7 Best Places to Retire in the UK
Ah, retirement. Your long-awaited chance to get back to grips with the great outdoors, catch up on those lapsed hobbies, or just sit back and relax.
Whether it’s to downsize or simply move somewhere more suitable, a quarter of people plan to move house when they retire. If you’re one of these people, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to retirement spots in the UK. Breathtaking scenery, charming villages, historical cities – there’s something out there for everyone.
Check out our top seven places to retire in the UK below.
Crime rate: 3rd lowest in the UK
Average property price: £187,119
Home to the third-lowest crime rate in the UK, refreshingly affordable housing, and picturesque countryside as far as the eye can see, Cumbria is a retiree paradise – if a little on the chilly side.
If you picture your retirement unfolding in a chocolate-box village amongst friendly locals, Ambleside, Hawkshead, and Keswick are perfect options. If you get your kicks from the excitement of city life, however, you might be better off heading to one of the larger locations in Cumbria, such as Carlisle. As the only city in the county, Carlisle has a lot to offer, including rich history and culture, a huge variety of shops, countless cafes, and a wide range of restaurants.
As an added bonus, getting from place to place comes with ease in Cumbria. Some retirees might even be eligible for the ‘older person’s bus pass’, community minibus sharing schemes, or the Rural Wheels Scheme, which provides door to door transport for those who are unable to access scheduled transport.
Crime rate: 6th lowest in the UK
Average property price: £290,637
Home to the Cotswolds, Castle Combe, and countless cute cottages dotted around the county, Wiltshire is the dream location for anyone looking for the quiet life.
Despite its pricey properties, Salisbury holds a special place in many peoples’ hearts. Although it’s the second-largest city in the county, it still has historical beauty etched into its architecture, as well as a plethora of nature reserves and parks, weekend markets, and cute independent stores. Locals can also look forward to the annual Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, which takes place between May and June.
If your heart is set on a quieter home in the sticks, however, then Wiltshire’s villages won’t disappoint. The Nadder Valley, the Wylye Valley, and the Chalke Valley feature pockets of thatched cottages, old farmhouses, and manor houses to choose from.
What’s more, this county looks out for its elderly with its Link Schemes. These community-based, volunteer-run charities aim to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged or elderly people by providing transport and ‘good neighbour’ services.
Autumn leaves reflecting in the Kennet and Avon Canal, Wiltshire
Crime rate: 11th lowest in the UK
Average property price: £272,714
From the dramatic coastline in the east to the natural wonders of The Brecks in the west, Suffolk is a breath of fresh air for anyone wanting to start retirement well away from busy cities.
Although the property prices can be a little steep, Bury St Edmunds is perfect for Londoners wanting to retire outside the capital. Not only are residents here spoiled with a wide range of high street stores, local restaurants, and pubs, but they’re also less than an hour from the Suffolk coast!
Make your way through the series of independent boutiques and leading high street stores, or pop to one of the town's many leisure facilities, including spas, swimming pools, golf courses, and tennis courts.
Fancy more peace and quiet? Kersey might be just the place for you. This quintessential English village only has a population of 350 people – but this doesn’t take away from its vibrant sense of community.
Alternatively, you can head for the Suffolk coast and settle in Beccles – a town made up of small market squares, with the River Waveney running through it. Post-COVID, we recommend you keep an eye out for its arts and entertainment festivals.
Crime rate: 12th lowest in the UK
Average property price: £155,694
As the second-largest county in the UK, you’re sure to find your perfect home in Lincolnshire – and with the average property price at £155,694, it would be rude not to!
Well known for its water sport and leisure facilities, Tallington is an ideal location for any retirees wanting to stay active. Residents here get the best of both worlds – the village is just a few miles from the bustling town of Stamford, and a short walk away from peaceful countryside views.
Sleaford – a quaint market town in Lincolnshire – also has a lot to offer retirees. Home to the National Centre for Craft & Design, residents here are free to explore exhibitions from innovative emerging artists all year round. And if you think of yourself as a history buff, you’re sure to enjoy the Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre and RAF Digby Ops Room, both of which let you step into the past of British aviation.
