The UK's most desirable places to live
The Hampshire district of Hart is the most desirable place to live in the UK for the third year running, according to a new survey.
The 2013 Halifax Quality of Life Survey found Hart residents are the healthiest in the UK, with 97.4% reporting being in good or fairly good health. They also live the longest in the UK, with an average male life expectancy of 82.9 years, compared to the national average of 79 years.
Hart's 80% employment rate is higher than the national average (71%), while gross average weekly earnings of £843 are £226 (37%) higher than the UK average of £616.
And, with the inclusion for the first time in the study of the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) survey into people's personal wellbeing, the adult population is among the most happy, satisfied and content in the UK.
The cost of living in Hart, however, is high: the average house price in Hart if seven times the average annual pre-tax local income – higher than the UK average of 5.8.
In second place in the desirability stakes is Uttlesford in Essex, with 97% of residents enjoying good or fairly good health and with men having a higher than average life expectancy of 81.8 years. It also performed well on employment (84%) and weekly average earnings (£819).
Other districts in the top 10 best places to live for the first time are South Northamptonshire, which has climbed 27 places to third place, Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire (up form 22nd to seventh) and Winchester up from 34th to ninth place. The inclusion of the new ONS survey on wellbeing accounts for their rapid rise in Halifax's survey.
Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, said: "The old adage of 'Health, Wealth and Happiness' is the traditional measure of a good quality of life. For the third year running, Hart has delivered against a range of indicators to demonstrate its residents have the best quality of life in the UK.
"The Hampshire district scores highly on most of the measures used, including health, life expectancy, employment, average earnings, low crime, and relatively good weather. These factors are reflected in the fact that adults in Hart rate themselves among the happiest and least anxious in the country and believe what they do in life is worthwhile."