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Life quality 'far higher in South'

People living in the South enjoy a far higher quality of life than those in northern areas of the country, research has indicated.

Just four of the top 50 local authority areas that have the best quality of life are outside the South, and all of these are in the Midlands, according to high street bank Halifax.

Hambleton is the highest ranked area of Yorkshire and the Humber in terms of quality of life, and it ranks just 78th overall, while Castle Morpeth in the North East comes 114th and Congleton in the North West is 121st.

Elmbridge in Surrey topped the table for offering the best quality of life for the third year running, based on a range of factors including health and life expectancy, employment, school results, crime, house sizes and the weather.

The group found that 95% of people in Elmbridge were in good health, while they had a higher than average life expectancy of 81.4 years, 75% of people were employed, earning higher than average weekly incomes of £1,018. Schools in the area produced above average results, while the area enjoys more sunshine and less rain than the rest of the UK.

Hart in Hampshire boasts the second highest quality of life, followed by Wokingham in Berkshire, Sevenoaks in Kent and South Cambridgeshire. Overall, two thirds of the top 50 local authority areas that have the best quality of life are in the South East, while 11 are in the East, two are in the South West and just one, Richmond upon Thames, is in London.

Aberdeenshire is the highest ranked place in Scotland in terms of quality of life, but it comes only 178th overall, while Monmouthshire is the top place to live in Wales but it ranks only 189th nationally.

The research found that northern areas tended to receive high ratings for exam results and environmental measures, such as low population densities and low levels of traffic, while southern areas were more likely to rank highly on average earnings, employment levels, health and weather.

Nitesh Patel, housing 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 Elmbridge has delivered against a range of indicators to demonstrate that its residents have the best quality of life in Britain. The Surrey district scores highly on several measures, including health, life expectancy, employment, average earnings and school results."

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