Residents of East Cambridgeshire have the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain, according to a survey.
The South dominates the list in Halifax‘s Rural Areas Quality of Life survey, with nowhere in Wales making the top 50 at all. The study looked at the performance of local authority districts in terms of employment, the housing market, the environment, education and health, to determine the overall quality of life.
East Cambridgeshire includes the bustling city of Ely, known for its imposing cathedral which towers over the Fens. Last year’s winner was South Cambridgeshire, which was knocked into third place this year, with Wychavon in Worcestershire in second place.
Those who compiled the study said East Cambridgeshire residents tend to be fit and well, with 93% reporting general good health, with a high typical life expectancy of 82 years.
The employment rate there stands at 79%, and many residents enjoy relatively high incomes with weekly average earnings of £707, researchers said. Residents also have the lowest domestic carbon emissions of all rural local area districts.
Enjoying a high quality of life in East Cambridgeshire also tends to come at a reasonable price, researchers found, with the average house price standing at 5.3 times local annual earnings, below the typical ratio for rural areas of 5.9.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “In particular, health and life expectancy in East Cambridgeshire are amongst the highest of all rural areas. This only adds to the general high performance of East Cambridgeshire in employment, average earnings and low CO2 emissions.”
Almost a third (15) of the top 50 local authority districts with the best quality of life were found to be in the South East, with 13 in the East of England, 12 in the East Midlands, four in the South West, three in Yorkshire and the Humber, two in Scotland and one in the West Midlands.
The study found a general trend of rural areas in the North tending to receive high ratings on school exam results, environmental measures such as low population densities and low traffic flows and lower house prices compared with local earnings. However rural areas in the south of England typically performed better on average earnings, employment, health and weather.
Employment is highest in the Shetland Islands at 84% while average earnings in the district of Chiltern are the highest in the study at £893 a week. Pendle in Lancashire is the most affordable rural local authority district, with an average house price to annual earnings ratio of 3.5.