The 10 places to live in the UK for the best quality of life (and the 10 with the worst) and how London compares

 
Lynsey Barber
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The quality of life for Londoners is improving
The quality of life for Londoners is improving

If you've ever considered escaping the London rat race in search of a better life, you'll do no better than settling in Edinburgh.

The city has been crowned the best place in the country for quality of life, based on 26 different factors such as working hours, life expectancy, disposable income and even the number of hours of sunshine.

Edinburgh's success is down to having the lowest reported crime rate in the country, cheap petrol and energy bills, high average salaries (£29,588 to be exact) and a disposable household income of £20,083.

Read more: The top 20 best jobs for work-life balance

It also has great broadband download speeds of 30Mbps - an essential in Maslow's modern day hierarchy of needs.

In fact, Scotland is the place to be for the good life, with four of the top 10 spots in the list located north of the border and the country experiencing a vast improvement in quality of life, according to USwitch's Quality of Life Index.

Edinburgh had a meteoric rise of 97 places since 2013, pushing 2013's winner, Solihull, into the number two spot. Meanwhile, Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire in south west Scotland experienced the biggest jump, going from 112th to 10th place. The top seven biggest risers in the index were located in Scotland.

Where to find the best quality of life

1. Edinburgh

2. Solihull

3. Hertfordshire

4. Northumberland

5. South Lanarkshire

6. Berkshire

7. Darlington

8. North Lanarkshire

9. York

10. Inverclyde

Places to avoid which lurk at the bottom of the ranking include Bradford and Hull in Yorkshire, while three of the five areas in Northern Ireland were placed in the bottom 10.

Bradford tumbled 43 places, while Northern Irish areas fell 68, 75 and 91 places, to bring up the rear of the list. Even sunny Devon, famed for its beaches and holiday feel, slipped 46 places to 132 out of 138.

"Despite a buoyant UK economy, millions of people in this country aren’t feeling the benefits," said USwitch's director of consumer policy Ann Robinson.

"We shouldn’t kid ourselves it’s getting better for everyone out there. The reality is millions of British households are still facing huge financial pressures, with wages barely covering higher living costs. And with talk of interest rates rising, any hope that those financial pressures might ease seems a forlorn one."

The UK cities with the worst quality of life

1. Bradford

2. Hull

3. North of Northern Ireland

4. Eilean Siar (Western Isles)

5. West and south of Northern Ireland

6. Blackpool

7. Devon

8. Central Valleys (Wales)

9. East of Northern Ireland

10. South Teeside

The good news for anyone committed to London is that quality of life in the capital is improving.

Of 138 places across the country on the list, outer south London is the highest ranking area in the capital.

Covering places such as Bromley, Croydon, Merton, Kingston and Sutton, it's ranked 15th overall, and climbed a not to shabby three places on 2013.

Outer north west London, which includes areas such as Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Harrow and Richmond, placed 33rd, climbing an impressive 22 places.

Meanwhile, to the east, the area covering locations such as Greenwich, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest and Enfield shot up eight places to number 75.

Inner London boroughs to the east, such as Hackney, Lewisham, Islington and Tower Hamlets came in at 84th and to the west - including Westminster, Camden, Kensington and Chelsea - the area was 87th. Both climbed up the rankings, by 15 and 14 places respectively.

West London is the hardest-working place in the country, with 41 per cent of people clocking up a 45 hour week. But it's also the richest, with average full-time salaries of £35,464 a £39,602 disposable income.

London’s rise in the rankings was down to better education, with more children achieving GCSE pass grades, and it also has above-average hours of sunshine and fast broadband.

However, expensive property, the high cost of food and the large number of people working a 45-hour plus week prevented the capital from rising higher.

Check out the full list here.

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