Country houses for sale

Revealed: The best places to live in Great Britain for work-life balance

The Outer Hebrides lead the chart of the local authorities that offer the best work and life balance, according to new research. Carla Passino explains more.

With remote working set to remain popular even after coronavirus restrictions are finally lifted, property buyers are widening their horizons away from the well-trodden commuting grounds of Southern England in a bid to improve their quality of live. And when it comes to work and life balance, they’d better set their compass north-west, because the Outer Hebrides have been named the best place to live in the money.co.uk’s 2021 Work-life Balance Index.

The first thing we always wonder with these studies is where the data come from — and in this case, the source of the original info is none other than the Office of National Statistics. The analysis uses ONS figures which score local authorities against a range of indicators including happiness, anxiety, access to green space and life satisfaction.

Clearly, there are other indicators that you could use — and we can’t help but feel that the final list emphasises life more than work, despite the original phrase suggesting a best-of-both-worlds. That said, the results make for fascinating reading, with the Outer Hebrides firmly at the top, with an overall score of 94.5 (out of 100), ahead of West Devon (92.2) and North East Derbyshire (91.5).

The Outer Hebrides rank especially highly for life satisfaction, employment (the unemployment rate is a little more than half the UK’s average), and year-on-year pay increase (a robust 9.8% against a UK average of 3%), as well as, of course, plenty of opportunities to enjoy Nature. No mention is made of the fact that your family is likely to live several hundred miles away; we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that’s one in the ‘for’ or ‘against’ column.

Second by a whisker, the rolling countryside and long beaches of West Devon are naturally conducive to happiness and serenity, but a manageable working week of 32.8 hours and good pay also contribute to the area’s appeal.

With a crop of picturesque villages and magnificent country houses, North East Derbyshire is especially rate for life satisfaction but also for the abundance of private outdoor space — a massive benefit in these locked down days.

Top five local authorities for work and life balance

  • Outer Hebrides
  • West Devon
  • North East Derbyshire
  • Ribble Valley
  • East Dunbartonshire

If you are planning to move, here are five properties to consider, one for each of the top five best-performing authorities.

Outer Hebrides, £25,000

A waterside plot to build your own dream home.
Waterside plot in the Outer Hebrides
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West Devon, £1.25 million

A perfect setting in the Tavy valley make this 19th-century stone farmhouse an ideal place to live.
House for sale in West Devon
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North East Derbyshire, £1.875 million

This Grade II-listed Georgian house comes with two cottages and beautiful grounds.
House for sale in North-East Derbyshire
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Ribble Valley, price on application

Italianate gardens, a swimming pool complex and a beautiful house are the perfect combination to boost quality of life.
House for sale in the Ribble Valley
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East Dunbartonshire, £495,000

A 19th-century sandstone villa with a lovely garden near Bearsden
Hosue for sale in East Dunbartonshire
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Buyers only looking for happiness should head to the Fylde, in Lancashire, which comes out top for that indicator, while those that would like less stress in their life could do with moving to Burnley, which has the lowest anxiety levels in the country.

For those that can’t quite range far afield from their place of work, however, the Index also reveals the best places for work and life balance in each English region, plus Scotland and Wales.

  • East Midlands – North East Derbyshire (91.5/100)
  • East of England – Babergh (83/100)
  • London – Richmond Upon Thames (69.3/100)
  • North East – Halton (70.2/100)
  • North West – Ribble Valley (88.9/100)
  • Scotland – Outer Hebrides (94.5/100)
  • South East – Arun (84.7/100)
  • South West- West Devon (92.2/100)
  • Wales – Flintshire (66.6/100)
  • West Midlands – Newcastle Under Lyme (85.8/100)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber- East Riding of Yorkshire (68.7/100)

And if you really can’t leave the commuting counties of the South-East — England’s most populous region — fear not. Together, South-East England and Scotland account for 40% of the top work and life balance spots.