- High disposable income, high life expectancy and fast broadband speeds place Solihull at the top of the new uSwitch.com Quality of Life Index
- Scottish regions dominate the bottom of the index with East and North Ayrshire officially the worst places to live – let down by low income, poor exam results and fewer hours of sunshine
- Richest region: West Londoners enjoy the highest levels of disposable income – three times higher than Nottingham, the poorest region
- Costliest region: Council tax is highest in Leicestershire while energy prices are highest in Nottinghamshire and petrol highest in Northamptonshire
- Most dangerous region: despite earning the most, West London has the highest crime rates while Northumberland has the lowest.
Solihull is officially the best place to live in the UK, while East and North Ayrshire in Scotland are the worst, according to a new Quality of Life index from uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service. High disposable income, longer life expectancy and fast broadband speeds have all contributed to Solihull’s position at the top.
The uSwitch.com 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, as well as lifestyle factors such as working hours, life expectancy and hours of sunshine, to provide a complete picture of the quality of life in each region.
The findings show that, 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 (in Solihull men live until they are 81 and women 84) and above average broadband speeds of 17Mb. Even car insurance premiums are cheaper in Solihull, at just £528 per year.
By contrast, residents in both East and North Ayrshire, ranked the ‘worst’ places to live, cope with average salaries of £24,242 a year and disposable income of £14,430 a year – 17% less than the Silhillians. Their life expectancy is lower (with men living until 75 and women living until 80), there is a lower employment rate and broadband speeds of just 8Mb, twice as slow as Solihull. Exam results are relatively poor and the regions experience less sunshine than the rest of the country.
Income – 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.
Living costs – when it comes to essential household bills, the uSwitch.com Quality of Life Index shows the difference paid by consumers for their essential costs depending 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 highest in Northamptonshire.
Crime – 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.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “This is hard evidence of the different challenges faced by people depending on where they live. 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.
“It’s clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to fixing the problems in our country, but there’s a lot that consumers can do to help themselves. By taking a hard look at our household budgets and cutting the cost of essential bills, we can influence our standard of living and improve our overall quality of life.”