Solihull is the best place to live in the UK, according to a new Quality of Life Index from uSwitch.
The study assessed 138 local areas for 24 different factors including salaries, disposable household income and the cost of essential goods, such as fuel, food and energy bills.
Lifestyle factors such as working hours, life expectancy and hours of sunshine, were also included to provide a complete picture of the quality of life in each region.
While Solihull comes out on top, the bottom of the index is dominated by Scottish regions.
East and North Ayrshire is ranked as the worst place to live in the UK, with low income, poor exam results and low life expectancy – as well as a distinct lack of sunshine.
Situated nine miles away from Birmingham, Solihull is considered one of the most prosperous towns in the Midlands and is home to Land Rover’s main production plant.
The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) also falls within the borough as does a large chunk of Birmingham airport.
The Silhillians, Solihull’s residents, have benefitted from the recent redevelopment of the town centre including a large new shopping centre.
According to the report, people in Solihull pay high house prices, high energy bills and hefty council tax bills.
However, these costs are outstripped by high average salaries of £27,435 a year and relatively high levels of disposable income of £17,359 a year.
Added to these are low mortality rates, high life expectancy – 81 for men and 84 for women – and above average broadband speeds of 17Mb, as well as cheaper car insurance premiums of around £528 per year.
The ‘worst’ place to live in the UK
By contrast, residents in both East and North Ayrshire, ranked the ‘worst’ places to live, have average salaries of £24,242 a year and disposable income of £14,430 a year – 17% less than the Silhillians.
Employment rates and life expectancy are also lower – 75 for men and 80 for women – and broadband speeds of just 8Mb, are twice as slow as Solihull’s.
Exam results are relatively poor and the regions experience less sunshine than the rest of the country.
UK Quality of Life Index 2013
Personal finance expert at uSwitch, Michael Ossei says the study shows that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to improve people’s financial situation.
“Despite the uplift in the economy, British households are facing huge financial pressure as the cost of living continues to climb while take home pay stays stagnant,” he said.
West London is Britain’s richest region by a long way with average salaries of £35,500 and an annual disposable household income of £32,800 – three times higher than disposable income in Nottingham (£10,834).
Surrey comes second for spending power, followed by Buckinghamshire and parts of outer London and Hertfordshire (see table below).
Cost of living
Meanwhile, when it comes to essential household bills, the uSwitch Quality of Life Index shows the difference paid by consumers based on where they live.
While people in Leicestershire spend the most on council tax, energy bills are highest in the East Midlands and petrol costs are highest in Northamptonshire.
Despite earning the most, West London is the most dangerous place to live, with the highest crime rates in the UK.
Northumberland, ranked the eighth overall in Quality of Life Index, has the lowest rate of reported crime in the country.