A happy home is where the Hart is

Hart has managed to retain its position at the top of the Quality of Life Survey by scoring consistently highly across almost all categories.

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."

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.

The 80% employment rate is significantly higher than the national average (71%), while gross average weekly earnings of £843 are £226 (or 37%) higher than the UK average of £616.

New ONS figures indicate 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 is 7.0 times the average annual pre-tax local income – higher than the UK average of 5.8.

Uttlesford moves into second place

The Essex district climbed up from sixth in 2012, having performed particularly well on employment (84%) and weekly average earnings (£819); while 97% of residents enjoy good or fairly good health; and at 81.8 years men have a higher than average life expectancy.

But, living Uttlesford is also expensive, with an average house price to earnings ratio of 7.0.

However, what has most helped Uttlesford is the new ONS survey which reveals adults here believe, more than in any other part of the UK, that what they do in life is worthwhile (scoring 8.4 out of 10). And as such they are among the most satisfied and happiest in the country (see Table 3).

South versus Northern

The top 50 places to live in the UK are again dominated by the South East with almost half found in this region, well ahead of the East of England which claims twelve of the top 50 spots.

However, the number of areas outside the south in the top 50 has doubled in the last 12 months to 12: and now includes South Northamptonshire (3rd), Rushcliffe in Nottingham (7th), Rutland (21st), Harrogate (33rd),Stratford-on-Avon (35th), and the Orkney Islands (50th).

Southern areas tend to receive higher ratings for weekly earnings, the weather, health, and life expectancy. Whereas Northern areas score well on education in terms of grades and smaller class sizes, lower house prices in relation to earnings, and lower traffic flows.