7 Best Places to Live in the UK
The UK may be renowned for its fruity scones, perpetual drizzle, and obsession with soccer, but there’s much more to the place than a list of stereotypes. If you’re thinking of moving to the UK, you can look forward to quaint, historical towns and beautiful, rugged coastlines. Its cities might also take your fancy, with centuries of culture and exuberant nightlife pulsing throughout the country.
The United Kingdom may be a relatively small country, but when it comes to places to live, you'll be surprised how many options you have to choose from. So if you’re moving to the UK, but undecided on where to move, read on to learn more!
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Best places to live in the UK
In this article, we’ll cover the best places in the UK to move to. There's a place to meet your needs, whether you're moving for work, retirement, or to start a new adventure with your family.
The seven best places to live in the UK are:
|Best for job opportunities||London|
|Best for nightlife||Manchester|
|Best for culture||Edinburgh|
|Best for property affordability||County Durham|
|Best for families||Bath|
|Best for rural escapes||Devon|
|Best for retirement||West Sussex|
Best for job opportunities
If you’ve visited London before, you’ll no doubt have encountered the swarms of suits that parade the streets at rush hour. This is down to the fact that London is the work-capital of the country.
Let’s get one thing straight – London is massive. The City of London itself may only cover 2.9 square kilometers, but Greater London (i.e. the surrounding boroughs) spans an incredible 1,569 square kilometers. With a city this big, the population has grown to a staggering 9.2 million – and out of this population, there are roughly 4.8 million Londoners in work (up by 12,000 from the previous quarter). The only way is up!
London’s unemployment rate stands at roughly 4.5% – lower than 2018 (5.2%), and the lowest figure since comparable estimates began in 1992! With an ever-increasing number of job opportunities available, you'll be running around during rush hour in no time.
It's not just the amount of work that London provides, either – the range of jobs on offer is seemingly endless. Check out the make-up of London's work demographic below:
|Huge range of job opportunities||Cost of living is high|
|Lots of transport links||High pollution rates|
|Diverse culture||Travelling at peak times can be stressful|
This was a tricky one. If you’re partial to more than the odd night out, your best bets for UK nightlife are Newcastle, Bristol, London, and Manchester.
We’ve given Manchester the edge because it caters to more than just your average club-going student. Manchester is often referred to as the music hub of the UK – countless bands were birthed into the industry here, including The Smiths, Oasis, and the Stone Roses. But if indie bands aren’t your thing, you can always dance your way down to one of the countless venues scattered across the city.
Some of the clubs, venues, and bars to keep an eye out for include:
- The Warehouse Project – This gigantic venue is treasured not only by Mancunians, but by music lovers all over the UK. Its stage has been graced by some of the most prolific DJs and musicians in the world, including Disclosure, Aphex Twin, Flume, Skrillex, and The Black Madonna. On a typical night, you can expect to spend hours dancing to thumping house music.
- Hidden at Downtex Mill – Not quite ready to dive head-first into the Warehouse? Perhaps it’s worth dipping your toe into something a little smaller, like Hidden. This tucked away venue also specializes in house, disco, and techno nights.
- Panacea – For those that aren’t quite in the mood for the glaring lights and pounding music, this venue will treat you to a more toned-down evening. Get ready for atmospheric low lighting, impressive cocktails, and eclectic music to kick-start your night.
Could Manchester be your new home? Well, if you're looking to spend your weekends gazing up at your favorite musician on stage and dancing your troubles away, then yes!
|Excellent nightlife||Pollution rates in the city centre are high|
|Lots of transport links||Not as many travel options as London|
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Best for culture
Every nook and cranny of the UK is coloured with its own quirkiness. The different cultures present in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are all unique and spectacular – but for us, Scotland has the edge. Scotland’s history is still very much running through the veins of the country today – and where better to experience it than the capital city of Edinburgh?
With cobbled streets and limestone-washed walls as far as the eye can see, Edinburgh is truly beautiful. Walking down the city’s narrow streets, you'll come across historical architecture, monuments, and museums – and of course, you're bound to encounter a bagpiper at least once a day.
Scotland’s vibrant culture is also reflected in its cuisine. Of course, when asked to think of a Scottish delicacy, many people would say haggis – and if you’re not familiar with this wholesome delight, then you’re in for a treat.
Traditionally, haggis consists of minced heart, liver, and lungs, which is bulked out with oatmeal, onions, suet, seasoning, and spices. This is all cooked using the cleaned sheep’s stomach as a container. Yum. Fun fact – although haggis is Scotland's national dish, the most amount of haggis is actually sold in England.
As for dessert, why not treat yourself to a deep-fried Mars Bar? Yep, you read that right. Deep-fried Mars Bars are an infamous Scottish delicacy, created in 1992. Although delicious, it may not come as a shock to hear they can contain up to 25% of your daily fat allowance.
And of course, how could we forget the annual Fringe Festival, which takes over the streets of Edinburgh every year? All throughout August, Edinburgh hosts a joyous celebration of all things art, comedy, and culture. The Fringe attracts over 4 million people from across the globe annually!
Edinburgh also topped our list for the best places to live in Scotland.
|Lots of culture||Property is expensive|
|Free education||Small city - so nightlife isn’t as big|
|Small city - so everything is easy to get to|
Best for property affordability
Moving abroad can be expensive. If you’re planning on moving to the UK, you might be considering the most affordable way to do it. As a broad rule of thumb, the further north you go in England, the cheaper the housing will be. And as for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, staying away from major cities will always push property prices down.
