Aberdeenshire scores well on quality of life but house prices are higher
Aberdeenshire boasts the best quality of life among rural areas in Scotland, according to a survey.
The Bank of Scotland study found the area had above-average life expectancy, high rates of home ownership and well-performing schools.
The north east also enjoys high employment rates and the top average earnings - £621 per week.
East Lothian and the Scottish Borders were runners-up in the rankings of 10 rural local authorities.
The Rural Quality of Life Survey used official statistics and Bank of Scotland house price data to compare rural living standards throughout Britain.
In Aberdeenshire, 93.3% of residents rated themselves as in good or fairly good health.
Life expectancy at birth was 77 years, followed by Perth and Kinross and the Scottish Borders (76.5 years).
At school, 83% of S4 students in Aberdeenshire and Argyll and Bute gained five awards at level four or better, the highest in Britain when compared to similar exams in England and Wales.
But living in the north east also comes at a price, with average house prices £43,418 more than the Scottish average of £162,691.
Bank of Scotland economist, Martin Ellis, said: "Residents of Aberdeenshire have the best quality of life among rural areas in Scotland.
"They tend to be healthy, have a long life expectancy and live in an area with low crime levels.
"Aberdeenshire also has the highest gross earnings of any rural area in Scotland, a high employment rate and good school results."
The Western Isles also fared well in the survey with the lowest levels of traffic and housebreaking in Britain, and the smallest primary school classes.
East Lothian residents enjoy the best weather in Scotland - 25.6 hours of sunshine a week and 710mm of rain a year, the lowest north of the border.