Here are the best 25 best places to raise a family in the UK
As the UK continues to grapple with the cost of living crisis, raising a family is becoming more expensive than ever. With less spending power, choosing the right destination for you and your brood could make a monumental difference to the quality of your life. But if only it were as easy as finding the cheapest place to live. As well as affordable houses and good wages, you’ll want to make sure you can give your growing family the best possible start in life, with good access to great schools, low crime rates and plenty of green space.
Fortunately, there are pockets across the country that will tick all of these boxes and also offer good value for money. With this in mind, we’ve analysed and ranked the top cities and towns in the UK to raise a family. Our points-based system analyses:
- Property prices and average salaries (house price-to-income ratio) - 30 points
- Education - 20 points
- Safety - 20 points
Bringing the total overall points to 70. We’ve also considered factors such as access to green spaces, transport links and family-friendly attractions.
Total points: 39
This large town in South Yorkshire takes the 20th spot thanks to its excellent house price-to-income ratio. Families can take their pick from elegant Victorian properties in Moorgate, cottages in Micklebring and high-spec renovations in Hooton Roberts for an average price of £174,711 – less than a third of the price of some of the more expensive cities on our list. Average income sits at around £33,553, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a decent and affordable space for your growing family either.
It’s just a twenty-minute drive to the vibrant city of Sheffield and there are good transport links to Leeds and Nottingham too. Crime rates in Rotherham are low, though education ranks below average so families may need to travel further to find better schooling.
Total points: 40
Bath frequently ranks as one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, so it’s little surprise that it comes up trumps when it comes to raising a family. The Georgian spa town enjoys famously low crime rates – the lowest on our list – making it one of the safest places to raise your family. We also gave the city top marks for its superb state and private schools, which rank well above average. There are 82 state-funded and eight independent schools to choose from, including St Andrew’s Church School, Norton Hill Academy and Kingswood School.
As you might expect, the house price-to-income ratio is a little less impressive, with average house prices of £632,439 and average incomes of £35,192. That said, if you’re on a good salary you could find yourself living in an elegant sand-hued townhouse or country house on the outskirts.
18. St Albans
Total points: 40
Located just 21 miles from the heart of the capital city, St Albans is a top commuter town. The small historic city, located in Hertfordshire, boasts brilliant connections to London with an average train journey to London St. Pancras taking just 20 minutes. Like Bath, schools rank well above average and crime rates are extremely low.
Those looking for a period property are well catered for here, with a wide range of medieval cottages and Georgian houses in the conservation area and Fishpool Street. More modern housing is concentrated closer to Clarence Park and the station. Houses are higher than the national average and the highest on our list, at £636,439. However, this is offset by slightly higher than average wages of £40,417
Total points: 41
This blockbuster city is home to one of the country’s most famous academic institutions and – unsurprisingly – some of the best schools in the country. The city gets top marks for its wide range of primary and secondary education options, which count top-performing schools like Cherwell, St Philip and St James and Magdalen College School in its roster. Crime rates have remained low too.
Oxford is also remarkably well connected, just 56 miles from London, 64 miles from Birmingham and 24 miles from Reading. Average salaries are slightly lower than those in St Albans at £37,849 but house prices average a more palatable £451,000, putting the house-to-income ratio at 11.92.
Total points: 41
Leicester boasts one of the most central locations in the country, with access to most corners of England in less than four hours. It’s a commuter hotspot thanks to its location and excellent transport links, but there’s plenty to keep families happy in the city too, from more than 130 parks to an abundance of high street shops. Schools rank higher than average too, though crime rates are rated ‘moderate’ and are slightly higher than those in surrounding towns.
Average wages are lower than other entries at £32,798, though this is balanced out by extremely affordable housing prices of £224,600.
Total points: 41
Nicknamed ‘The Waterfront City’, Swansea is an ideal option for families looking to balance urban living with easy access to spectacular countryside. Families can take their pick from a wide range of affordable housing options, from rural and coastal living in surrounding villages on the Gower Peninsula, picturesque houses in the suburbs and post-war semis and Victorian terraced houses in the city centre. Average house prices are extremely affordable compared to other cities at £201,862 and wages average £33,020.
