Relocating in the UK: where best for quality of life?

Hart is the new home of the UK’s best place to live, according to the latest Halifax Quality of Life survey. The Hampshire town has topped the annual report for five years out of six.

Quality of life and work life balance
With the new year on the horizon, thoughts often turn to the future. If a new job, new home or relocation is on your mind, the 2017 Halifax Quality of Life survey shows the most appealing destinations for overall quality of life.Measuring UK local authority districts on 26 variables including personal wellbeing and health, education, leisure, affordability, broadband connectivity, career prospects, crime rates and climate, headline findings from bank’s survey this year finds:
  • Hart in the South East regains top spot from Winchester, which falls four places 
  • Three out of five of the best places to live are in southern England 
  • People in Craven, North Yorkshire are the happiest in the UK, moving up 56 places since 2016. 

Best place to live in the UK

Hart in North East Hampshire came out top based on residents' health and life expectancy, wellbeing, earnings, employment, a low crime rate and relatively good weather. This despite the tranquil town’s above-average property prices.The average house price of £419,231 is 8.8 times the average annual pre-tax local income, which compares to the national average ratio of 7.3. Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: “Hart seems to have been offering residents an unrivalled mix of living standards for five of the last six years, seeing employment rates, average earnings and ONS personal wellbeing rankings bounce back after falling from the top spot last year.“Along with Hart, many areas in southern England score strongly in categories including the labour markets and health."Northern areas tend to perform well on education and benefit from more affordable properties with lower house prices to earnings.” 

Top 10 best local authorities for quality of life (2016 rank in brackets)

  1. Hart, South East (26)
  2. Orkeney Islands, Scotland (2)
  3. Rutland, East Midlands (28)
  4. Wychavon, West Midlands (3)
  5. Winchester, South East (1)
  6. Wokingham, South East (9)
  7. Waverley, South East (17)
  8. Craven, Yorkshire and the Humber (64)
  9. Richmondshire, Yorkshire and the Humber (33)
  10. Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands (21)

Is there still a North-South divide in the UK?

More than two-thirds (35) of the top 50 best places to live in the UK are in southern England, with 17 in the South East, a further nine areas in the East of England, five in the South West and four in London. These areas include Wokingham (6), Waverley (7), Uttlesford (11), Westminster (13), South Oxfordshire (14), St Albans (15) and Chiltern (19). The remaining 15 are in Yorkshire and the Humber (6), West Midlands (4) the East Midlands (2), Scotland, Wales and the North West (all 1).These areas include the North Yorkshire districts of Craven (8), Richmondshire (9),Ryedale (12), Stratford-upon-Avon (10), Harrogate (27) and Monmouthshire (32). Halifax reports a a clear distinction in key strengths between areas in the South and the North. Local authority districts in the South are particularly strong in the labour market due to high employment levels and average earnings, on long life expectancy and where adults rate themselves to be in good health. Geography also benefits these areas with more hours of sunshine and less rainfall. In the North, most areas have relatively better housing affordability conditions with a low house price to earnings ratio. They also benefit from the urban environmental factors such as low traffic flows, crime rates and fewer people per square kilometre. This in turn could explain why these areas have very low average primary school sizes. In the ONS personal well-being survey there is less of a distinction, though Craven in North Yorkshire comes out top in three of the four indicators.
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Quality of life key consideration in relocation

A number of recent surveys repeatedly suggest that for both domestic and international relocation, quality of life is a key consideration and across all generations in the workplace.Personal well-being is based on four categories in Halifax’s survey: life satisfaction, worthwhile, happiness and anxiety.The key findings here are that:
  • Adults (16 and over) in Craven in North Yorkshire have the highest average rating for life satisfaction in the UK. Based on a score out of 10, the adults in this area had an average rating of 8.5.The UK average is 7.7 
  • With a rating of 8.7 (out of 10) adults in North Warwickshire believe what they do in life is worthwhile, the highest average rating in the UK. The national average is 7.9 
  • The happiest adults are in Craven, with an average rating of 8.3 – significantly higher than the UK average of 7.5 
  • Craven again comes out top with adults the least anxious with an average rating of 2.0. The average for the UK is 2.9.

The UK’s best place to live for education and schools

Education, too, is often a critical – and make-or-break – consideration for families with school-age children on the move.Here, the Halifax Quality of Life survey finds that primary school class sizes are smallest in Scotland. Nine of the ten local authority districts with the smallest primary school classes are in Scotland. The Western Isles has the lowest number of children per class in the UK, with 17.3 compared to a national average of 27.0.For secondary schools, Northern Ireland has six out of the top ten authorities featuring in the lowest secondary school pupil-teacher ratio. The Western Isles has the lowest secondary school pupil teacher ratio of 13.4 compared to 20.8 across the UK as a whole.The best GCSE results in England are achieved by students in Kingston upon Thames (75.7%) and Trafford (71.4%) Both are above the UK average of 59.5%. For highest spend, the highest average school (both secondary and primary) spend per pupil is in the Orkney Islands (£9,662) – twice the UK average of £4,645.For related news and features, visit our residential property section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entries open in January. Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory