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Best Places To Live In The UK

Are you thinking of making a big move to the UK? Or perhaps you’re thinking of relocating someplace else within the country? Either way, take a look at this guide to the best places to live in the UK. 

The UK is full of fabulous places to set up home, complete with fantastic transport links, excellent schools, and activities for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it’s by the sea, nestled in the countryside, or close to bustling towns, the UK has some great places for you to potentially call home.

Keep reading to find out more about the best places to live in the UK. 

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England

Horsham, South East

town centre in Horsham West Sussex

Horsham is a market town in Sussex. Set in incredible parkland and beautiful countryside, the town is often voted one of the best places to live in England.

It’s the perfect blend of old and new. Horsham has excellent transport links, and the hustle and bustle of the city is easy to get to. It’s under 30 minutes by car from Crawley and Gatwick, and the Horsham Train Station offers direct links to London. 

But it’s not just the transport links that make Horsham such an attractive place to live. The town is popular with families as it boasts some great schools that have excellent Ofsted ratings. A large factor that affects how desirable a place is to live in, is the existence of green space.

There are numerous fields, parks and open spaces in and around the town, such as Horsham Park, Warnham Local Nature Reserve and Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens. The National Trust Nymans is only a short drive away, and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is also nearby. 

In town, you’ll find plenty of places to eat and drink, from popular chains to independent restaurants. Although the town is more laid back, there are a few excellent pubs and bars. When it comes to leisure, you won’t run out of things to do. There are many gyms and sports clubs, an excellent high street, two markets a week, and a fab entertainment centre.

Selby, Yorkshire and The Humber

Centenary poppies display at Selby Town Hall

Selby is a historic town and one of Yorkshire’s hidden gems. Situated in the heart of Yorkshire, it enjoys excellent transport links to Leeds, York and Hull, as well as the coast and Yorkshire’s National Parks. 

Selby is a fantastic place to live, especially for families. The town is located in one of the safest parts of one of the safest counties in England, so it sees a lot of people staying long term.

Another draw for families is the top quality education. Selby and the surrounding area has one of the country’s leading further education colleges, excellent primary schools and great independent schools. 

One of the main draws that Selby has are the house prices, which are significantly lower than neighbouring urban areas. This means that you’ll get more bang for your buck. Plus, being surrounded by all that beautiful Yorkshire countryside makes it extra worth it.

If you’re a walker or a cyclist, the Selby district has countless walks and trails that wind through picturesque villages and outstanding countryside. For something more local, Barlow Common Nature Reserve is a peaceful place for a stroll. 

There are plenty of things to do in town as well. Selby Leisure Centre offers swimming pools, exercise classes and sports facilities. There’s also the Summit Indoor Adventure Park which is fun for the whole family.

In the centre of town, you’ll find Selby Abbey, a huge and breathtaking medieval abbey founded in 1069. Fancy a bit of shopping? You’ll find a huge array of chains and independent shops. 

Cheltenham, South West

Sudeley Castle garden and church in Winchcombe, Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a large spa town in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds. Famous for its Regency architecture, the town has plenty to offer. A word of warning: if you fancy moving to Cheltenham, you’ll need deep pockets as the house prices are higher than other areas in the UK.

Having said that, it’s totally worth it. 88 miles west-northwest of London, 38 miles northeast of Bristol and 41 miles south of Birmingham, the town is well connected. London Paddington can be reached in just under two hours from Cheltenham Spa train station, and Bristol is only 45 minutes away by train.

Cheltenham has been recognised as the best place to raise a family, and it’s no surprise why. There are 14 Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ schools within three miles of the town. But it’s not just the excellent schools that make Cheltenham such a great place to live. It’s also packed with things to do.  

There are tons of lush green parks such as Montpellier Gardens and Pittville Park. There’s also the Sandford Parks Lido which is perfect for hot days.

The town also happens to be a key shopping destination, with traditional shopping streets, arcades and markets. You’ll also find cultural treasures like the Cheltenham Town Hall, the Holst Birthplace Museum and the Pittville Pump Room.

Of course, no conversation about Cheltenham would be complete without a mention of the legendary Cheltenham Racecourse.

Bollington, North West

An old factory on the banks of the canal near Bollington in Cheshire

Fancy settling down somewhere in the North West? Bollington is the place to be. Situated in Cheshire, the town sits on the edge of the beautiful Peak District National Park and Macclesfield Forest.

The Macclesfield Canal runs through Bollington, adding to the picturesque scenery. Plus, it’s known to residents as ‘Happy Valley’, so it’s definitely a great place to live. With so much outdoors to explore, it’s no wonder that the quality of life is so great in Bollington.

Although transport links aren’t as well-connected as other places on this list (expect a longer drive to the M56 and M60 motorways), you can still access places like Macclesfield and Alderley Edge pretty easily. 

With four primary schools in Bollington and secondary schools within travelling distance, it’s an ideal location for families. There are plenty of activities for the whole family to get involved in, whether it’s outdoor activities like walking and cycling, shopping or discovering the town’s famous landmark White Nancy.

