Edinburgh best place to live in UK, according to quality of life index

Edinburgh is officially the best place to live in the UK, and Scottish regions make the biggest gain in rankings, according to the latest Quality of Life index.

Edinburgh is officially the best place to live in the UK, with Bradford as one of the most challenging, and Scottish regions make the biggest gain in rankings, according to the latest Quality of Life index from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service. Low crime rates, affordable living costs, high average salaries and fast broadband all contribute to Edinburgh's position at the top.The study assessed 138 local areas (NUTS3 regions) for 26 different factors including salaries, disposable household income and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills, as well as lifestyle factors such as working hours, life expectancy and hours of sunshine, to provide a complete picture of the quality of life in each region.Edinburgh's meteoric rise to the top, jumping 97 places since the last Quality of Life Index in 2013 and knocking Solihull off its perch in the process, is due to a number of factors.It has the lowest reported crime rate in the UK, cheap petrol and energy bills, high average salaries of £29,588 and disposable household income of £20,083, as well as fast average broadband download speeds of 30Mbs.Edinburgh wasn't the only Scottish region to see a huge gain in its Quality of Life ranking. In fact, 13 of the 20 regions that saw the biggest gains in their Quality of Life rankings are located north of the border.The region of Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire, in South Western Scotland, has enjoyed the biggest ranking gain, rising 102 places from 112th to 10th place, thanks in part to some of the lowest household costs in the UK. And North Lanarkshire, also in South Western Scotland, has seen its position climb 98 places since 2013.But, while everything appears to be bonny in Scotland, life is a little less rosy south of the border. 16 out of the 20 falling regions are English, with Bradford and Hull, both in the Yorkshire and Humber region, rooted at the foot of the UK Quality of Life Index.According to the report, people in Bradford have amongst the lowest gross disposable household incomes of £13,654 a year, yet pay one of the highest average weekly rents of £92.60.The employment rate is low at 65 per cent and there is also a lower than average life expectancy at 77 years and seven months for men and 81 years and four months for women. To top it all, the area suffers from crowded primary schools and just 44 per cent of pupils achieved five GCSEs at A-C grades, at Key Stage 4.However, it's not all doom and gloom for Bradford residents. It does have low essential costs such as energy, food and council tax, together with cheaper house prices and higher than average broadband speeds.

Table 1: Top Ten Regions in UK Quality of Life Index 2015

2015 RankingNUTS3 Region2013 RankingChange in Rank Position Since 2013
1Edinburgh, City of, Eastern Scotland98+97
2Solihull, West Midlands1-1
3Hertfordshire, East of England30
4Northumberland, North East8+4
5South Lanarkshire, South Western Scotland60+55
6Berkshire, South East9+3
7Darlington, North East25+18
8North Lanarkshire, South Western Scotland106+98
9York, Yorkshire & Humber15+6
10Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire, South Western Scotland112+102


Table 2: Bottom Ten Regions in UK Quality of Life Index 2015

2015 RankingNUTS3 Region2013 RankingChange in rank position since 2013
138Bradford, Yorkshire & The Humber95-43
137Kingston Upon Hull, City of, Yorkshire & The Humber130-7
136North of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland68-68
135Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Highlands and Islands120-15
134West and South of Northern Ireland59-75
133Blackpool, North West117-16
132Devon CC, South West86-46
131Central Valleys, West Wales and The Valleys121-10
130East of Northern Ireland39-91
129South Teesside, North East93-36
  • Income – West London (Inner London West) retains the title of Britain's richest region with average full time salaries of £35,464 and an average annual gross disposable household income (GDHI) of £39,602 – more than three times higher than disposable household incomes in Leicester (£11,739) and Nottingham (£11,757).
  • Employment – Liverpool has the lowest employment rate of any region in the UK at 59 per cent, compared to 89 per cent in the Orkney Islands and 82 per cent in central Bedfordshire. Meanwhile, West London is the hardest working region in the country, with 41 per cent working 45 hours a week or more, compared to 15 per cent of those living in the Orkney Islands.
  • Living Costs – Despite having the second lowest gross household disposable income in the country (£11,757), Nottingham city dwellers pay the highest council tax rate (£1,676 a year). Belfast pays the lowest rate of £819 a year, less than half that paid in Nottingham. However, people in Belfast are hit with the highest average energy bills of £1,850 a year, compared to bills of £1,209 in Scotland.
  • Crime – Edinburgh has the lowest rate of reported crime in the UK, followed by Powys in East Wales. Northern Ireland has the highest rates of reported crime, with Belfast the most crime-ridden region in the UK, followed by the East of Northern Ireland region.
  • Life Expectancy – Women in Buckinghamshire have a life expectancy of 85 years old – compared to those in Glasgow with a life expectancy of just 78 and a half. Meanwhile, men in Surrey have a life expectancy of 81 and a half – compared to just 73 years old in Glasgow.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says, "Edinburgh has long been a city that's inspired; a vibrant city with striking architecture and a world famous festival, all surrounded by stunning scenery. Now it's official – Edinburgh is the best place to live in the UK. With low crime rates, high wages and affordable living costs, it's not just the history and cultural attractions that are drawing people to Scotland's capital."And while Edinburgh sits proudly at the top of the spire, Scotland as a whole is the star performer, with its regions easily making the biggest climbs in the ranks this year. Contrast that with the biggest fallers in the rankings, the majority of which are regions in England."What this report reveals is the vast differences in the quality of life that many people across the UK are experiencing. Despite a buoyant UK economy, millions of people in this country aren't feeling the benefits. We shouldn't kid ourselves that it's getting better for everyone out there."The reality is that millions of British households are still facing huge financial pressures, with wages barely covering higher living costs. And with talk of interest rates rising, any hope that those financial pressures might ease seems a forlorn one."It's more important than ever that households take an honest look at their household budgets and see if there are savings that can be made… Our quality of life is important and even minor changes could have a positive impact on our standard of living."For Re:locate news and features on living in the UK, click here and for more on the UK, click here

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