There could be many reasons why you’re looking to relocate and move away from the city, but where are the best places to live in the UK?
The coronavirus pandemic saw many people decide that it was time to leave their homes in major towns and cities for a new life.
And before the time comes to compare mortgages for your new home, there are lots of things that will affect your decision on where to move.
With that in mind, here are some of the best places to relocate to in the UK, looking at factors such as the weather, salary potential, and more.
There are 91 local authority areas in England that are considered either ‘mainly or largely rural’ by Defra. Here’s how the biggest town in each of these areas (excluding coastal areas) ranks for the following factors:
The best rural town to live in in the UK across all factors is Maldon, which sits on the Blackwater estuary in Essex.
Maldon has the driest climate on this list with just 658mm of annual rainfall. The town also boasts excellent air quality with only 4.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions per capita each year.
The area is made up of farmland, rolling wooded ridges and tidal salt marshes, known for producing Maldon Sea Salt.
In second place is Sleaford, in North Kesteven, Lincolnshire. The market town, located on the edge of the Fenlands, has a relatively low average house price of £239,733. The town also scores highly when it comes to air quality too (4.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions per capita annually)
Sleaford has traditionally been an agricultural town and its main attractions are St. Denys’ Church and the National Centre for Craft & Design.
South Cambridgeshire regularly ranks as one of the best places to live in the UK. The same is also true here when it comes to its biggest town, Cambourne.
The town has some of the cheapest housing on the list with an average price of £221,028. The area also has some of the highest broadband speeds, at 53.3 Mbps.
Northumberland is home to the beautiful national park of the same name, and to live in the area’s biggest town is also very affordable. Cramlington lies between the national park and the city of Newcastle and has an average house price of just under £175,000.
Job opportunities are a key factor when weighing up a move. The rural town with the highest average annual salary on this list is Cambourne, at £33,797 a year.
The weather is another undeniably important factor to consider, and the warmest town here is Chichester, with an average annual temperature of 11.4°C. Like many other towns in the South, Chichester has mild winters and more hours of sunshine than other towns around the country.
As is the case with sunshine, when it comes to rainfall, things generally improve the further south you go. The town with the lowest annual rainfall is the top-rated town overall, Maldon, at 658mm per year. To put that into perspective, the rainiest town studied was Kendal, South Lakeland, which experiences over twice as much rain per year (1,396mm).
A solid internet connection is important no matter where you live, but it takes on extra importance if you live in a rural area. The local authority of Rushcliffe is the rural area with the fastest connection, averaging 60.3 Mbps.
If you’re moving to the countryside, then you’d expect to enjoy cleaner air. The rural council area with the best air quality is Aylesbury Vale, at 3.8 tonnes of CO2 per capita. There are no major industrial polluting processes in the area, which helps to keep emissions to a minimum.
Richmond, North Yorkshire, is one of the tourist centres of the Yorkshire Dales and has been described as one of the best hidden gems in the country. It also has the highest concentration of restaurants on this list, with 12.21 establishments per 1,000 residents.
Next up is a look at the best coastal places to live in the UK. As well as some of the factors included above, the quality of the local beaches and bathing waters are also considered.
Taking the top spot is Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Sheerness scored highly across the board, particularly when it comes to average wages (£26,165 a year) and reviews for its beaches (3.83 out of 5).
While as a seaside resort it obviously has a big tourism trade, there are also lots of employment opportunities in Sheerness. The town’s port is, in fact, one of the country’s biggest importers of cars and fresh produce.
In second is the Isle of Wight resort of Shanklin, known for its beach, Old Village and wooded ravine. Shanklin benefits from average temperatures of 11.6°C and has one of the highest beach review scores too.
A classically charming seaside town, Shanklin is set against the Isle of Wight’s sandstone cliffs and is home to one of the best beaches on the island.
Third place goes to a town just down the coast from first-placed Sheerness, Minster. As with its neighbour, Minster has great weather, with just 709mm of rainfall a year and an average temperature of 11.2°C.
