The best places to live in the countryside are revealed..........

Date Published 01 March 2016

The place with the best quality of life for country dwellers has been revealed as South Oxfordshire.

The area reached the top slot after scoring well on health, happiness and life expectancy, according to the annual Halifax survey. Chiltern in Buckinghamshire is in second place while Rutland takes the third spot.

The top 50 list is dominated by the South East, with 16 districts found in the region, followed by the East of England which claims 12 of the top 50 positions.

The survey takes into account a wide range of factors, including residents' health, life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband and personal wellbeing.
Life expectancy for women in South Oxfordshire is 84.7 years, three years longer than males at 81.7, while 97 per cent of those living in the area report themselves to be in good health.

South Oxfordshire also scores highly on employment, with four out of five residents being in work, with average weekly earnings of £863.

Residents in Chiltern also enjoy a high employment rate, with average weekly earnings of £912, the highest among rural areas in the survey.

Rutland is Britain's third most desirable rural place to live, with residents being in good health, having a high employment rate, benefiting from a low crime rate and enjoying a relatively good climate with less rainfall and more sunshine than the national average.

There were several big climbers in the top 20, with West Dorset rising 47 places to number 17, East Hampshire up 35 places to 16 and East Dorset moving from slot 47 to 20.

Areas outside the south that are in the top 50 besides Rutland include Hambleton in North Yorkshire at 18, Wychavon in the West Midlands, Monmouthshire at 35, the Orkney Islands at 46 and Ribble Valley in the North West at 49.

The survey found that the biggest homes are in Uttlesford in Essex, Chiltern and Rutland, which all have an average of 6.4 rooms.

The smallest rooms are in the Orkney Islands, East Lothian, Highlands, and Argyle and Bute - all with no more than 4.6 rooms. The average number of rooms in Britain is 5.4.

Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: 'Having scored strongly across a wide range of economic, environmental and social factors, residents of South Oxfordshire can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain.

'Many of the towns in the top 20 are either within commuting distance to the capital or another major city. With South Oxfordshire particularly, the residents can enjoy the financial benefits of working in London and still have the rural lifestyle. 'Importantly having an exceptional quality of life does not necessarily come with added costs, as house prices relative to earnings in the area are not much different from the average for the country.'