PEOPLE living in rural areas of the UK are becoming more positive about the future and happier about their quality of life than those in urban areas, according to a survey.

It showed the economic optimism of people living in the countryside leapt by 10.71% between the first and second quarter of 2013, with rising satisfaction about the cost of living, education and crime. However, confidence in jobs and the economy fell 3.81% in urban areas.

The findings came just days after Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead warned MSPs a lack of digital connectivity was adding to push factors such as a scarcity of housing and job shortages, which drive depopulation in rural areas.

The survey was carried out by the insurer NFU Mutual, which attributed the change in its regular Countryside Living Index (CLI) to a positive reaction to the Budget, and called for further 'rural-friendly' measures in the autumn statement.

Asked to rate their ability to afford life in the countryside on a scale of one to 10, more than quarter (28%) of those who took part in the CLI returned a score of eight or more, and more than half (59%) at least a six. The measure of how positive people feel about the cost of living was up 11.21% in rural areas compared with 4.93% in urban areas.

Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: "The recession made life in the countryside tough for many people so it's great news to see concerns about the cost of living easing. However, for young people the lack of rural jobs paying a living wage and high transport and housing costs continue to make it hard for them to live in the countryside."