It also has a highly rated beach, Minster Leas, a tranquil beach that has won Blie Flag awards in the past and is popular with dog walkers and families.
The only coastal town with an average house price of under £100,000 is Peterlee, County Durham. The town is located between Sunderland and Hartlepool and is built on rolling hills that overlook the limestone coast.
In terms of earnings, those in Lewes, home to the coastal towns of Seaford and Newhaven have the highest, at £27,142 a year. Seaford is a popular commuter town for those working in nearby Eastbourne and Brighton, while Newhaven has an active port trade.
If you’re moving to the coast then it’s likely that the climate is going to be important for you. The warmest coastal town on average is Penzance at 12.0°C a year.
When it comes to rainfall, two Essex towns are tied, with both Brightlingsea and West Mersea having average rainfall of 668mm a year. That’s over two times less than in northern coastal towns such as Fleetwood and Cleveleys.
Taking an average of the review scores of each beach in each town, it’s the Welsh port town of Burry Port that comes out on top. The town has three nearby beaches: Burry Port Beach, Blue Pool Bay and Broughton Bay.
Bude is one of the first major towns you’ll reach in Cornwall, and it’s also the coastal town with the most restaurants per person. The town is a very popular tourist destination, which explains why so many eateries have popped up here.
Moving you, your family and all your possessions across the country isn’t cheap. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce costs. For example, the most obvious thing is to move yourself, rather than hire a removal company. If this isn’t feasible on your own, you may be able to rope in family and friends. It’s also a good idea to take the relocation as an opportunity to declutter and sell any unnecessary or unwanted items. Not only does this net you some cash, but it also makes the move itself much smoother and easier.
Before the big day itself, there are a few things that you should do. First, you’ll need to contact your utility suppliers to let them know that you’re moving (as well as your landlord if you rent). You’ll also need to settle up any bills or council taxes on your current property before moving. If you’re using a removal company, be sure to shop around and source multiple quotes well ahead of the move. Finally, start packing away less essential items well in advance, to save time further down the line.
Relocating can be a challenge at the best of times, but even more so if you don’t already have a job in place. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t relocate. Obviously, you have to be very careful with your money and make savings where possible to see you through the initial move. You may also have to be more realistic about the new home that you can afford to buy and perhaps try and find some income from a side hustle for a while. And while it can be hard, committing to searching for a job should remain a priority while making the move, even if it means you might have to learn some new skills or slightly shift career paths.
When it comes to relocating, you can either transfer your current mortgage to your new home, remortgage with your current lender or find a new deal elsewhere. The right choice for you will depend on your own personal circumstances and you should definitely make sure to properly compare mortgage deals first to ensure that you get the best one for you and your family.
Be it for better career prospects, more beautiful surroundings or simply more pubs on your doorstep, many people relocate for a better quality of life. Check out our campaigns below to find out the best places to live in the UK, based on your life priorities.
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For the rural ranking, each local authority that is classified as either largely rural or mainly rural by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ 2011 Local Authority Rural Urban Classification was identified.
The biggest settlement in each of these areas was then analysed, omitting any primarily coastal areas, as well as any for which full data was not available.
For the coastal ranking, a list of all major coastal towns in England and Wales was sourced using the Office for National Statistics’ coastal towns in England and Wales dataset.
For both rankings, each town was given a normalised score out of ten for the relevant factors, before an average score was taken across each of the factors.
For factors where data was only available at local authority level (as opposed to for the town itself), the local authority data was applied to the individual towns.
The average house price according to Zoopla.
The median salary for the wider local authority according to the Office for National Statistics’ earnings and hours worked, place of residence by local authority data: ASHE Table 8.
The average annual temperature according to climate-data.org.
The average annual rainfall according to climate-data.org.
The median download speed for the wider local authority according to thinkbroadband’s Local Broadband Information.
The average CO2 emissions per capita for the wider local authority according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s UK local authority and regional carbon dioxide emissions national statistics.
The number of restaurants listed on Tripadvisor, calculated per 1,000 people.
Beach review score
The average score of the town or city’s beaches listed on The Beach Guide.
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.