Best Places to Retire in the UK
After months and years of careful plotting, planning and dreaming, retirement can be thrilling and daunting in equal measures. A lot of people choose to make a clean break away from the drudgery of commuting and busy city centres to the UK’s picturesque coastal towns and rural landscapes for this new era of their lives. Here’s our list of the best places to retire in the UK.
Devon is popular with retirees who are drawn to the South West for its spectacular coastlines and mild climate. House prices in this county are similar to neighbouring Cornwall at around £242,000, but without the extra distance from family and friends it often makes Devon the more popular choice. Cost of living is not the cheapest (around £60 for a weekly grocery shop), but picturesque beaches in the north, beautiful Dartmoor in the middle, and the Jurassic Coast and English Riviera in the south, it’s a price worth paying.
You’ll never be far from a pub or cafe selling traditional Devonshire cream teas, or for those special occasions, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage restaurant is a must. Devon has two large racecourses which always make for a thrilling day out, that is, when you’re not in a deckchair!
England’s second largest county of Lincolnshire is the epitome of the quiet life. It’s an area that is not heavily populated, property is a steal with £172,000 the average price, crime rates are below the national average and cost of living is also low - just £55 per week for food shopping. Quiet is by no means synonymous with boring though, as you can enjoy so much that this area has to offer for retired people. Visits to Donna Nook for seal watching, Humber river estuary for bird watching, and the Wolds for walking will be interspersed with festivals and events throughout the year, like the RAF International Waddington Air Show, Lincolnshire Agricultural Show (one of the largest in the country) and the outdoor film festival at breathtaking Tudor mansion Burghley House. Traditional seaside fun can be had at Skegness, and Lincoln has many cultural attractions. If your knees allow, take a walk up Britain’s best street, Steep Hill, towards the cathedral. Bunty’s Tea Room is handily positioned halfway, so take your time and enjoy.
Rolling hills and expansive flats, sweeping coastlines and rugged moorland, bustling market towns and sleepy rural hamlets - Somerset is a contrary county. If you’re thinking of buying a home to retire here, you’ll have your pick of coastal or countryside towns and villages that are a little cheaper on average than neighbouring areas, at around £270,000.
The varied countryside is what will likely draw you to this area. If you’re ready to take your rural life one step further with some shooting and fishing, the Tarr Farm Inn in the Exmoor National Park provides help with shoot arrangements and cooking delicious meals from what you catch. And be sure to celebrate your successes with a pint of local cider!
Swansea is the second largest city in Wales, and its county area has possibly the nation’s favourite and most beautiful coastlines at the Gower peninsula. Oxwich, Rhossili and Three Cliffs Bays have topped polls and won awards, too many to count.
House prices here reflect the popularity and uniqueness of this area as you could be paying around £100,000 more for a house in the Gower than closer to the city itself, though that’s not to say the latter doesn’t have its perks as well. Swansea Bay has more traditional seaside towns, like Tenby, a particular gem with pastel-coloured Victorian houses and retro charm. Closer to the city again is the Mumbles, popular for a lively restaurant scene and scenic pier. Swansea has fairly low burglary rates and the cost of living, though quite high for Wales, falls about average for the country as a whole. Family and friends will be forming an orderly queue to come and visit you in this beautiful part of the world.
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If you’re thinking of moving away from London or Surrey for your retirement, West Sussex will be a popular choice. It’s more expensive than other retirement hotspots, in house price and cost of living, so may be out of reach for some, but downsizing from the capital’s commuter belt is achievable, with average house prices of close to £350,000. Crime rates here are below average, transport links to London are good from the county’s only city, Chichester, and it’s also the sunniest county in the UK according to Met Office records. Leisure time in West Sussex is befitting of those who enjoy the finer things in life and can indulge in their later years. The Goodwood Circuit is a classic car enthusiasts’ dream with events year round. The warm weather and coastal breezes have allowed vineyards to thrive here, the Bolney Estate in particular is worth a visit. And finally, why not try something new - you’ll find the historic home of British Polo at Cowdray, perfect for one of those sunny days.
Hertfordshire borders Greater London to the south, and it’s an ideal choice if you’re retiring and downsizing out of the capital, but would still like to be close enough to enjoy London’s culture and entertainment when you want. Average house prices are high and will be familiar for Londoners at £440,000, but for ongoing costs, you’ll be making savings with an average weekly grocery shop coming in at only £54. Outside of the main urban areas of St Albans and Stevenage, Hertfordshire is dotted with quaint villages. The Ayots is a clutch of hamlets near Welwyn Garden City. Brocket Hall is close to this sleepy settlement, and provides the residents with a top class restaurant and golf course on their doorstep. Knebworth House and estate lies in the heart of the county and offers a full calendar of events in a beautiful setting that you can visit again and again.
With England’s highest mountain and largest lakes, a move to the Lake District, the country’s largest National Park, is big in more ways than one. The setting for your new home and retired life will be splendid, whether you choose a solitary rural cottage or something in one of the Park’s larger towns, like Keswick and Windermere. Property in this area costs £238,000 on average. Cumbria has very low crime rates, and the cost of living is level with most of the country. The National Park is keen to encourage its retired residents and visitors to explore the landscape without worrying about being past your hill-walking best. There are plenty of special ‘Miles without Stiles’ routes that are accessible even for wheelchair users. As a reward for a bracing day outdoors, you can choose from four Michelin starred restaurants in the area - cheers to that!