Finding a home

Best places to live in the UK

6 min read

Where to live is a major decision when you’re buying a home. We look at the factors to consider when you’re choosing a location and the best places to live in 2024.

  • Cathy Hudson journalist and copywriter
    Cathy Hudson

    Journalist and copywriter

    Published March 11th 2024

houses in East Sussex which was voted one of the best places to live

Where you live has a major impact on your life so it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. You may already have a list of criteria for the location of your new home – you might want to be close to work or family, live in a city or countryside setting, or be near good schools. But within these parameters you’ll have a range of options to choose from.

While the best place for you depends on your individual needs and preferences, there’s plenty of information available to help you decide. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ll help you find the one that works best for you so you can enjoy many happy years in your new home.

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Best places to live in England and elsewhere

Every year the Sunday Times publishes its Best Places to Live guide. The factors it considers include schools, transport, culture, broadband speeds, access to green spaces and the health of high streets.

The top three for 2023 were Wadhurst in East Sussex, which was the smallest place to win overall in the 11 years the guide has been published with a population of less than 5,000, Chichester in West Sussex and Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

The best place to live in Northern Ireland was Donaghadee, County Down, while in Scotland it was Dunkeld, Perthshire, and in Wales it was Ruthin, Denbighshire.

Garrington Property Finders, which was originally set up by TV property expert Phil Spencer, also publishes a list of the best places to live in England and Wales, as well as in Scotland, each year. It looks at five criteria when making its selections – natural beauty and flood risk, wellbeing, heritage, schools and employment, and value for money (four excluding heritage for Scotland).

Its top three for 2024 are Twyford in Berkshire, St Albans in Hertfordshire and Epsom in Surrey. In its separate Scotland report, Kirkintillock in East Dunbartonshire came top with its easy commute to central Glasgow and beautiful countryside. The twin towns of Blairgowrie and Rattray in Perthshire came second, while Crieff – also in Perthshire – came third.

Cheapest places to live in the UK

According to the Nationwide house price index, the North is the cheapest region of the UK to buy a home in, with an average price of £155,577 in the last quarter of 2023. This is followed by Scotland (£179,208) and Northern Ireland (£184,593).

Northern Ireland saw the biggest increase in house prices over the year – they went up by 4.5% on average – while in East Anglia, East of England, they fell by 5.2%. Areas where prices have dropped are worth considering as they offer better value for money compared to areas where prices have risen and you could benefit once they go up again.

When it comes to cities, property market data provider Hometrack’s house price index reveals which are the cheapest cities to live in. In January 2024, Aberdeen had the lowest average price at £137,100, followed by Glasgow (£142,800) and Newcastle (£149,200).

Where are the most expensive places to live?

Unsurprisingly, London is the most expensive region according to Nationwide, where the average house price is a hefty £515,132. This is almost double the average price for the UK as a whole.

Halifax recently uncovered which are the UK’s most expensive streets. Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, London, was the priciest, where the average property costs an eye-watering £20.4 million.

Outside of the capital, Benar Headland in Pwllheli is the most expensive street in Wales, with the average home setting you back a mere £1.3 million. At the top end of the scale, a property purchase in East Road in Weybridge – the most expensive street in the South East – would set you back £9 million.

Safest places to live in the UK

HomeViews collects reviews of new homes in the UK and publishes a range of research on the best places to live in the UK, including the safest. By analysing crime data from 2022 to 2023 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland it has found the areas with the lowest crime rates.

In England and Wales, Wiltshire was the safest place, with 56.9 crimes per 1,000 people, followed by Devon and Cornwall, which had 57. Due to differences in crime data, HomeViews looked at Northern Ireland and Scotland separately. The safest place in Northern Ireland was Ards and North Down, where there were 40.5 crimes per 1,000 people, while in Scotland it was East Dunbartonshire with 25.4.

Best places to live in London

According to the Sunday Times, Crouch End in north London was the best place to live in the capital. Beckenham, Earlsfield, Hackney borders, King’s Cross, Notting Hill and Woolwich were the other areas of London it highlighted as top locations.

Homes in these places don’t come cheap though. The average house price ranged from £1,182,000 in Notting Hill to £408,400 in Woolwich according to Halifax data when the research was carried out in early 2023.

Best cities to live in the UK

Garrington included two cities in its top-20 places to live in England and Wales including second-placed St Albans, where a family home cost an average of a pricey £972,494 over the year to September 2023 according to the Land Registry. It’s close to London so great for commuters and it has a wealth of good schools and historic buildings.

Bath in Somerset was in 14th place with its abundance of natural beauty and the highest score in Garrington’s schools and employment category among the top 20. Here, a family home would have set you back an average of £744,845 over the same period.

Bristol, Chichester, Leeds and Norwich all featured on the Sunday Times list, as well as specific areas of Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Sheffield.

Whether you want a city or countryside location, or something in between, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great places to live in the UK. Consider your priorities to find the one that’s perfect for you.

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