Aberdeenshire has the best rural quality of life in Scotland for the fourth time since 2006.
The area has claimed the top spot in the latest Bank of Scotland Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey, regaining the position it last held in 2010.
People living in Aberdeenshire tend to be fit and well, with 93% reporting themselves to be in good or fairly good health and they have a higher than average life expectancy of 78.2 years. The employment rate is 79%, with weekly average earnings of £661.
The level of school qualifications is also above the national average, with 82.6% of pupils achieving five or more Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 4 awards compared to the average for Scotland of 82.3%.
In addition, Aberdeenshire has one of the lowest population densities in Great Britain, with just 39 people per square kilometre. On average, residents in Aberdeenshire receive 25.5 hours of sunshine per week compared to an average of 24.2 across Scotland as a whole and only 999mm of rain per year compared to an average of 1339mm across the country.
Aberdeenshire Provost, Jill Webster, said: “The results of this poll only serve to underline what I’ve been sure of for many years – that the area offers our residents the best quality of life in Scotland.
“From high life expectancy, high employment and high earnings to above average school results and levels of sunshine, Aberdeenshire really does represent the very best of Scotland, from mountain to sea.”
Nitesh Patel, Bank of Scotland economist, said: “Aberdeenshire has performed consistently strongly across a wide range of indicators for a number of years, and the latest survey found residents here now have the best quality of life in rural Scotland.
“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.”