Bollington also has a fantastic community spirit, with plenty of local organisations, clubs and events like the Bollington Brass Band, Bollington Light Opera Group and Bollington Festival. Bollington also enjoys a good reputation for the number and quality of pubs and restaurants it has. 

Scotland

Dundee, Dundee

Murraygate pedestrian street in Dundee

Dundee is a coastal city in eastern Scotland, set at the mouth of the River Tay. Although it’s the country’s fourth largest city, it’s quite compact, making it easy to get around on foot. It also happens to be Scotland’s sunniest city, making it an attractive place to live.

Another factor which makes it very liveable is how well connected the city is, with Edinburgh and Glasgow less than 90 minutes by train. Dundee Airport offers direct flights to London City Airport. 

Another reason that Dundee is so attractive to live in is the abundance of schools. There are currently 38 primary schools, nine secondary schools, one special educational needs school and two universities in the city. Dundee is also not short of things to do.

The city has gone through major regeneration, including the £1billion Dundee Waterfront project which has transformed it into a modern and vibrant city. There are plenty of shops, galleries and other cultural venues, with the food and drink scene really taking off. You’ll find a huge variety of cafes, bars and restaurants dotted around the city.

Dundee is the first UK city to be awarded the UNESCO City of Design status. With a rich history of innovation and creativity, the city has become a hub for the digital industries, with the V&A Museum of Design being one of the most popular attractions. 

With so much culture and history (plus, it’s super affordable compared to other Scottish cities), it’s a no brainer that Dundee is one of the best places to live in Scotland, and the UK.

Leith, Edinburgh

Dean Village along the river Water of Leith in Edinburgh

Leith is a port area in the north of Edinburgh and one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the UK. In the 18th century, it was a busy port with huge ships bursting with wool, wine, spices and raw materials. Today, it’s a trendy area boasting its own distinct characters. The great thing about Leith is that it’s its own area, but benefits from all that Edinburgh has to offer. 

One of these things is Edinburgh’s excellent transport links. The neighbourhood itself is only 12 minutes drive to the centre of Edinburgh, where you’ll find two mainline stations as well as Edinburgh Airport on the outskirts of town. 

Leith is a great place to bring the kids up. While the kids will benefit from a wide selection of schools in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, Leith has plenty of things to keep the whole family entertained. There are plenty of open spaces and walks, such as Leith Links and the Water of Leith Walkway.

Plus, there’s always something happening in the neighbourhood. The Leith Festival combines eight days of theatre, music and arts, and is definitely not one to miss. You’ll find the Biscuit Factory, an arts and fashion hub, Leith Theatre and The Pitt, a street food market with live music.

Speaking of food, the food and drink scene in Leith is second to none. As well as Michelin starred restaurants, there are also traditional pubs, delis, bistros and plenty of the famous Leith seafood.

Dunblane, Stirling

Dunblane Town Centre Scotland

Dunblane is a town in central Scotland. Just a 10 minute drive north of Stirling, Dunblane is a commuter town. It has easy access to the A9, with Glasgow and Edinburgh commutable by car.

The train station offers regular links to Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as Stirling and Perth. But Dunblane is far from being a shoddy commuter town. Its safe and friendly community, reputable schools, central location, and attractive surrounding countryside make it a great place to live. 

Dunblane is a fantastic environment to raise a family. The low crime rates and community spirit make it a great place for families. There is also an excellent choice of schools, from primary schools through to high schools. Plus, the University of Stirling is only a short distance away. 

There are tons of activities and events to get involved in Dunblane. You’ll find local sports clubs, youth clubs and voluntary groups. You also have the great outdoors on your doorstep, and there are woodland walks and biking trails in Laighills Park and Sherrifmuir. An hour’s drive away is the Trossachs National Park. 

The town itself has an excellent range of local shops and a fabulous selection of bars and eateries. There are also some historical gems, like the Leighton Library and the best-known feature of the town, the impressive 13th-century cathedral.

Wales

Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan

Cowbridge is a market town in the Vale of Glamorgan. Dating back to Roman times, it’s one of the few medieval walled towns in Wales.

Full of history, quaint old buildings and surrounded by rolling Welsh countryside, it’s no wonder that Cowbridge is such an attractive place to live.

What’s more, Cowbridge has great transport links, which makes it a popular commuter town. It’s about a 25-minute drive to Cardiff, with the nearest train station, Bridgend, only six miles away. 

If you’re moving with the family, Cowbridge Comprehensive School is one of the best performing secondary schools in Wales. There is also a nursery and primary school in the area.

If you’re a shopaholic, you’ll love Cowbridge. It’s been dubbed the ‘Bond Street of Wales’ for its unique blend of shops and boutiques, whether it’s fashion, furniture, vintage items, gifts or food. When it comes to food and drink, Cowbridge doesn’t disappoint. There are plenty of country pubs, restaurants and cafes to refuel. 

For a small town, there’s a surprising amount of things to do. You have St Quentin’s Castle, Old Beaupre Castle, Cowbridge Physic Garden, South Wales Aviation Museum. Nearby, you’ll find the National Trust Dyffryn Gardens. Cowbridge is only a 20 minute drive to Nash Point, a headland and beach with an iconic lighthouse.

