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But the winner of the past five years, Hart, also in Hampshire, has dropped to 26th place.

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    Winchester in Hampshire has won the top spot as the best place to live in the UK.

    The local authority district includes the city of Winchester, home to one of the largest cathedrals in England.

    But the winner of the past five years, Hart, also in Hampshire, has dropped to 26th place in Halifax's ranking of the top 50 most desirable local authority districts in which to live.

    Nearly two-thirds of the top 50 areas are in southern England, including:

    The remaining 18 are in the East Midlands and West Midlands (both 5), Yorkshire and the Humber (4), Scotland (2), Wales and the north west (1).

    Why is it happening?

    Long life expectancy as well as good health, employment, earnings and general well-being have all pushed Winchester to the top of the ranking this year.

    A generous number of pubs, health clubs and leisure centres, plus low crime rates, have also helped to cement the area’s prime slot.

    Hart, however, has taken a tumble in the ranking after two new categories - number of pubs and the availability of health and leisure facilities - as well as some methodological changes were introduced to the survey this year.  The district has also dropped its score on average earnings and employment rate compared with other local authorities. 

    Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, said: “With more and more emphasis being placed on achieving a good work-life balance, the ranking includes a leisure category for the first time. This has had an impact, especially at the top.”

    Home for sale in Winchester.

    Above: five-bedroom house for sale in Shawford near Winchester.

    Who does it affect?

    The cachet and all-round benefits of living in Winchester will be a major boost for homeowners and a draw for aspiring buyers.

    But the city's appeal may make it difficult for buyers trying to get on to the property ladder in the district.

    Sounds interesting. What's the background?

    ‘Wintonians’ have several reasons to be happy:  

    • Good health: 96.6% of locals are in good or fairly good health, beating the national average of 84.6%.
    • Low crime rate: the area has a burglary rate of 11.5 per 10,000 people, compared with 28.7 for the rest of the UK. That’s among the lowest in the country.
    • High employment rate: 83.1% of locals have jobs – significantly higher than the 73.7% national average. And gross weekly earnings of £824 are 27% above the UK average.
    • Above-average number of pubs, leisure and health facilities: there are 12 pubs and two health and leisure amenities per 10,000 people.

    Here are the top 10 places to live in the UK 2016:

     Rank

    Local authority

    Region

     1 Winchester  south east 
     2  Orkney Islands  Scotland 
     3  Wychavon  West Midlands 
     4  Derbyshire Dales  East Midlands 
     5  Hambleton  Yorkshire & The Humber 
     6  South Cambridgeshire  east  
     7  Purbeck  south west 
     8  St Albans  east 
     9  Wokingham  south east 
    10  Chiltern  south east 

    Top 3 takeaways

    • Winchester in Hampshire has won the top spot as the best place to live in the UK.
    • Nearly two-thirds of the top 50 most desirable places to live are in southern England.
    • The remaining 18 areas are in the East Midlands and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the HumberScotlandWales and the north west.

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