A new poll has shown that the charm of the north-east was still in place as Aberdeenshire was voted the best place to live in Scotland for the second year in a row.
The Halifax Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey ranked the area top overall in its annual poll.
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Residents in Aberdeenshire were found to enjoy good health, well-performing schools and low unemployment. And even though the area has seen significant snowfall this month, the weather was said to be better than in other parts of Scotland.
The results showed life expectancy in Aberdeenshire is a higher-than-average 78, with nine out of 10 people reporting they were fit and well. Employment in the area was estimated at 80% and, according to the poll, the level of school qualifications is above the national average, with 83% achieving five or more SCQF level 4 awards.
Residents in the north east also enjoy less rainfall per year – 999mm against the Scottish average of 1295mm, and slightly more weekly sunshine hours – 25.5 hours compared to the average 24.9 hours.
Business tycoon Donald Trump selected Menie, in Aberdeenshire, as the location for his £750 million golf resort.
The development is expected to boost tourism significantly in the north east.
The American businessman said it was the picturesque coastline that convinced him to plump for the area.
A spokeswoman from Visit-Scotland said: “It is no surprise that Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen have performed so highly in this survey. Aberdeen City and Shire together boast the best of both worlds – offering fantastic rural scenery from mountain to coast, all within easy reach of a bustling, well-connected city with a range of shops, cafes and bars and a vibrant nightlife.
“The region’s tourism offering is unique, with a choice of world class golf courses and other outdoor pursuits, alongside world famous castle and whisky trails.”
The results also showed the Shetland Islands came top for jobs, with a reported 86.1% employment rate.
The Western Isles had the lowest number of house break-ins and Dundee saw the least rainfall.
However, the poll for the whole of the UK ranked Aberdeenshire as 178th overall.
The survey found that Elmbridge in Surrey topped the table for offering the best quality of life for the third year running.
It 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 £1018. 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 was found to have the second-highest quality of life, followed by Wokingham in Berkshire, Sevenoaks in Kent and south Cambridgeshire.
The research indicated that people living in the south of England enjoy a far higher quality of life than those in north.
Two-thirds of the top 50 local authority areas that have the best quality of life are found in the south-east, while 11 are in the east, two were in the south- west and just one, Richmond upon Thames, was in London.
Nitesh Patel, housing economist at HBOS, said: “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.”