Tucked away between Worcester and Stratford-upon-Avon, people living in Wychavon apparently enjoy among the best quality of life in rural Britain.

The Worcestershire district with a population of just over 112,000 comes top in the West Midlands according to a study that looked at life expectancy, average incomes, level of educational performance and health.

It came 32 nationally in the list of the top 50 best countryside places to live under the Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

Wychavon is described as an area typified by "highly qualified professionals" who live in large detached homes, invest in shares, enjoy two holidays a year and play golf. Average house prices in the area were £244,667 as of December last year, £60,000 higher than the average for the West Midlands region.

Wychavon is one of three places in the region to make it into the top 50 list - the other two being Herefordshire (45) and Bridgnorth (46).

The South-east unsurprisingly dominates the lead positions in the standard of living chart, with Chiltern in Buckinghamshire coming top overall.

According to the study it has the highest life expectancy rate of 80 for newborns and enjoy the best average salaries at £45,000. Eight out of ten people in Chiltern own their home and the average number of rooms in their houses is 6.3.

Nearly 70 per cent of teenagers get five or more good GCSEs and the area even enjoys slightly more sunshine per week than other rural local authorities at 28.6 hours.

People living in Waverley in Surrey were found to have the second highest quality of life in a rural area, followed by those in Tandridge, also in Surrey.

Seven of the top ten places in the Halifax study are in the South-east with South Cambridgeshire, Rutland and Uttlesford in Essex, the only areas outside of the region. Thirty-two of the top 50 regions are in southern England.

The East Midlands far out-performed the West Midlands, having nine areas in the top 50. Rutland was the region's most highly placed rural area, ranked sixth overall.

Congleton in Cheshire was the top rural local authority in northern England, coming 30th, with a high employment rate and a high level of people owning their own home.

Aberdeenshire is the rural local authority that offers the highest quality of life in Scotland, boasting low traffic and crime levels and high employment, while Monmouthshire topped the poll for Wales coming 54th overall.

Gordon Edwards, managing director of Halifax Estate Agents, said: "People living in Chiltern have the best quality of life of any rural area in Great Britain. They tend to be healthy, live in larger than average houses and have relatively high earnings. Chiltern also has good school results and the weather is better than average.

"However, living in Chiltern comes at a price with house prices £211,083 above the average for the South-east."

The study also found house prices in 32 of the areas were on average 25 per cent or £52,974 more than the average cost of a home in their region.

In Chiltern, for example, the average property costs £503,226 - 72 per cent or £200,000 more than the typical home in the South-east.