Rutland in the East Midlands has been ranked the best rural place to live in England – pipped to the post by Orkney as the best rural place to live in the UK as a whole.
It marks a big rise in the rankings for Rutland, which was in 19th position last year, and pushes Wychavon in the West Midlands to third place.
The survey assesses a range of factors, including health, employment, crime rates as well as education, housing, broadband speed, pollution, weather and leisure facilities.
Craven in North Yorkshire has the happiest adults in the country, according to the survey, with Copeland in Cumbria home to the lowest average house price to earnings ratio.
Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “The winning formula for quality of life in the countryside seems to consistently include high employment levels and top scores on wellbeing, along with low school class sizes and high average spend per pupil – more than twice the national average.
“However, there is more variety and balance across the country scoring strongly across each category this year, with rural areas in the south east receiving higher weekly earnings, while the East Midlands have larger property sizes.
“On the southern coast, sunnier climates shine through in the rankings, while, lower house prices to earnings, wellbeing and class sizes give northern areas the desirability factor.”
The Orkney Islands scored well on high employment, high spend per pupil on education, low crime rate and good overall life satisfaction and happiness.
People in Rutland had high average life expectancy of 82 years for males and 85 years for females, with nearly all adults considering themselves to be in good health.
Nine out of ten homes in Rutland have super-fast broadband and 6.4 habitable rooms per home – some of the biggest in the country.
Schools in Rutland also performed well, with 70% of 15-year-olds achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A to C – among the highest in the UK.
Wychavon in the West Midlands, and Winchester and Waverley scored well on personal well-being and life expectancy, with Waverley boasting the highest wages of £921 per week.
Almost one third of the top 50 best rural places to live are in the south and east – including nine districts in the south-east and 10 each in the south-west and East Anglia.
Top areas outside these regions include Craven and Richmondshire, both in Yorkshire; Stratford upon Avon in the West Midlands; and Monmouthshire in Wales.
The top rural places to live in 2018 are as follows:
|6||Craven||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|7||Richmondshire||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|9||Uttlesford||East of England|
|10||Ryedale||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|11||South Oxfordshire||South East|
|12||Selby||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|13||St Edmundsbury||East of England|
|14||Suffolk Coastal||East of England|
|16||Hambleton||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|17||West Oxfordshire||South East|
|21||South Cambridgeshire||East of England|
|24||Babergh||East of England|
|25||Maldon||East of England|
|27||Aylesbury Vale||South East|
|29||West Dorset||South West|
|30||East Devon||South West|
|31||Mid Devon||South West|
|33||Malvern Hills||West Midlands|
|34||South Norfolk||East of England|
|35||South Lakeland||North West|
|36||Vale of White Horse||South East|
|37||South Hams||South West|
|38||Huntingdonshire||East of England|
|40||North Warwickshire||West Midlands|
|42||East Hampshire||South East|
|43||Central Bedfordshire||East of England|
|44||Derbyshire Dales||East Midlands|
|45||North Devon||South West|
|46||Mid Suffolk||East of England|
|47||East Riding of Yorkshire||Yorkshire & the Humber|
|49||Ribble Valley||North West|
|50||North Kesteven||East Midlands|
Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.