FOR those who have taken up residence Winchester, it will be no secret that it is a lovely place to live.

Now it has been recognised as one of the best places to live in the UK, according to the Sunday Times annual list published today.

The Sunday Times’ expert judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit - which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.  

Speaking of Winchester, the judges said: “Historic and hospitable, the former capital of England is one of our favourite places to raise a family thanks to its 12 outstanding schools and excellent train connections.

“They were also impressed by the improving, exotic food scene in the former English capital, from the Michelin-starred Black Rat* to the modern British food in the 600-year-old Chesil Rectory, the city’s three Japanese restaurants, and the Nepalese cuisine at The Gurkha’s Inn.”

The list also details the average house price in Winchester, which this year stands at £650,000, and the average rental price is £1,300 per month.

The winner of the best place to live in the south east is Surrey Hills, with the Isle of Wight also on the list.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings. With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.  

“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.  

“With miles of ancient woodlands, panoramic views and timeless, picture-perfect villages such as Tilford, Shere and Abinger Hammer, life in the Surrey Hills is a gloriously romantic rural idyll - and it’s all within commuting distance of London.” 

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*Since the judges' verdict the Black Rat has lost its Michelin Star