People love living in the West Country, according to new survey
People in rural areas of the Westcountry are almost twice as likely to cherish where they live than city dwellers, according to new research.
The study by insurer NFU Mutual found that more than a third (36 per cent) of people living in the countryside "loved" their local area. No-one said they disliked it – the only such result in the country.
By comparison, only 19 per cent of those living in urban areas of the Westcountry said they "loved" their neighbourhood, while 10 per cent said they hated it.
The Westcountry came out top of the national poll – the latest findings from NFU Mutual's Countryside Living Index – followed by Yorkshire and the North East.
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One family who heartily agree "West is best" are the Cridlands – Harry, Judy and son Toby – who swapped South Yorkshire for rural South East Cornwall four years ago, bringing their rocking horse business with them.
Mr Cridland said they didn't miss the traffic or the northern weather and loved the tranquility of their home a few minutes from the coast.
He added: "I knew we could do good business down here and when you are in a relaxed state of mind, rather than sitting in traffic for three hours a day, you tend to do better business.
"We still work hard but I think you tend to work more efficiently when you know you can go for a walk on the beach in the sunshine."
Across the country, most of the 1,300 rural dwellers questioned were satisfied with the cost of living, health, education and the environment.
A survey of 500 city residents found the highest satisfaction levels were in the South East, Northern Ireland, Wales and the East Midlands.
Richard Percy, Chairman of NFU Mutual, said: "It's great to see people living in the countryside enjoy it so much they're prepared to declare their 'love' for it.
"Busy cities may have an abundance of amenities and vibrant high streets to offer, but this is clearly no match for the fresh air, outdoor pursuits and community spirit cherished by those who live in the countryside.
"Crime is the main bone of contention for country folk. We're working with our members to make it much more difficult for criminals to succeed in the countryside, helping to reduce this blot on an otherwise idyllic way of life."
The findings came in the regular quarterly study into attitudes towards rural and urban life conducted by NFU Mutual. It said the preference for country living was unlikely to be reversed, with the last three months seeing an overall 2.1 per cent rise in how satisfied people were with the quality of life in rural areas, compared to a 1.1 per cent rise in satisfaction levels in urban areas.
Quality of life was measured across six key areas – cost of living, health, economic conditions, education, the environment and crime.
During the survey period, April to June of this year, satisfaction with the quality of life in rural areas rose across five out of the six areas.
Satisfaction with the cost of living rose 8.9 per cent, albeit to a rating of only 5.75 out of ten.
Data from the Office of National Statistics, released by NFU Mutual in June, revealed the cost of living in rural areas had increased at twice the rate of urban areas over the previous 12 months.
NFU Mutual said the key to the change in perception was a significant shift in positive responses on the cost of fuel (up 9.7 per cent) and the cost of running a car (up 10.5 per cent) which coincided with a period of falling fuel prices.
The study of a "basket" of 21 items regularly consumed by those living in the countryside revealed year-on-year "rural inflation" averaged 7.7 per cent – compared to the national average of 4.3 per cent.
The only exception in the latest study was with crime, with a 1.6 per cent fall in confidence about levels of crime.
The responses supported findings of NFU Mutual's rural crime survey last month, which revealed theft rose 6% in 2011 to an estimated £52 million.