Like most large cities, Swansea experiences moderate levels of crime though these figures are significantly smaller than the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Coventry. Schools rank higher than average too and the city is home to some of Wales’ top-ranking schools, like Olchfra School.
Total points: 41
Leeds is an excellent place to raise a family, thanks to its good transport links to nearby towns and cities, great schools and abundance of parks, museums and shopping. The city has the largest regional income outside London, with emerging sectors in digital, tech, media and creative industries. The house price-to-income ratio is good at 6.02, with average house prices of £206,300 and wages averaging £34,273.
It’s a top choice for families who prioritise education too. There are close to 300 schools in Leeds, including top-ranking state-funded and independent schools like Blenheim Primary School and Hillcrest Academy. Crime rates are rated moderate.
Total points: 43
The Scottish capital is a top choice for families looking to combine the charms of a historic city with a wealth of green space. Top family-friendly neighbourhoods include Stockbridge (a short walk from the city centre), Morningside, Bruntsfield and Corstorphine. Unsurprisingly, it is more expensive than other large Scottish cities, particularly when it comes to buying a house. The average cost of a house is currently £264,300, though this is still significantly lower than some of the UK’s more expensive cities. Wages average £37,55, giving Edinburgh a house price-to-income ratio of 7.4.
Crime rates are low considering it is the capital and education is higher than average. The city boasts some of the best-performing schools in the country, including Boroughmuir High School, The Royal High School and James Gillespie’s High School.
Total points: 44
Darlington is an excellent option for families looking to get more bang for their buck. The market town has some of the cheapest houses in the UK, with average house prices of £171,796. True, average wages are lower too at £31,575, though this balances out to a very appealing house price-to-income ratio of 5.44. The town is brimming with historic character, with the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District national parks and North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on its doorstep. It offers good transport links along the main East Coast Train line too.
Crime rates are moderate but schools have remained consistently higher than average. The town is home to some top-ranking primary schools too, including Corporation Road Community Primary School, Red Hall Primary School and Northwood Primary School.
11. St Helens
Total points: 44
Squeezed between two major cities and sprawling countryside, St Helens is an excellent option for families who are looking for a more rural lifestyle without forfeiting the conveniences of the big city. With prices averaging £179,139, housing sits at the cheaper end of the spectrum, while average incomes of £34,631 exceed those in neighbouring towns and some cities. Families big and small can choose from Victoria and Georgian period properties, traditional farmhouses and newly developed modern builds in the town centre. Crime rates are moderate and education ranks higher than average, with several schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Total points: 44
Scotland’s sunniest city is a top choice for people looking to raise a family thanks to its attractive and affordable housing, parks and green spaces and a strong sense of community. Despite being a relatively small and compact city, there’s a good variety of housing on offer, ranging from affluent Edwardian homes in the West End to pretty seaside suburbs. House prices average a pocket-pleasing £176,635 and wages average £34,573 to give a house price-to-income ratio of 5.11.
Investment is pouring into the city, kicking off with the £1bn redevelopment of the waterfront. The city’s 10 primary schools and 11 secondary schools rank higher than average, with top performers like High School of Dundee securing Advanced Higher pass rates of over 91.8%. There are moderate levels of crime in the city.
Total points: 46
It’s easy to see why Warrington repeatedly ranks as one of the nicest places to live in the UK. The town is brimming with history, shops and green spaces. It might be the largest town in Cheshire, but it’s more laid-back than neighbouring cities though Liverpool and Manchester can easily be reached in less than 40 minutes. It’s also one of the safest cities in the North West, with low rates of crime. Schools are rated higher than average, with around 57 primary schools and secondary schools receiving an ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ rating from Ofsted.
Despite its many advantages, living here remains relatively affordable too with an average house price of £250,127 and average wages of £36,209.
Total points: 47
This seaside city in the North East has an award-winning coastline, bountiful historic buildings and oodles of green space. It might have its roots in an industrial past, but Sunderland today is a forward-thinking ‘Smart City’, with excellent business, housing and cultural opportunities. House prices have, happily, remained very affordable for families, with average prices of £160,830 – some of the cheapest on our list. Wages average £33,513, giving the city a house price-to-income ratio of 4.8. There are 109 state-funded schools and two independent schools in the city which rank ‘higher than average’ too. Crime levels are moderate.
