The Best Places to Live in the UK 2017
The British Isles may be small in size compared to our European neighbours, but what we lack in stature we more than make up for in sheer variety. From north to south, east to west, there’s something to suit every lifestyle and age range thanks to a vibrant network of cosmopolitan cities, an abundance of natural beauty, boutique galleries, theatres, bars and restaurants by the bucket load and of course, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities.
Yep, we’re pretty spoilt for choice – which can make deciding on your next move something of a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work and rounded up the top places to live in the UK for you.
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The pretty university city of Cambridge dates back to prehistoric times, and its ancient roots are apparent everywhere. From Iron Age remains on Castle Hill, to the gothic buildings that dot the skyline through to the quaint passages that weave their way around the market place.
The city wears its history proudly, but it’s also brimming with energy thanks in part to its thriving tech scene. If you’re a web developer, have a killer idea for an app or are an inventor of gadgets, Cambridge is a hub of inspiration. Feeding off the university, the city is home to Europe’s largest tech cluster with more than 57,000 people employed by around 1,500 tech companies. According to the University of Cambridge, those firms generate a staggering £13 billion in revenue every year, and the number is growing exponentially.
When work’s finished, there’s live music at the Corn Exchange, a theatre which regularly hosts touring productions, punting on the river, a thriving street food scene, buzzing performance art and a huge network of cycle paths.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have made Norfolk their base for the last few years, swapping Kensington Palace for the East Anglian county to bring up their two children. For those in the know, this will come as little surprise as Norfolk is an excellent place to bring up a family. There’s over 90 miles of rugged, unspoilt coastline to explore, old-fashioned seaside towns like Great Yarmouth and Cramer plus lots of lovely beaches, dotted with beach huts.
For those who love the Great Outdoors, Norfolk really does have it all, with the Broads National Park on the doorstep, sweeping countryside and a choice of nature reserves. In the winter, nature fans, hikers and photographers can enjoy the Winter Wildlife Safari which offers some of the best bird watching anywhere in the UK.
Seafarer Lord Nelson was born in Norfolk – just one of the facts local children are sure to learn in the abundance of great schools.
Once better known for its steel than its students, today Sheffield is a buzzing city and one of the best places to be a graduate or young professional in the North of England. Sheffield University is a world top 100 university and was voted best in the country for student satisfaction in the 2014-15 Times Higher Education Awards making it a popular choice for undergraduate and postgraduate study.
Sheffield is the UK’s fifth city and is known to be one of the greenest in Europe, giving it the convenience of an urban location without much of the pollution and waste. Its great location means it’s surrounded by greenery – the Peak District is just half an hour away by bus or train – and there are hundreds of venues for nightlife, culture and live music.
If you’re struggling to get a foot on the property ladder as a first time buyer, Sheffield is easily one of the top places to look with figures from Zooplasuggesting it’s affordable for young buyers with a semi-detached property costing under £180,000 on average and terraced properties typically available for just £136,000 on average.
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Home to some of Britain’s prettiest coastal towns, Dorset is a fabulous place to retire, with residents able to do as much or as little as they want. If you’re looking for a quieter pace of life, Dorset is an area of outstanding natural beauty with picture-perfect views to drink in day after day. There’s an abundance of nature events, including learning how to draw and photograph the area’s nature, award winning gardens to enjoy at Forde Abbey and monthly nature walks at
Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve.
Historic country inns, family friendly pubs and quaint tea rooms will feed the body, while performance art and exhibitions take place through the year to feed the mind.
Clapham is officially cool. It’s one of the trendiest places to live in London and has a great eclectic vibe. Young professionals are moving to Clapham in their droves, drawn by the bustle, nightlife and transport of London coupled with the convenience of being out of the city itself and backed by the scenery of Clapham Common. A designated Park since 1878, Clapham Common is a great venue for lunchtime sunbathing or enjoying live music at the bandstand in summer, football tournaments, picnics or festivals. With 220 hectares of green space you’re never far from a new view if you just want to chill out. Wandsworth Common is a short 15 minute walk away and Battersea Park a quick bus ride down the road.
Both Clapham High Street and Clapham Junction provide an abundance of nightlife options with pubs, clubs and bars aplenty along with the usual takeaway options. Tooting, with its highly recommended Indian restaurants, is also within easy reach.
Crossing the River Avon in the Southwest, Bristol is a great place to move to. It combines plentiful job opportunities with a wonderful music and cultural scene, great amenities for families, good schools, superb public transport network and an extensive student population. It’s also got a buzzy, innovating feel to it thanks to a booming start-up culture. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Bristol is a great place to start a business, as it’s long since been a go-to destination for actors, writers and musicians seeking inspiration for their next great work.
Bristol is also carving out a name for itself as a hip gourmet destination with a melting pot of cuisines and cool new restaurants springing up in reclaimed warehouses and other unexpected locations. With street art, festivals, miles and miles of cycle paths, a booming shopping quarter and markets aplenty, there really is something for everyone.
It might be right at the other end of the country, but Edinburgh is very much Bristol’s twin with a reputation as being a great all rounder. Its rich in culture, with magnificent architecture, a beguiling Medieval old town and classic Georgian new town. There are crown jewels, monuments, Michelin starred restaurants, panoramic views, world class cultural venues and art galleries, theatres and music performances, not to mention literature, poetry and film festivals by the bucket load.
Despite being Scotland’s capital city, it has retained a decent cost of living, making it an affordable option for many. It has the second highest average wage in the UK and according to Uswitch. Edinburgh is definitely the best place to live in the UK.