Winchester named as the UK's best place to live:historic cathedral city in Hampshire takes top spot in 'quality of life' survey

A historic cathedral city in Hampshire has been named the UK’s best place to live, thanks to a combination of above average weekly earnings and a low crime rate...

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The historic cathedral city of Winchester has been named as the best place to live in the UK.

The Hampshire city, under an hour by train from Waterloo, came top in the Halifax's annual Quality of Life survey. Perched alongside the South Downs, it has stunning architecture, great schools and plenty of green spaces. 

The survey took into account factors such as health, life expectancy, employment, earnings, crime rate and Office for National Statistics figures about residents' happiness.

For the first time, the survey also included the number of pubs and the availability of health and leisure facilities.

Martin Ellis, economist at the Halifax, said: “Residents of Winchester enjoy the best quality of life in the UK, benefiting from a combination of above average weekly earnings, low crime rate and good health. 

"On the other hand, there is a cost associated with a high quality of life, with house prices in Winchester 9.7 times the average annual local income – significantly higher than the UK average of 7.2."

According to Rightmove, the average house price in Winchester is £486,083, 21 per cent higher than in 2013.

Winchester's employment rate, at 83 per cent, is much higher than the national average of 73 per cent, while residents earn almost £200 more than the UK average - £824 a week.

Crime rates are among the lowest, and the number of pubs and lesiure facitilies are among the highest.

It's little wonder latest ONS figures indicate Winchester's adults are all in the top 30 in the categories of happiest, satisfied, content and the least anxious.

Philip Blanchard, director at Jackson-Stops & Staff in Winchester, says three types of buyers are generally attracted to the city: the first being families in surrounding villages who want to move in for its schools; families leaving London who choose it for its amenities, easy access to the capital, south coast and countryside; and downsizers who want city living without the frenetic lifestyle of a major metropolis.

Other top spots
Scotland's Orkney Islands took second place, followed by the picturesque district of Wychavon in the West Midlands and East Midlands's Derbyshire Dales, of which much is located in the Peak District.

The South East was well represented with eight districts listed in the top 20, including the commuter towns of St Albans in Hertfordshire - which is known as a "mini-London" and Wokingham in Berkshire, which sits between Reading and London.

Taking 20th place was the City of London, where average weekly earnings are the second highest in the country at £1,106. The City is a leading driver of the London economy with an annual output of £45 billion — equivalent to 14 per cent of the capital’s GDP.

Most residents live in the Barbican, a well-maintained City of London estate where most of the flats and maisonettes are now owner-occupied. 

Other London boroughs in the top 50 were leafy Richmond in the south-west in 31st place, and Westminster in 44th place, which is undergoing dramatic change driven by the regeneration of Victoria.

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