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Scottish islands voted best place to live

Spectacular landscapes, low crime and good schools make Orkney the best place to live in the country, according to those who live there.

The islands, nestling 10 miles from John O’Groats off the northern tip of Scotland, have finally taken the top spot in the annual Halifax Quality of Life Survey after coming runners up for the past two years.

Residents say five reasons make the islands a great place to live:

  • 97% of residents report they feel fit and well
  • Average house prices of £173,349 make buying property affordable
  • Orkney has an 88% employment rate with average earnings of £671 a week
  • Crime rates are among the lowest in the country at 5.9 per 10,000 population, compared to a national average of 44.1
  • Primary schools have smaller classes, while secondary schools achieve excellent exam results (75% - SCQF Achieving 5+ at Level 4 or better)

Orkney is a group of 70 islands covering 52 square miles with a population of 22,100. The largest settlement on the islands is Kirkwall, with a population of 9,300.

Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax, said: “Orkney has consistently been considered one of the best places to live in the UK and Orcadians will be delighted to hear they have now taken the crown. Its remote location may not be for everyone, but this comes with the benefit of having high employment, low crime rates, smaller class sizes and more affordable housing.

“While the South East continues to have the most locations in the top 50, we’ve seen Northern areas perform particularly well on education while they also benefit from lower house prices when compared to average earnings.”


Richmond, Yorkshire, was runner-up, followed by Rutland, East Midlands and Hambleton, Yorkshire.