An isolated group of islands off the north east of Scotland that are famed for their spectacular landscapes have been named as the best place to live in Britain.
The Orkney Islands were given the title after scoring well on several factors. These include high employment levels, a low crime rate, strong exam results, smaller primary class sizes and good levels of health and happiness.
It has finally been crowned the best to place to live after being the runner-up in the Halifax quality of life survey for the past two years.
The Orkney Islands were named the best place to live in the annual Halifax survey
Orkney scored well on several factors, including high employment levels, low crime rate and good levels of health and happiness
Richmondshire in North Yorkshire took second place this year, up from ninth place, followed by Rutland in the East Midlands, Hambleton in North Yorkshire and Eden in Cumbria in fifth place.
More than half of the top 50 best places to live in Britain are outside of the South of England, with eight in the East, including St Albans in ninth place, East Hertfordshire in 14th place and Uttlesford ranked 18th.
The Orkney Islands include Neolithic sites, tall sandstone cliffs and seal colonies
Fishing boats at Stromness, Orkney Island
The Orkney Islands were given the title after scoring well on several factors
The East Midlands, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber each have five areas, including Rutland, Hambleton, Ryedale and the Derbyshire Dales.
The North West and Scotland both have two areas – Eden, Ribble Valley, Orkney and Shetland – while Wales has one – Monmouthshire.
The South East has the most areas in the top 50 with 18. These include South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, Waverley and last year’s best place to live Hart, which is now ranked thirteenth.
London has just two areas in the top 50 – Westminster and Richmond-upon-Thames – and the South West one – the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds have been ranked seventh in the survey of the best places to live
Rutland in the East Midlands also scored well in the survey and is ranked in third place
|South Oxfordshire||South East|
|St Albans||East of England|
|Richmondshire||Yorkshire and The Humber|
|Lisburn & Castlereagh||Northern Ireland|
|Source: Halifax January 2019|
St Albans in the East of England takes the ninth position in the survey
Richmondshire in North Yorkshire moves into second place from ninth in 2017, a position boosted by high scores in wellbeing, which includes happiness and low anxiety.
It also scores well on a low crime rate, traffic flows, population density and primary class size.
It also has one of the highest ratios of pubs to population, which is an added attraction for those visiting the Yorkshire Dales.
Hambleton in Yorkshire and The Humber is ranked fourth in the quality of life survey
Ryedale in Yorkshire and The Humber is ranked in eighth place in the survey
There continues to be a clear distinction between the South and North of the country, with local authority districts in the South being particularly strong on employment and average earnings and long life expectancy.
In the North, most areas have relatively better housing affordability conditions with a low house price to earnings ratio.
They also benefit from urban environment factors such as low traffic flows, crime rates and few people per square kilometre.
Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: ‘Orkney has consistently been considered one of the best places to live in the UK and Orcadians will be delighted to hear they have now taken the crown.
‘Its remote location may not be for everyone, but this comes with the benefit of having high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing.
‘While the South East continues to have the most locations in the top 50, we’ve seen Northern areas perform particularly well on education while they also benefit from lower house prices when compared to average earnings.’
WHAT ARE THE ORKNEY ISLANDS?
The Orkney Islands are 10 miles north of the coast of Caithness and comprise of around 70 islands – of which 20 are inhabited.
The largest island is called Mainland, while the largest settlement and main administrative area is Kirkwall.
The islands’ wind and marine energy resources are becoming increasingly important, with the island generating more than its total yearly electricity demand using renewables.
The islands include Neolithic sites, tall sandstone cliffs and seal colonies. The ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ is a group of 5,000-year-old sites on Mainland.
|Local Authority||Region||2017 Rankings||2019 Rankings||Movement|
|Richmondshire||Yorkshire and The Humber||9||2||7|
|Hambleton||Yorkshire and The Humber||28||4||24|
|South Oxfordshire||South East||14||6||8|
|Ryedale||Yorkshire and The Humber||12||8||4|
|St Albans||East of England||15||9||6|
|Derbyshire Dales||East Midlands||75||10||65|
|Vale of White Horse||South East||62||11||51|
|East Hertfordshire||East of England||17||14||3|
|Uttlesford||East of England||11||18||-7|
|South Cambridgeshire||East of England||35||21||14|
|Ribble Valley||North West||83||23||60|
|Surrey Heath||South East||104||24||80|
|Harrogate||Yorkshire and The Humber||27||26||1|
|Babergh||East of England||41||27||14|
|West Oxfordshire||South East||29||28||1|
|South Bucks||South East||64||29||35|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||South East||38||30||8|
|Malvern Hills||West Midlands||57||36||21|
|Rochford||East of England||162||37||125|
|Richmond upon Thames||London||36||40||-4|
|West Berkshire||South East||63||41||22|
|Basingstoke and Deane||South East||54||42||12|
|South Hams||South West||66||43||23|
|St Edmundsbury||East of England||22||45||-23|
|Mid Suffolk||East of England||77||47||30|
|Selby||Yorkshire and The Humber||21||50||-29|
|Source: Halifax January 2019|