When factors affecting standard of living like average income, house prices and rental costs, household living expenses and even life expectancy are taken into account, there is a lot of difference between different cities and regions.
In order to establish which the best places to live in the UK in 2015 are, uSwitch's Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index has compared data across a range of factors for each of the UK's NUTS 1 statistical regions and ranked them.
While many people might have expected the South East of England to feature fairly heavily in the top 10 best places to live in the UK due to the perception that the area around London has more jobs, higher incomes, better services and wealthier households, in actual fact only Berkshire made the top 10 from this area, coming in at 6th.
Here are some of the reasons why Berkshire scores highly on the 2015 comparisons:
Employment rates in Berkshire are among the highest in the UK, with 77% of the people who live here in work.
Of course, with Berkshire including major commuter towns like Bracknell, it is likely that a lot of the residents included in these statistics actually work in London rather than Berkshire itself.
45% of people work between 35-45 hours a week – considered normal full time hours, but a fairly high number work more than this – 28% of people are doing more than 45 hours a week. This is also fairly expected in a commuter area.
Berkshire residents have the highest incomes in our top 10 best places to live, at £616.58 per week. They also have a lot of disposable income per household at an average of £20,373.
House prices in Berkshire are high, with the average home costing £282,908.33. Berkshire does include some notoriously expensive and wealthy areas like Ascot and Windsor, however, and prices in these places do affect the mean average.
Average rent is also high at £80.39, though this is not bad when proximity to London is taken into account.
Life expectancy is an influential factor that insurance companies use to determine life insurance premiums. You can check our advice guide on how to get a cheaper life insurance policy.
Where Berkshire has by far the highest income in our top 10, it also has the highest living expenses, with the average weekly food bill coming to £63.20 per household, dual fuel at £1,224.20, and insurance premiums also comparatively high at £556.40 for a car and £260 for your home insurance. This is of course balanced out by the high earnings and employment.
Even though, the insurance premiums are high, there are certain steps you can take to find the best car insurance deals for you. Take a look at our dedicated guide to learn more.
Other Important Factors
As you might expect being the closest to London in our top 10, Berkshire is well equipped for modern life, with mobile phone signal available in 98% of the area, and fairly good average broadband speeds of 26.6Mbps.
See how your broadband speeds stack up against your neighbours by trying out our broadband speed test.
Berkshire is one of the best places to live in the UK, especially for working age people who want somewhere with good job prospects and high earning potential.
More to life than rankings
At uSwitch, we know that there is more to life than rankings, stats and figures, and our Qualify of Life Index merely highlights the vast differences in the experiences of people across the UK.
Whether you're living in the best city or the worst, millions of households in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland face financial struggles including rising energy bills and credit card debt. That's why it's more important than ever for households to assess their budgets, and uSwitch.com offers a great way to start.
Below you can find ways to save on everything from car insurance to mobile bills.
Place to Live 2015 — Where did your region rank?
About the research
The uSwitch.com study assessed 138 local areas (NUTS3 regions) for 26 factors such as salaries, disposable household income, and the cost of essential goods including food bills, fuel costs and energy bills. The study also factored in lifestyle issues like hours of sunshine, working hours and life expectancy to ensure a full picture of the quality of life in each NUTS3 region.
For more about the study's methodology, read the full press release .