The Best Places to Live in the UK: By the Numbers

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The UK is a land of geographic variance, and living in one corner of the country is often a very different experience than in another. This is true from a cultural perspective, yet also in terms of quality of life – indeed, you will find living in some areas much more of a challenge than others. Popular perception would probably crown the south of England as the best place to live, but do these numbers hold up? Looking at three key metrics; unemployment, crime and property prices; is revealing.


In these turbulent economic times finding a job is a primary concern for a vast majority of the populace. In this regional joblessness rates are quite illuminating, as finding a job is much easier when there is less competition. In this respect living in the South East or South West of England is ideal, where the Office for National Statistics has employment at 6.2 and 6.5 per cent respectively. The north of England fares much worse with unemployment at around 10 per cent, while the City has similar metrics. Perhaps London isn’t best for job seekers, despite the perception that it is a fantastic spot for opportunistic young workers.

Crime Rates

Crime rates are another important consideration when trying to find somewhere to live. This measure is particularly pertinent for families with children who want to rest easy, and allow their children a measure of freedom to wander the streets and play. The areas with the highest number of offences include Manchester, London, West Midlands, Nottinghamshire and Humberside according to the Home Office.

This is no surprise at all as larger metropolitan areas can be expected to have the higher rates of crime that come hand in hand with dense populations. Areas like West Suffolk, which saw a 2.3 per cent drop in crime last year, might be a good bet for families looking for peace of mind and a respite from the city living. This area is full of pleasant towns with strong communities and decent regional economies. Bury St Edmunds is a particularly appealing place to live as it’s the economic centre of West Suffolk, yet still has a pleasant small town feel. Click here for property listings in Bury St Edmunds, or look for other regional centres that mesh decent economic activity and pleasant living conditions.

Property Prices

Property prices can vary incredibly throughout the UK. London always has astronomical rates, while the further north you go the more affordable things become. This useful link from the BBC, gives a good insight into just how much prices rise as you go south. Naturally, property prices will also drop as you move into more rural areas, while central homes are likely to be prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of UK residents.

These three measures are a good basis for making a decision on where to live in the UK, yet they present a complicated picture. Jobs are easier to find in the south of England, yet it can be very expensive to live. The north is more affordable, however, jobs there are scarce. Above all these figures would dissuade one from living in London as property rates, unemployment and crime are all high.

Of course it is not all doom and gloom. Bury St Edmunds and other small, middle-English communities can present a nice middle ground. Property in the Midlands, York and East Anglia is affordable and crime rates in local communities will be much lower. It is also worth considering Scotland: data from 2009 pegged unemployment in Edinburgh at 3 per cent, while house prices north of the border are generally far below those found in the south – then again, the weather might keep you from pursuing that option.

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