Aberdeenshire regains top spot for best rural quality of life in Scotland
20 April 2013
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.
Aberdeenshire has claimed the top spot for the fourth time since 2006, regaining the position it last held in 2010. Shetland Islands held the top spot in 2011, for the third time since 2006.
Why Aberdeenshire is a great place to live
People living in Aberdeenshire tend to be fit and well, with 93% reporting themselves to be in good or fairly good health and 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%. In addition, Aberdeenshire has one of the lowest population densities in Great Britain, with just 39 people per square kilometre. 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 1339mm 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. And in addition, only 70% have a good level of broadband access.
Scottish islands continue to score highly
In second place, the Shetland Islands scored particularly highly on employment (81%) and weekly average earnings (£631). As well as these factors, residents on the islands benefit from an extremely low population density of just 15 people per square kilometre.
Over 90% of inhabitants also report being in good or fairly good health and on average they live for 77.2 years.
With just 17.5 pupils per class the Shetland Islands can also boast low primary schools class sizes compared to the Scottish average of 20.4, and high achieve exam results with 88.4% achieving five or more SCQF level 4 awards.
Just behind Shetland are the Orkney Islands. Residents here benefit particularly from extremely low crime rates of just one burglary per 10,000 households. Like those in the Aberdeenshire and the Shetland Islands they are similarly fit and well, with 93% of inhabitants reporting being in good or fairly good health and inhabitants living on average for 77.3 years.
Nitesh Patel, economist at Bank of Scotland, commented:
"Aberdeenshire has performed consistently strongly across a wide range of indicators for a number of years, and the latest survey found residents here now have the best quality of life in rural Scotland.
Recent surveys have shown the Shetland and Orkney Islands to have performed well in a number of factors, but this year they have been overtaken by Aberdeenshire
While Aberdeenshire might not necessarily be the top area in any one factor, its strength is that it performs strongly across nearly all indicators. The average resident has a high income compared to other rural areas and benefits from bigger homes with central heating. On top of this, health and life expectancy are above average, crime is low and there are extremely low traffic volumes.
It is the combination of factors taken together which ensure that residents in Aberdeenshire enjoy the highest standard of living in rural Scotland."