Total points: 47
Frequently ranked as the ‘happiest town in Greater Manchester’, Wigan is a great option for families. It’s a popular commuter town, with efficient transport links to Manchester, Liverpool and Bolton though house prices have stayed low at £166,304. Wages average £35,094, giving the town a high house price-to-income ratio of 4.74.
Along with strong employment rates, moderate crime rates and affordable housing, education ranks higher than average in Wigan. There are several outstanding schools in the area, including Bedford High School and Golborne High School.
Total points: 47
Newcastle is renowned for its friendliness, which makes it an excellent choice for those looking to raise a family. While wages are relatively low at £33,513, house prices are the second-lowest of any city or town on our list at £147,600. Leafy Jesmond is one of the most sought-after suburbs in the city, though Sandyford and Fenham are becoming popular with families thanks to a wide choice of large, affordable housing and high-performing schools. Top schools include St Mary’s Catholic School and Sacred Heart Catholic School, both rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Crime is moderate too.
This picturesque cathedral city is beloved by families for its peace and quiet, green spaces and thriving independent businesses. Education ranks well above average, making it an excellent option for families keen to get their little ones into some of the top-ranking schools in the region. Families can take their pick from 58 schools, including 46 state-funded and seven independent schools.
The city boasts low levels of crime too, making it one of the safest cities in East Anglia. There’s an excellent range of affordable housing in Norwich City Centre, the Golden Triangle and Eaton with prices averaging £291,413. Wages are slightly lower than average at £33,241, giving the city an average house price-to-income ratio of 8.77.
4. Sutton Coldfield
Total points: 50
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield may be just a 20-minute drive from Birmingham’s bustling city centre, but it seems a world away. In fact, this sought-after suburb is the leafiest town in the UK, with green space covering more than half of the town’s total land area. It’s also home to some of the best schools in the country, with more than eight rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. With average house prices of £305,938, it isn’t the cheapest place to purchase property in the country, though average incomes are slightly higher than neighbouring towns at £35,392. Crime rates are rated as low too.
Total points: 50
Combining culture, countryside and coastline, Colchester is a top destination for families. It’s one of the safest cities in Essex with low levels of crime, and it also boasts an outstanding collection of schools and educational establishments. Top-ranking schools include The Gilberd School and Unity Primary Academy, and students achieve a higher-than-average number of GCSEs and A-levels when compared with the rest of the country.
Houses are more expensive than other destinations in Essex, in part because of its speedy transport links to central London. House prices average £311,932 and salaries average £36,318, giving it an average house price to income ratio of 8.59. Families can choose from a wide range of properties, from medieval to Georgian to Victoria to Edwardian and later.
Total points: 51
The Derbyshire town of Chesterfield is the second-best place to raise a family in the whole of the UK, thanks to its affordable and appealing houses and excellent schooling options. It might be the country’s largest town, but it has managed to retain its friendly, welcoming character despite new developments cropping around the outskirts of the city. It’s a top choice for families who love the ‘Great Outdoors’ too, as it’s just a stone’s throw from the rugged Peak District and a plethora of wildlife reserves and reservoirs.
Average wages languish at around £33,442, though this is balanced out by affordable housing. House prices currently average £220,825 for properties in the city centre and picturesque suburbs like Holymoorside and Wingerworth. And, when it comes to good schools, the town is brimming with them. Schools like Westfield Infant School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Parkside Community School have all been rated as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by Ofsted.
Total points: 55
Aberdeen takes the top spot in the country when it comes to raising a family. Situated on Scotland’s spectacular northeast coast, this lively metropolis is brimming with history, culture and character. The city is surrounded by soaring mountain scenes, so adventure and scenic walks will be right on your doorstep too. But you won’t need to pay a premium to enjoy all the city has to offer – Aberdeen boasts the lowest house price-to-income ratio on our list. Average house prices have settled at around £142,300, while average salaries are significantly higher than in other cities in the country at £40,325.
It might be Scotland’s third-largest city, but Aberdeen enjoys low crime rates too. Education is also rated as higher than average and a few of the city’s academies have made it into The Times Scotland league table, such as Cults Academy and Northfield Academy.