below the national average at £270,808, while those in fourth place Hambleton come in at £232,130. 

But people hoping to live in Rutland, which was ranked third overall, will have to pay a slight premium with properties in the county changing hands for an average of £352,473. 

Top 3 takeaways

  • Orkney has emerged as the best place to live in the UK in 2019 but people in Hampshire are the happiest

  • Richmondshire in North Yorkshire came second in the annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey

  • The south east continued to have the most locations in the top 50 at 18

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