NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Orkney tops UK rural quality of life survey

Sunset looking towards St Margaret's Hope Image copyright Gavin Maclean
Image caption Orkney climbed to the top of the quality of rural life survey, after finishing 46th last year.

People living in Orkney enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in the UK, according to a new survey.

As well as stunning scenery, researchers found that the islanders benefit from low crime rates, quiet roads - and a good choice of pubs.

It is the first time that the islands have topped the Bank of Scotland's rural quality of life survey, having jumped from 46th last year.

It beat Wychavon in the West Midlands into second place.

And it comes four months after the same islands were rated the second-best place to live in the UK.

Image copyright Mervyn Rendall
Image caption Islanders benefit from low crime rates, quiet roads - and beautiful scenery

Graham Blair, mortgage director at Bank of Scotland, said: "The Orkney islands is a stunning part of Scotland with some beautiful scenery.

"Pair this with one of the lowest population densities and traffic levels in Scotland, as well as the lowest levels of anxiety and highest life satisfaction ratings, and it's not surprising that the Orkneys offer a quality of life that is unmatched elsewhere in rural Britain.

"The Shetland Islands and Western Isles continue to dominate the Scottish rural quality of life top three for another year, ranking well in a lot of similar categories to Orkney.

"If it's a rural life you are after, then nothing beats being up north on one of Scotland's many islands."

Shetland was ranked second in Scotland for quality of life (15th in the UK), while the Western Isles was third (50th overall). The Scottish Borders and Perth and Kinross finished third and fourth respectively.


Image copyright Elke Zschippang
Image caption Orkney finished above Wychavon on the West Midlands and the Derbyshire Dales

The top rural areas with the best quality of life

  1. Orkney Islands, Scotland;
  2. Wychavon, West Midlands;
  3. Derbyshire Dales, East Midlands;
  4. Hambleton, Yorkshire and the Humber;
  5. Purbeck, South West
  6. South Cambridgeshire, East of England;
  7. Chiltern, South East;
  8. West Oxfordshire, South East;
  9. South Hams, South West;
  10. South Oxfordshire, South East.

The quality of life survey rates locations based on a variety of factors, including its employment rate, quality of education, and levels of anxiety.

This year, two new categories have also been added to survey - rating the number of pubs and the availability of health clubs and leisure centres.

Among the benefits of living on Orkney, where the population stands at just over 20,000, it listed:

  • A large number of pubs to choose from - there are 20 pubs for every 10,000 adults;
  • The lowest crime rates in Britain - a burglary rate of 2.3 per 10,000 people compared with a Scottish average of 27.2;
  • Low levels of traffic, with just 142 cars per square kilometre. The British average is 9,617;
  • The employment rate (87.6%) is significantly higher than the rural average (77.4%);
  • An overwhelming majority of adults (96.6%) reported being in good health, compared to the British average of 94.6%.
Image copyright Alan Guthrie
Image caption It is the fourth year running that Orkney has topped the Scotland-wide poll on rural quality of life