Where are the best places to live in the countryside?

Annual report includes factors such as broadband access, weather, and school results

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The Independent Online

People living in Uttlesford in Essex have the best quality of life of any rural area in Britain, suggests a new report

The annual 2014 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey puts last year’s winner Waverley in third place, and Uttlesford in Essex in the top spot, followed by South Northamptonshire.

Uttlesford, home to Stansted Airport, has made the top five before, coming second in 2013, third in 2011, and fourth in 2010. Overall, the best rural areas in which to live are dominated by the East of England, East Midlands, and the South East.

Earlier in the week, Bristol was named as the best city in the UK to live in, thanks to its “great shopping, great scenery and great social scene”.

"Uttlesford has consistently reported positive scores across a wide range of indicators for a number of years," said Craig McKinlay, Halifax Mortgage Director. "And taking a wide range of economic and social factors into account residents here can now lay claim to having the highest standard of living in rural Britain."

The survey takes a wide range of factors into account, including residents' health and life expectancy, crime rate, weather, employment, school results, broadband access, and personal wellbeing.

Uttlesford residents are comparatively wealthy, with average weekly earnings of £819 and an employment rate of 84 per cent, both well above the national average. Nearly 97 per cent report being in general good health. However, the average house price in the area is seven times local earnings, well above the average rural house price to earnings ratio for all rural areas of 6.2.