Waverley tops rural living rundown
Nestled in a corner of Surrey, the area of Waverley enjoys the highest living standards in rural Britain, a report has found.
The South East dominated Halifax's list of countryside districts with the best lifestyles, with Northern England accounting for just three places in the top 50 through Selby, the East Riding of Yorkshire and Hambleton, while Scotland and Wales were not represented.
The Home Counties triumphed, with Uttlesford in Essex in second place and neighbouring East Hertfordshire third in the survey, which scored districts on a range of criteria including health and life expectancy, exam results, employment and earnings, the environment, crime rates and house price affordability.
Meanwhile, Rushcliffe and South Northamptonshire in the East Midlands were the only local authorities in the top 10 list from outside the South East or East of England.
Waverley takes its name from Waverley Abbey, reputedly the first Cistercian abbey in England.
The borough, which was recently a backdrop for Steven Spielberg's film War Horse, contains an area of outstanding natural beauty in Blackheath Common and is bordered by the North Downs. Its historic towns include Godalming, whose origins can be traced back to Saxon times.
The Halifax Quality of Life Survey found that Waverley performed strongly across the board in the factors it looked at. Male Waverley residents have an average life expectancy of almost 81 years and 97% of the population generally is deemed to be in "good health".
The average weekly wage in the area is £888 - significantly above the UK average of £609. The employment rate is almost 80%, which is also well above typical UK levels.
House prices are also relatively affordable at about £325,000, which is 5.6 times local earnings. Across rural Britain, house prices cost around six times annual earnings. Nearly a third (16) of the 50 local authority districts with the highest quality of life were in the South East while the East of England claimed 13 spots and the East Midlands had 11.
Of the remainder, five places went to the South West, three to Yorkshire and the Humber and two were taken by the West Midlands.