Elmbridge - dubbed the Beverly Hills of Surrey - offers the highest quality of life in Britain, according to a survey.

Nearly all of the highest ranked places are in the South of England, and places in Scotland and Wales all rank low.

The highest ranked Scottish place is the Shetlands Islands, which rank a lowly 118 in the whole of Britain. So the top 117 places with the best quality of life are all in England. Wales does even worse than Scotland. The place with the highest quality of life in Wales is Monmouthshire, which ranks only 158th in the whole of Britain.

So if you ever want to move to Britain for a good quality of life, be sure to move to England and not Scotland or Wales.

'Beverly Hills of Surrey' has best quality of life in Britain
23:47pm 11th August 2006

Elmbridge, Surrey has the highest quality of life in the whole of Britain

Elmbridge - dubbed the Beverly Hills of Surrey - offers the highest quality of life in the country, according to a survey.

Bounded to the north by the Thames and Hampton Court Palace, to the east by Chessington World of Adventures and to the south by the M25, it is supposedly the best place to live in Britain.

Elmbridge - nicknamed the Beverly Hills of Surrey - tops a controversial index rating the quality of life.

It measures wealth, education, health and even traffic jams and sunshine.

Elmbridge is the invented name for the local authority area which covers the towns of Weybridge, Walton-on-Thames, Cobham, Oxshot and Esher. Nine other areas from the south and east form the rest of the top ten.

Only one area outside the area even makes the top 30. This is Rutland Council - centred on the market town of Oakham - in the East Midlands (Rutland is the smallest county in England. Oakham is its capital).

Wales does even more poorly. Its first entrant is rural Monmouthshire, covering Abergavenny, Monmouth and Chepstow, at 158.

Dominant factors in the survey by the Halifax appear to be conspicuous wealth and high house prices.

Enhancing Elmbridge's appeal is its close proximity to London - it is inside the M25 - coupled with a semi-rural feel.

Twenty years ago it would have been considered classic stockbroker belt, populated by the 'gin and Jaguar' set. However, it has seen an influx of brash new money bringing with it footballers' wives, bare midriffs, 4x4s and ostentatious new-build mansions.

The Shetland Islands, a group of islands off the north coast of Scotland, have the highest quality of life in Scotland. However, 117 places in England have a higher quality of life than the Shetland Islands.

The development of the Chelsea training ground near Cobham has brought in more than 20 millionaire players, including the new England captain John Terry, Joe Cole, and Arjen Robben.

The area is dominated by large and expensive properties, while the population is fabulously well-paid by national standards, earning an average of around 58,000.

House prices are the third highest in the country, behind Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, at an average of 457,461.

Famous residents have included the likes of Chris Tarrant, Colin Montgomerie, Robson Green, Jimmy Tarbuck and Michael Aspel. Cliff Richard has offices in Claygate.

The schools are good, levels of crime are low, while 95 per cent of the population of these Surrey towns, largely populated by those commuting into London, say they are in good health.

The area also scores well in terms of traffic and even the sun shines more often on this leafy corner of England. It enjoys two hours more sunshine a week than the British average.

One million families now have a holiday home, many in sunshine locations overseas, says the Halifax.

Government figures covering 2004 had put the total at around 600,000. But an estimate by the bank's estate agency suggests this has soared over the last two years and could now have topped one million.

The phenomenon has been fostered by TV programmes such as Channel 4's A Place in the Sun, in which fantastic properties are snapped up low prices by British standards.

Often, these have been run-down farm buildings, which DIY devotees have transformed into homes for themselves or paying guests.

Many of those buying homes on the Spanish costas in recent years have been retired Britons seeking winter sunshine. However, increasingly, other age groups are choosing to buy a second home as an investment alternative to pensions, shares and savings.

Extended families are clubbing together to buy a property so they can share the benefits of a permanent holiday base.

The trend is being encouraged by banks and building societies, who have set up property operations, including a mortgage service, for buyers looking on the Continent.

The Halifax survey specifically asked those questioned whether they had a holiday home. Some six per cent said they did, which equates to just over 1million of the 17.8million owner occupier households in the country.

Among holiday homeowners, 28 per cent have a property in the UK. Spain is the second most popular location, at 16 per cent.