Population of rural Scotland increasing faster than rest of country

The population of rural Scotland is increasing faster than the rest of the country and a higher proportion of residents rate their neighbourhood as a “very good” place to live, official statistics show.

The population growth is attributed to a higher rate of inward migration in a new document comparing lifestyle, the economy and other aspects of living in rural areas with the rest of Scotland.

Around 17 per cent of the population lives in rural Scotland, defined as settlements with less than 3,000 people.

Last year saw the population of remote rural areas rise 0.2 per cent and 0.9 per cent in more accessible rural areas.

The figure for the rest of Scotland was 0.3 per cent.

According to Rural Scotland Key Facts, fewer residents experience problems such as crime, litter and graffiti compared with those living in more populated areas.

Life expectancy is longer and more people volunteer in their community.

More residents of rural areas are in work, with employment rates higher than in the rest of Scotland. More residents are self-employed and homeworking is more prevalent.

However more people in rural areas are outwith a reasonable drive time to key services such as GPs and shops, and fewer people are satisfied with the quality of public transport.

Residents spend more a month on fuel for cars, with around half reporting to spend more than £100 in 2017, compared with 38 per cent in the rest of Scotland.

The proportion of households in remote rural areas which are classed as extreme fuel poor (those which spend more than 20 per cent of income on household fuel) is around four times the proportion in the rest of Scotland.

Rural areas also have an ageing population and fewer children who walk or cycle to school.

The average property is more expensive and a higher prevalence of second home ownership, particularly in more accessible rural areas, is having an effect on residents’ abilities to access housing, the report says.

A rural area is deemed accessible if it is within a 30-minute drive to a settlement with a population of 10,000 or more.