Town and country divided on happiness

Nearly nine out of 10 people living in the countryside in Yorkshire say they like or love where they live – but residents of the region’s cities are increasingly unhappy, new research shows today.

One in five people living in Yorkshire’s urban areas said they dislike or hate where they live, the highest level of urban discontent in the country.

In contrast, some 88 per cent of people living in the region’s countryside said they are happy with where they live, the joint highest figure nationally alongside the South West.

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Country life is often viewed as an idyllic proposition by residents of urban areas but those living in rural areas often struggle with a lack of affordable housing, job opportunities and high fuel costs.

Data from the Office of National Statistics earlier this year showed that people living in rural areas have seen the cost of living increase at a rate estimated to be double that of urban areas over the previous 12 months.

However, the new research reveals people in rural areas think that life has actually started to become more affordable in recent weeks.

The findings, which are published today in the Countryside Living Index, produced by insurance firm NFU Mutual, show that nationally an estimated one in 10 people living in urban areas dislike where they live, more than three times the level found in rural communities.

Researchers found that people living in the countryside were satisfied with the quality of life in five out of six surveyed criteria compared with the previous three months, namely the cost of living, health, economy, education and the environment.

As well as Yorkshire, city dwellers in London and the east of England are especially dissatisfied.

In contrast, 31 per cent of people in rural areas profess to loving the area in which they live, while only 16 per cent of city dwellers feel the same – with the quality of the environment, local communities and healthy lifestyle the major plus factors for country living.

Urban living proved most popular in the South East, Northern Ireland, Wales and the East Midlands.

NFU Mutual chairman Richard Percy 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.”

Recent data published by the National Farmers Union showed that as many as one in three farmers in North Yorkshire had found themselves a victim of crime. Some farmers were even taking the extreme step of digging trenches around their land to prevent thieves stealing equipment, machinery and metal.

NFU Mutual’s rural crime study earlier in the summer showed that reported thefts from farmers increased by six per cent last year, costing the rural economy around £52m.

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