Hampshire's Hart Is Most Desirable Place To Live In UK
The Hampshire district of Hart has been named as the UK's most desirable location to live in a study measuring quality of life - but nowhere in the North of England, Scotland or Wales made the top 50.
Halifax's annual report took jobs, the housing market, education, health and crime into account, as well as factors like the weather, traffic flows and broadband access.
More than half (27) of the top 50 most desirable places to live in the 2011 Quality of Life Survey are in southern England with a further 15 areas in eastern England.
Wokingham, East Cambridgeshire, Brentwood, St Albans, Maidstone, South Cambridgeshire and Epsom and Ewell all made the top 10.
The local authority district of Hart lies in the north-east corner of Hampshire, with the River Hart flowing through its centre.
The rural area includes the towns of Fleet and Yateley and contains around 1,000 buildings listed as being of special architectural or historical interest and more than 30 conservation areas.
Halifax economist Martin Ellis said: "Residents of Hart in Hampshire enjoy the best quality of life in the UK.
"They benefit from a combination of above-average weekly earnings, a low crime rate and good health amongst other factors.
"On the other hand, average house prices in the area are amongst the highest relative to local earnings, highlighting that a high standard of living often comes at a price."
Average house prices in Hart are 6.3 times average local earnings, compared with a typical UK ratio of 5.25.
Hart toppled Elmbridge in Surrey, which had been ranked in first place for the previous three years.
Elmbridge, which came second this year, also enjoys a high employment rate and higher earnings compared with the rest of the UK, but also has high house prices compared with earnings, with a ratio of 7.82.
The only areas outside the south in the top 50 were Wychavon in Worcestershire, Rushcliffe in Nottingham, Rutland in the Midlands and North Kesteven in Lincolnshire.
The Isle of Wight is the sunniest place, enjoying 37.4 hours of sunshine a week. against a national average of 29.7 hours.
Despite a no-show in the top 50 ranking, the North, Scotland and Wales fared well in terms of housing affordability.
Pendle in Lancashire had the lowest house price-to-earnings ratio at 3.5, followed by North Ayrshire in Scotland and Blaenau Gwent in Wales at 3.6.
Here are the top 10 local authority districts in the UK in the 2011 Halifax Quality of Life Rankings:
1. Hart, South East
2. Elmbridge, South East
3. Wokingham, South East
4. East Cambridgeshire, East of England
5. Brentwood, East of England
6. Wychavon, West Midlands
7. St Albans, East of England
8. Maidstone, South East
9. South Cambridgeshire, East of England
10. Epsom and Ewell, South East