Shetland tops 'Bank of Scotland Quality of Life' list

Lerwick harbour Residents of the Shetland Islands were found to have the best quality of life in Scotland

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Residents of Scotland's most northerly islands have the best quality of life, according to a new survey.

The Shetland Islands have ousted Aberdeenshire from top spot in the annual Bank of Scotland study.

Places are ranked based on health and life expectancy, employment and school performance.

Other areas in the top 10 were East Renfrewshire, Orkney, Aberdeen, East Lothian, East Dunbartonshire, Moray, the Borders and Perth and Kinross.

The employment rate in the Shetlands is the highest in Scotland, close to 84%, and many residents enjoy high incomes with weekly average earnings of £605, above the Scottish average of £575.

The survey said residents tended to be fit and well, with 93% reporting themselves to be in good or fairly good health, while the life expectancy was just over 77 years.

The level of school qualifications was above the national average and the islands have one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

Living there was also relatively affordable, with average house prices 4.2 times average gross annual local earnings - below the Scottish average of 4.7.

Top 10 areas

  • Shetland Islands
  • Aberdeenshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Orkney
  • Aberdeen
  • East Lothian
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • Moray
  • Scottish Borders
  • Perth and Kinross

Nitesh Patel, economist at the Bank of Scotland, said: "This year the Shetland Islands tops the Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey.

"The islands score highly relative to the average for Scotland on several indicators, such as health, life expectancy, employment, average earnings, school results and low crime rates.

"Even average house prices are relatively low in relation to earnings, highlighting that a high standard of living does not always come at a price."

However, one drawback to life in Shetland is that residents have on average three hours less sunshine per week compared to Scotland as a whole.

Shetland is closely followed in the overall survey by Aberdeenshire, which held the top position in last year's study.

Aberdeenshire scores with an employment rate of 81%, and weekly average earnings of £642.

Most sunshine

The best paid people are in East Renfrewshire, where average weekly earnings are £729 per week, followed by Stirling with £723 and East Dunbartonshire with £675.

The survey shows life expectancy is highest in East Dunbartonshire at 79.4 years.

On the property front, the lowest house price to earnings ratio is in North Ayrshire, while Edinburgh and the Highlands have the highest ratio.

Primary school class sizes are smallest in the Western Isles (14 pupils), followed by Shetland Islands and Orkney (both 17).

For people looking for good weather the east coast seems the best choice.

Dundee City has the lowest average annual rainfall (775 mm) while residents of Aberdeen City enjoy, on average, the most sunshine hours per week at 28.4 hours.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    What's wrong with Keppochhill, Glasgow?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Gotta give credit to BBC Scotland. They've really got their finger on the pulse and captured the main issue in Scotland to ALLOW us to comment on. Who cares about politics, independence, war, tax-avoiding bankers, or any of the silly little things that don't affect us, when we can speak freely about why Shetland is the best place to live in. According to the BofS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    hang now we have two places that are the best to live in......whats going on here? another bank survey.......what a complete waste of time and effort

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    The places that do well in these surveys are generally places that don't need much law enforcement, you can certainly improve peoples lives with heavy handed police enforcement to protect the rights of the honest majority but I'm not sure you can make everwhere as intinsically safe as Shetland like that. The problem is more fundamental than just law enforcement

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    @62.Daniel Edwards
    Most of these rural communities have similar drug and alcohol problems as most cities do

    In Lerwick I don't see or hear many reports of drug addicts begging or mugging people for money for a fix or drunken scum attacking people for the fun or raping women walking home at night. On the other I see or hear reports of all these things in relation to Glasgow on a daily basis

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Yes, we can improve life a little bit more where we live. The most obnoxious are in the minority, and it's only cowards/bullies that terrorise communties.

    ASBOs reduce crime stats, and fail us all. Including a vulnerable woman with her child who committed suicide, and a family man who was murdered when he challenged a group of idiots for attacking his wife's car. RIP.

    The majority demand order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    What a pretentious study, Low crime rates, How many people live up there anyway. I mean if no one lives in an area there's zero crime. No the pressure is down her in the south where something like 50% of the Scots live. besides #62 I agree totally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Offshore Oil. Small council & small population reaps the reward of a massive windfall from 1970's onward. Who cares what a banker's narrow perspective is on the good life? Low costs, a fat balance and longevity? Cultural venues and entertainment are minimal. Young people eager to get to the mainland. Weather so foul there's barely a tree. Remote: Many don't even consider themselves Scots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Daniel, as a teen from Shetland I can say that what you say is true but also massively untrue. We do have our problems like everywhere else however, while teens leave for university the majority come back here. Shetland must be unlike other rural areas in that most teens want to come back or not to leave. There is just as little to do in cities for teens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Probably produced by a collection of people who live in these places to enhance property values. We are far too trusting of the efficacy of statistical and criteria based assumptions when the criteria are more often than not limited and probably engineered in advance to give the desired answer. Like all such reports it might say something but probably misses just as much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    What a load of tripe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Yes it is a separate country and the article is posted on the Scotland part of the website so I'm not sure why you have a problem - it would never get onto the UK page of an English- focused organisation such as the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Okay, so these are the best places in Scotland, but how do they compare with the rest of the UK? I don't understand why only Scotland has been studied; it's not like it's a separate country!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.


  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    i live in middlesbrough,voted worst place to live on tv only a couple of years ago.with work i travelled all over the uk over the years including scotland. whilst its nice to take in the sights for the first couple of weeks i always got homesick for teeside. the best place to live in my opinion is where your family and your roots are.if you dont have that youll never be truly happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Ask any teen and they will disagree completely. Most of these rural communities have similar drug and alcohol problems as most cities do, transportation is flakey at best, things to do for teenagers is no better than anywhere else. As soon as teens hit school leaving age there is mass migration to the central belt rarely looking back. Sure it looks pretty but there's nothing to keep people here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Any opinion, including mine, is bound to be subjective.

    I lived on the borders of mid-Wales for a number of years and, having no need for employment, found the place to be a hitherto undiscovered paradise. The locals were kind and generous, the scenery was wonderful, and the peace and quiet were absolute bliss. The only drawback was the foxhunt, which trespassed often and upset our livestock

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Another great Scottish place to live. And the islands are well placed to blossom even further with a truly Scottish Government in power now. Thank god we Shetland folk do not have to kowtow to unrepresented 'British' politicians in London any more. We need only bring on devomax or Independence and Shetland will be Scotland's conduit to our other neighbours in Scandinavia!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I would have to agree with Schottin. It would seem all of these places are 'out of the way', and generally rural, with the exception of Aberdeen. Great in many respects, but a severe challenge in others. I would also add I spent 4 years in East Dumbartonshire and found it far from a desirable place to live, this, to me does not equate to a high quality of life.


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