Each year we wait in anticipation of The Sunday Times Best Place to Live in Britain list. 2018 saw our home city, Bath top the list. And we weren’t the least bit surprised!
The 2019 edition continues to assess town and cities on a wide range of factors including jobs, schools, community spirit and shops.
In addition to the overall winner, there’s a best in class for each area of the UK.
Topping the 2019 list is Salisbury, it’s first ever time at the top. As a city, it has an excellent mix of history, shops, a busy market and outstanding school. It’s truly a fantastic place to raise a family.
Employment rate: 75.1%
Average house price: £292,544
Crime rate: 50.7 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 21/36 rated good or outstanding
Topping the list is Salisbury. While in the news much over the last few years in part due to the attempted poisoning of the Skripals, the city remains a fantastic place to live.
Making it ideal to raise a family, Salisbury is surrounded by breathtaking countryside, perfect for sports and family walks.
What makes Salisbury extraordinary is its history and architecture. It was the place where the Magna Carta was written. It’s iconic Cathedral rises high above these lush green fields.
Today, the city has a thriving market, a buzzing arts scene, museums and some of England’s finest historic houses. Coupled with this is excellent schooling, both private and public options.
Salisbury is also great for shopping. Its historic streets are home to all your favourite stores, as well as independent retailers, who offer unique items not often found on the high street.
Encompassing a range of dining option, Salisbury has a multitude of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as clubs and bars. Whatever cuisine or entertainment you desire, the city offers it!
Data Sources: Wiltshire Intelligence, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in the East
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Employment rate: 69.5%
Average house price: £323,612
Crime rate: 59.5 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 16/25 rated good or outstanding
Known as the ‘jewel in the crown of Suffolk’, Bury St Edmunds is the best place to raise a family in the southeast.
With over 1,000 years of history, the city has a lot to offer if you’re a history buff. The magnificent St Edmundsbury Cathedral is still in use, tops the list.
While now ruins, the 11th Century Abbey of St Edmund, was once one of the most important monasteries in medieval Europe. Located just a stone’s throw are a multitude of beautiful medieval wool towns.
Today’s Bury St Edmunds offers excellent schools, award-winning restaurants, fantastic shopping, annual festivals, and stunning parks.
There’s something for all the family, regardless of their age.
Data Sources: Suffolk Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in London
Isle of Dogs, London
Employment rate: 68.2%
Average house price: £525,493
Crime rate: 108.9 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 19/37 rated good or outstanding
Lying in the River Thames, the Isle of Dogs is London living done right on a budget. Well, affordable for zone 2!
Thanks to its position on the water, its ideal for watersports such as sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and Standup Paddleboarding. All, family and royal favourites!
The area is home to a diverse community. Many families having roots dating back to when it was a dock. And with the city just a stone’s throw away, many choose to live there due to its proximity to work.
While property prices may look eye-watering, for London, they are fairly reasonable. They compare with Ealing (zone 3), which is miles from central London.
As a village within a city, the Isle of Dogs has plenty of restaurants, bars, shopping and parks to keep a family entertained.
There is also a helipad situated on the west of the Island and next to Ferguson’s Wharf!
Data Sources: Tower Hamlets Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in the Midlands
Employment rate: 79%
Average house price: £695,000
Crime rate: 43.8 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 2/3 rated good or outstanding
At first glance, Edale may not appear as the best place to raise a family. However, this tiny village provides an antidote to modern always connected living.
Imagine raising your kids in one of the most scenic parts of the country. There’s plenty of walking trails, cycle paths and with some imagination, hours of family fun.
The village has two popular pubs, a cafe and a local shop. While short on facilities, Edale is big on community spirit.
Surprising the village has excellent transport links as it lies on one of England’s most spectacular railway routes: the Manchester to Sheffield train line.
If you yearn for your kids to have a similarly outdoorsy childhood in Derbyshire, then Edale would be ideal.
Data Sources: Derbyshire County Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in the North and Northeast
York, North Yorkshire
Employment rate: 81.2%
Average house price: £275,909
Crime rate: 62.6 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 40/65 rated good or outstanding
Ideally located half-way between London and Edinburgh, the ancient walled city of York has much to offer.
With its Roman roots and Viking past, today’s York is a modern, vibrant city. Packed full of exciting independent shops, impressive eateries and 30 world-class museums, the city provides all you need for modern living.
As one of the cultural hubs of the north, there’s at least one festival each month as well as many opportunities to experience music and art.
If that doesn’t make it a superb place to raise a family, then consider the local countryside. On York’s doorstep is glorious Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Wolds. Plus there are opportunities for every sport imaginable.
Data Sources: City of York Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in Northern Ireland
Holywood, Co Down
Employment rate: 67.3%
Average house price: £320,180
Crime rate: 41.9 per 1,000 residents
Schools: ?/8 – no data available
With Belfast just a few miles away, Holywood is bursting with independent shops, some of the best schools, and an annual blues and jazz festival.
Holywood is famous for its maypole at the crossroads in the centre of town. Nearly as famous, is the adjacent Maypole Bar. Both cultural landmarks are the hub of this close-knit community.
As you walk along the brightly painted streets, the unique mix of shops, bars and restaurants excite the senses while providing everything you need for modern life.