The UK is home to a number of towns and regions that are vying to be the most affordable, but Durham County takes the crown. According to Which?, the average house price in the county is a minuscule £107,510! If you’ve got your heart set on moving to London, this might bring a tear to your eye – in the capital, you’re looking at an average deposit of around £93,184 (three times the national average).
Not only is County Durham a cheap place to live, but it’s also an ideal home to choose. You can enjoy miles upon miles of countryside, and you’re even a short car ride from some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches. You can choose whether to live in a quaint town, or somewhere a little bigger.
Missing that city life? Not to worry – the UK’s fifth largest city, Newcastle, is just a short drive away. If you have a car, you can be there within half an hour.
|Affordable living||Some areas can be quite isolated|
|Beautiful, coastal countryside||Transport between areas aren’t great|
|Very close to Newcastle|
Best for families
We know that if you’ve got little ones running around, you’ll want to move to somewhere that’s best for them. Though the whole of the UK is dotted with pleasant rural communities, when it comes to family life, we’ve chosen one of the UK’s most scenic cities: Bath.
If you hadn’t pictured yourself raising your children in the city, hear us out. Although it has the conventional label of a ‘city’, Bath barely feels like one – it has a close-knit sense of community, as well as excellent educational facilities for your children. The highest ranking schools in Bath are below, so be sure to check them out:
Crime rates in the city have remained low, making it that much safer for your little ones to roam free. To put your mind at ease, the crime rate in Bath in 2018 was even lower than the average crime rate across similar areas.
As well as being a safe, scholarly city, Bath is also replete with greenery, meaning you can rest assured your kids will have plenty of green space to run around in.
|Small city, which is great for children||Property is expensive|
|Low crime rates||Nightlife is limited|
|Lots of history and culture|
Best for rural escapes
Though you might not think so at first, living in the UK doesn't mean you'll need to fly abroad if you want to take a beach holiday.
Okay, we know – UK weather isn’t as promising as what you might get in Spain, and we can’t promise you’ll be showing off your tan any time soon. But by moving to Devon, we can promise you bold rugged coastlines, peaceful sandy dunes, and fresh sea air. Sounds pretty perfect to us.
The county is home to 16 cities, the largest being Exeter and Plymouth. Both are equally beautiful, but not quite as breathtaking as their rural neighbors. Take a look at some of our favorite rural escapes in Devon:
- Croyde – Croyde is home to very few people, with a population of just 628 – all the more reason to take a trip there in search of some much-needed peace and quiet. Croyde Bay beach attracts surfers from across the country all year round, with some of the best surfing conditions in the UK. Not up for catching a wave? The beach itself, scattered with sand dunes, is gorgeous, so be sure to take a stroll or simply sit back and enjoy the views.
- Torbay – A traditional seaside town, Torbay offers the best of both worlds: a lovely collection of shops and restaurants, surrounded by nature’s golden goodness.
- The Jurassic Coast – Not to be confused with Jurassic Park, this area’s name comes from the numerous fossils that have been found along its cliffs which date back to the Jurassic period. Apart from fossil hunting, you can also enjoy views of the glistening sea from up on the hilltops, and trail walks that beggar belief.
So, if you’re craving a slower pace of life away from urban metropolises, you might have found a match made in Devon.
|Gorgeous countryside||Not for city people as most areas are small towns|
|Home to some of the UK’s best beaches||Some areas are quite isolated|
|Less pollution than most of the UK|
Best for retirement
This is another tricky category. Most of the UK’s rural areas are perfect for retirement, and we found it was a close call between Dorset, East Sussex, and West Sussex. Cities like York and Bath are equally good for retirement if you’re looking for a city-focussed retirement.
You may have noticed that most of these places are in the south of the UK. Indeed, a survey looking at the best places to retire found that seven of the Top 10 counties (Norfolk, Worcestershire, and Shropshire) were not in the South of England.
But what makes West Sussex the best of the bunch?
- Outdoors – It’s no secret that a lot of pensioners love the outdoors. Taking daily walks in the fresh air is recommended to most people at this age, so what better place to do it than in the glorious countryside?
- Activities – With 22% of its population in retirement, there must be some kinds of activities going on, right? Book clubs, exercise clubs, gardening… you name it. These clubs are also great opportunities for people to meet fellow pensioners!
- Beaches – Beaches are said to be good for the soul, but they’re also extremely good for your body. The air is much cleaner, and the salt water is good for your skin. West Sussex’s beaches also get the most sun in the UK, meaning more vitamin D to soak in!
|Excellent retirement facilities||Property is expensive|
|Picturesque countryside but still close to cities||For nightlife, East (Brighton) will be better for you|
|Beautiful sandy beaches|
Best places to live in the UK: What’s the verdict?
Moving to the UK will be what you make of it. Whether you’re moving for work, retirement, or just to have a smashing time abroad, you’ll be able to find somewhere that meets your needs. Hopefully this article will have given you a little nudge in the direction of where you’d like to move.
To refresh your memory, the seven best places to live in the UK are:
- County Durham
- West Sussex
Hopefully, moving to the UK doesn’t feel so daunting now. If it helps, 74% of American expats feel comfortable in their new home after moving.
Once you decide where in the UK will be best for you, it’s time for the tough part: actually moving your belongings across the globe with you. Well, you might think it’s the tough bit, but you can make everything much simpler by contacting our professionals – just fill in the quick details form, and they’ll be in touch with a free shipping quote. It'll be a walk in the park!