Uttlesford takes the crown as Britain’s best rural area to live

09:24 24 March 2014

Saffron Walden Common

Saffron Walden Common


Residents of Uttlesford enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in Great Britain, according to the 2014 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

Doctors PondDoctors Pond

With last year’s winner Waverley dropping back to third in 2014, Uttlesford tops the annual survey, with South Northamptonshire taking second spot.

The annual survey takes a wide range of factors into account, including residents’ health and life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband access, and personal wellbeing.

This is the first time Uttlesford has come top, although prior to this the Essex district had made the top five on three separate occasions, coming second in 2013, third in 2011, and fourth in 2010.

According to the survey, Uttlesford residents are comparatively wealthy, with average weekly earnings of £819 and an employment rate of 84 per cent – well above the national average of £608 and 74.4 per cent respectively.

Stansted Airport, aerial view of main terminal buildingStansted Airport, aerial view of main terminal building

While 96.7 per cent of residents report to be in general good health, they can also look forward to a life expectancy of 81.8 years. However, the average house price in the area is seven times local annual gross earnings, which is above the average rural house price to earnings ratio for all rural areas of 6.2.

Craig McKinlay, Halifax mortgage director, said: “Uttlesford has consistently reported positive scores across a wide range of indicators for a number of years. And taking a wide range of economic and social factors into account residents here can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain.

“In terms of personal well being and general good health, Uttlesford residents score among the highest in Great Britain. And while house prices relative to earnings are above the rural average, Uttlesford still performs strongly in terms of average weekly earnings and a high employment rate.”

The Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey 2014 found the best rural areas to live are dominated by the East of England, East Midlands, and the South East.

The East of England and East Midlands secure three of the top 10 local authority districts (LADs), with the South East scooping four. Taking the top 50 LADs as a whole this pattern continues, with the South East taking 15 spots, the East of England represented 12 times, and the East Midlands securing nine places. The remaining LADs in the top 50 are from the South West (seven), Yorkshire and the Humber (three), and the West Midlands (two) and Scotland (two).


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