Residents of Aberdeenshire have the best quality of life of any rural area in Scotland, according to the latest Bank of Scotland Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.
The ranking means that Aberdeenshire has claimed the top spot for the fourth time since 2006, regaining the position it last held in 2010. The Shetland Islands held the top spot in 2011, for the third time since 2006.
The survey highlights a number of reasons why Aberdeenshire has grabbed the top spot again:
- residents tend to be fit and well, with 93% reporting themselves to be in good or fairly good health,
- they have a higher than average life expectancy of 78.2 years,
- the employment rate is 79%, with weekly average earnings of £661,
- the level of school qualifications is above the national average – 82.6% achieve five or more SCQF level 4 awards compared to the average for Scotland of 82.3%,
- it has one of the lowest population densities in Great Britain, with just 39 people per square kilometre, and
- on average residents in Aberdeenshire receive 25.5 hours of sunshine per week compared to an average of 24.2 across Scotland as a whole and only 999mm of rain per year compared to an average of 1,339mm across the country.
The quality of life does have some costs though. While they have the largest houses in Scotland and live in relative security, with burglary rates of just 14.5 per 10,000 households, the average price of a house in Aberdeenshire is 5.7 times the average gross annual local earnings – above the Scottish average of 5 times average gross annual local earnings.
South Lanarkshire did not feature in the survey, sadly, although neighbouring East Ayrshire was highlighted as the rural area with the lowest house price to earnings ratio in Scotland – at 3.6 times local annual average earnings.
Somewhat bizarrely, East Ayrshire is also the area with the largest percentage of houses with central heating (100%), and, alongside East Lothian, is one of the areas with the lowest CO2 emissions (2.5 tonnes per person).