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Orkney scrapes on to list of top 50 places in UK to live

Orkney has scraped on to a "top 50" list of most desirable places to live in the UK.

Hart in Hampshire was crowned the best location for the third year in a row.

The annual Halifax quality of life survey looks at a wide range of factors such as health and life expectancy, crime rates, weather, employment and the performance of local schools.

Nowhere in Wales or Northern Ireland made the "top 50" list, but Scotland scraped in with the Orkney Islands placed at number 50. Just one area of London was included, with the City of London in 38th position.

Nestled in the north-east corner of Hampshire, residents of Hart were found to be the healthiest in the UK, with 97.4% of residents reported to be 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 with the national average of 79 years. The 80% employment rate in Hart is also significantly above the national average of 71%, while typical weekly earnings in Hart at £843 are more than one-third higher than the national average of £616.

The district of Hart, which is centred on the town of Fleet, has been dubbed "a step back in time", with 84 square miles of green wooded landscape and Hampshire's largest freshwater lake.

But Hart residents face paying a high premium to live there. The average house price in Hart is seven times the annual local wage - much higher than the UK average multiple of 5.8 times.

Uttlesford in Essex, which came in second place, also has an average house price-to-earnings ratio of seven. Uttlesford, which was placed at number six a year ago, performed particularly well with its 84% employment rate and weekly average earnings of £819.

This year saw several big climbers into the top 10 list of districts with the best quality of life.

South Northamptonshire soared up 27 places to the third spot, Rushcliffe in Nottingham shot up from number 22 last year to seven and Winchester, which was placed at number 34 in 2012, is now in ninth place.

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