With a beach on the doorstep and Belfast just a short train ride away, there’s plenty to keep you and the family busy.
Noted for sports, the town offers a sizeable range. There’s sailing, cycling and jogging, rugby, football and the golf club where Rory McIlroy started his career.
If you fancy raising your family in a quiet seaside town that’s near the big smoke and excitement of Belfast, then Holywood deserves closer inspection.
Data Sources: Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency , Northern Ireland Assembly, Zoopla House Prices, ONS/Police UK crime data, ETI (Education and Training Inspectorate)
Best in the Northwest
Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
Employment rate: 63.3%
Average house price: £300,889
Crime rate: 47.6 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 3/6 rated good or outstanding
Featuring one of the loveliest views in England, Kirkby Lonsdale sits surrounded by the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District.
Impressive by design, Romans Saxons, Normans and Danes all left their mark on the village. Many of these ancient buildings now house inns, restaurants and shops.
Throughout the year, local residents enjoy a number of music festivals and traditional events. There are even a weekly market and Victorian fair each September!
Queen Elizabeth School, the town’s only secondary school specialises in the performing arts, sports and languages. Making it ideal for those with growing families.
With a multitude of walks and cycle paths within the local area, Kirkby Lonsdale offers much if you enjoy your free time outdoors. Plus as many paths cross through hamlets, there’s plenty of watering holes along the way!
Data Sources: South Lakeland District Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in Scotland
Employment rate: 64.4%
Average house price: £150,251
Crime rate: 60.2 per 1,000 residents
Schools: ?/86 – no data available
Synonymous with jam, Dundee is the original home of ‘Marmalade’!
As Scotland’s 4th largest city, it’s a superb place for growing families. The city has, in recent years seen its profile grow, thanks to positive mentions in GQ and the Wall Street Journal.
With its relativity small size, affordable properties and excellent leisure pursuits, Dundee is a fantastic place to work and live. Also with the largest student population of any city in Scotland, it’s constantly reinventing itself.
But that’s not it! What makes Dundee cool is its recent transformation from industrial powerhouse to cultural capital. The soon to be open V&A Museum is the brand’s first foray out of London and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors each year.
Should you aim to raise your family in a progressive, inclusive city, head to Dundee, it has it all.
Data Sources: Dundee City Council, Rightmove sold data, Scottish Government, Education Scotland
Best in the Southeast
Petworth, West Sussex
Employment rate: 69.4%
Average house price: £556,499
Crime rate: 57.6 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 1/2 rated good or outstanding
Set in the heart of the South Downs national park, Petworth has to be the best place to raise a family in Sussex!
The picturesque market town is a centre for arts and culture, shopping and dining. It’s only an hour to London, making ideal for commuters. A 30-minute drive in the opposite is the south coast, perfect for long summer days.
While it may lack a choice of schooling, the wider area is home to some of the country’s finest, with options for all ages.
In terms of property prices, they are on the expensive side when compared to others on the list. However, there is a vibrant range of properties from idyllic cottages, new build semis and large equestrian estates.
Data Sources: West Sussex County Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in the Southwest
Employment rate: 78.2%
Average house price: £471,252
Crime rate: 82.3 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 12/15 rated good or outstanding
When you imagine south Devon, it’s likely you picture a small harbour, charming cottages and twisting streets. Topsham is all this and more!
Historically known for shipbuilding, the town still retains a strong maritime feel, complete with ancient yet still used dock.
Underneath the quint exterior is a cosmopolitan vibe with an eclectic shopping, fine restaurants and a myriad of cultural opportunities.
While you’d be incorrect to think of Topsham as an extension of Exter, the town does provide excellent links to the city, making ideal for commuters.
As to be expected with south Devon, properties are not affordable. However, who wouldn’t ignore the prices, when compared to the lifestyle it would provide you and your family.
Data Sources: Office for National Statistics (ONS), Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Compare School Performance GOV UK
Best in Wales
Employment rate: 64.4%
Average house price: £302,556
Crime rate: 45.7 per 1,000 residents
Schools: 2/2 rated good or outstanding
Nestling in the Usk Valley, Crickhowell has Briain’s best high street, historic charm and plenty of sporting opportunities.
The friendly locals have fostered a unique community spirit, often on display as you stroll through the high street. Unlike most, the town centre features a unique selection of mainly independent store.
The main local pubs have more of a living room atmosphere, rather than a soullessness of highly polished gastro-pub. You’ll enjoy relaxing with a pint while catching up on the local gossip.
Surrounded by countryside, the town is the start of many walks and has become so popular that each year locals host a Crickhowell Walking Festival. If walking isn’t for you, the town offers plenty of other sports.
If you’re looking for a safe community with a slower pace of life to raise a family, Crickhowell should be on your list.
Data Sources: Powys County Council, Rightmove sold data, ONS/Police UK crime data, Estyn GOV Wales
The best place to raise a family
With such a wide choice, when it comes to choosing the best place to raise a family, it’s a tough decision.
Our favourites are York, Dundee and Crickhowell. All are unique, exciting and are great places to live.
If you have cash to splash and older kids, then choose Topsham for the sea and its distance to Exeter.
Petworth is also another excellent choice and has a country setting that’s close to London yet offers a slower pace of life.
Where do you think is the best place to raise a family?