NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Shetland tops 'Bank of Scotland Quality of Life' list

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

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.

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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