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Isles cede top spot

SHETLAND has slipped from the top spot in Scotland for the best quality of life in a rural area, according to the latest Bank of Scotland survey.

The islands were judged to be the second best place to live after Aberdeenshire, which was top in 2010, however they have the highest employment levels and the best exam results in rural Scotland.

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The two counties have been jostling for the pole position for the past seven years, Shetland holding it three times to Aberdeenshire’s four.

The survey looks at 17 factors including health, environment, life expectancy, employment, income, school qualifications, population density, crime, house prices, broadband access and weather.

Shetland had the highest levels of employment at 81.3 per cent, and a £631 average weekly wage, behind Aberdeenshire’s £661.

There are just 15 people per square kilometre, 90 per cent of islanders report good or fairly good health and live an average of 77.2 years.

Average primary class sizes at 17.5 are below the Scottish average of 20.4, and very good exam results with 88.4 per cent achieving five or more SCQF level four awards, the best in Scotland.

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Orkney came third in the survey, with the lowest crime rates of one burglary per 10,000 people.

The biggest homes are found in the Western Isles with an average of 4.9 habitable rooms.

Bank of Scotland Nitesh Patel said: “Recent surveys have shown the Shetland and Orkney Islands to have performed well in a number of factors, but this year they have been overtaken by Aberdeenshire.

“While Aberdeenshire might not necessarily be the top area in any one factor, its strength is that it performs strongly across nearly all indicators.

“The average resident has a high income compared to other rural areas and benefits from bigger homes with central heating.

“On top of this, health and life expectancy are above average, crime is low and there are extremely low traffic volumes.

“It is the combination of factors taken together which ensure that residents in Aberdeenshire enjoy the highest standard of living in rural Scotland.”

The information was compiled from the Office of National Statistics.

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