Despite being a large county, there are plenty of public transport options available for those that don’t drive – and at no added cost if you qualify for the free bus pass. The Dial and Ride Scheme also supports less mobile people in getting around Lincoln, whilst the Community Car Scheme ensures elderly and disabled people are able to travel in the more rural areas.
5. County Durham
Crime rate: 16th lowest in the UK
Average property price: £142,387
County Durham has a throng of beautiful towns and villages dotted around its stunning countryside, accompanied by some of the most affordable property prices in the UK. And with a bustling city at its heart, it’s no wonder so many people make the move to retire here.
Retirees don’t typically picture settling down in a city for their twilight years – but Durham might well be the exception. Known for its impressive castle, captivating cathedral, and amazing architecture, Durham draws in thousands of history-lovers from around the globe. And if it’s nature you’re seeking, this northern city is surrounded by luscious greenery, with pockets of parks scattered across the city. You really get the best of both worlds here.
If you find yourself craving cute and cosy villages, however, Barnard Castle might be for you. Famed for many reasons (most recently as a spot to test your eyesight, apparently), Barnard Castle is a haven for anyone hunting for unique shopping experiences, thanks to the town’s many antique and independent shops. The Witham arts centre also holds music events, theatre performances, film showings, and comedy nights.
Sunlight kissing the Durham Cathedral, as it overlooks a snow-laden River Wear
Crime rate: 21st lowest in the UK
Average property price: £195,434
Affordable property, low crime rates, and traditional English charm? It’s almost too good to be true.
The city of Stafford is likely to be on the higher end of the property ladder, but it's perfect for anyone wanting to keep busy in retirement. The city centre is brimming with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Plus, the city sits just off the M6, and boasts excellent rail connections – making it easy for anyone trying to get around.
At the heart of Staffordshire, you’ll find Lichfield – a vibrant and historic city, often depicted as a more picturesque option than Stafford. Its large shopping centre, market square, and wide-ranging restaurants mean you’ll have plenty to explore, no matter the weather.
Of course, there are also many Staffordshire villages to choose from – some overlooking the dramatic landscape of the Peak District. For the best of both worlds, we recommend Biddulph – known as the Garden Town of Staffordshire, this green district is set in the scenic surroundings of the Staffordshire Moorlands. You can expect National Trust gardens, an array of shops, cafes, and pubs to enjoy, as well as an annual folk festival and monthly artisan markets.
Crime rate: 28th lowest in the UK
Average property price: £275,574
Excluding Cornwall from this list would be criminal. For some, this coastal county is a bit too pricey for retirement – but if you have the funds, it can be an ideal place to spend your autumn years.
Penzance is a retiree’s heaven. Explore its traditional historic pubs, independent shops, and galleries, look out over the glorious views at Mount's Bay, or take a stroll through the weekly farmer's markets.
Alternatively, you can make St Ives your new home. On the fringes of this relaxing town, you can find white sandy beaches that will make you feel like an expat in Spain on a nice summer’s day.
And if you’re longing for retirement surrounded by beach-goers, there’s no better place than the Cornish town of Newquay. Bask on the beach, gaze over the breath-taking coastal scenery, or spend your evenings enjoying endless entertainment. If you can endure the tens of thousands of tourists each year – thanks to its acclaimed surfing spots – Newquay is a perfect spot to spend your retirement.
There are so many beautiful spots you can visit in Cornwall through various elderly travel schemes. Not only will you be eligible for a concession bus pass, but you can also look into Transport Access People (TAP), which arranges door-to-door transport for people who have difficulty accessing other forms of public transport.
It can be difficult narrowing down which place is best for you to retire in the UK. Whether you end up sunning yourself (or bracing yourself for a windy walk) on the beach in Cornwall, or layering up in the chilly County Durham, you’re sure to find something right for you.