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Boats in the bay at low tide with town view in Tenby bay, Wales

Tenby is a harbour town in the southwest of the country, and arguably one of the best seaside towns in Wales.

This isn’t the place to live if you want to be in the thick of it. It’s a relaxed, peaceful place that is perfect for people looking for a slower pace of life. Having said that, it’s not completely out of the way. There are rail services to Pembroke, Carmarthen and Swansea. A drive to Swansea is about an hour and a half. 

There are a selection of primary schools, and one secondary school, so it may be something to think about if you’re moving with teenagers. However, there is plenty to keep the kids (and the adults) entertained.

When it comes to beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From family-friendly beaches to secluded beaches, there’s something for everyone.

Walkers will love Tenby, as there are countless coastal walks right from the town. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the most scenic routes, a 4.5-mile walk with panoramic views. Caldey Island is only 20 minutes away by boat and is the perfect getaway. 

Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Abergavenny Town, Wales

Abergavenny is a market town in Monmouthshire and is nicknamed ‘The Gateway to Wales’. Surrounded by seven mountains, it’s the perfect base for exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. 

If you’re thinking of moving here, one of the first things you’re going to want to know is if it’s well connected. The answer is yes! By train, Cardiff is only 40 minutes away, Newport is 25 minutes and Hereford is 24 minutes. Sounds perfect. But what about schools? Abergavenny has a selection of highly rated primary schools, and one secondary school. 

The town is an excellent place to raise a family, and has tons of things for kids to explore. Aside from attractions like Abergavenny Castle and Museum, the town is surrounded by historical gems like Llanthony Priory. Being right on the doorstep to the mountains also means there’s a wealth of activities like hiking, walking, cycling and climbing. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Abergavenny. This lively town is famous for its annual food festival, which transforms the town’s streets into a huge buffet of food stalls, chef demonstrations and entertainment for two days each September. There are also regular food and craft markets which attract the best artisan producers. Sugar Loaf Vineyard overlooks the town, and you can drop in to sample some of the finest Welsh wine.

Northern Ireland

Holywood, Co Down

The Dirty Duck restaurant and pub n Holywood County Down

Holywood (not a typo!) is a town in the metropolitan area of Belfast, which lies on the shores of the Belfast Lough. It’s the perfect combination of seaside and city, with the vibrant Belfast only a short train journey away.

Only 11 minutes drive from Belfast, Holywood benefits from all the great transport connections that the city has. Belfast has rail and road connections with towns and cities in Northern Ireland, and Belfast Airport has flights to over 70 destinations. 

Families thinking of moving to Holywood will benefit from a wide selection of schools, an abundance of green areas, stunning views and a chic town centre.

The town centre is a real hub of activity, with an emphasis on independent shops and boutiques, elegant eateries and traditional pubs. The town’s Victorian appeal has been perfectly preserved, but with all the modern amenities you could wish for. 

There are plenty of sporting facilities and local parks which is perfect for those with an active lifestyle. If you fancy getting out on the water, the Holywood Yacht Club is one of the oldest yacht clubs in Ireland, catering for all levels and abilities.

Ballycastle, Co Antrim

Boats in the bay at low tide with town view in Tenby bay, Wales

Ballycastle is a lively seaside town in County Antrim, situated on the north-easternmost tip of Ireland. Surrounded by the sea, glens, forests and ancient rock, the town is a beautiful place to set up home. It’s also a short drive from the iconic Giant’s Causeway.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be excited to know that Ballycastle and the surrounding area was used as filming locations. Never watched Game of Thrones? Not to worry. You can still enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of the place.

Some of the most popular attractions include Ballycastle Beach, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Rathlin Island and the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

The town itself has a rich history with over 50 listed buildings within the ‘18th Century Conservation Area’. It blends old and new, with its very own Blue Flag Marina situated within the inner harbour.

There are several primary and secondary schools in Ballycastle and the surrounding area, so it’s an ideal location for families. Although trains don’t come near Ballycastle, Belfast or Derry are just over an hour’s (very scenic) drive. 

Hillsborough, Co Down

Landscape view of Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland

Hillsborough is a village in County Down, only 19km from Belfast. It’s the ideal place to be if you want to live in a quiet and peaceful setting without being too far from the city and all its amenities.

The excellent location has resulted in Hillsborough becoming part of the commuter belt of Belfast. This also works well if you have kids, because even though there are several primary schools in and around Hillsborough, Belfast is just 20 minutes by car and has a wealth of schools to choose from.  

Kids will find it pretty difficult to be bored in Hillsborough. Despite its size, the village has a lot to offer when it comes to outdoor activities. Hillsborough Forest offers 150 acres of mixed woodland to explore. Fancy a boat trip? The village is also only a half hour’s drive to the Lough Neagh lake.

The town itself has an array of cheerful shops and cafes to enjoy. It’s also home to the International Oyster Festival which happens every year, and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Many people think of the village as Northern Ireland’s answer to the Cotswolds, due its picturesque scenery and significant amounts of Georgian architecture. Speaking of architecture, the nearby Hillsborough Castle and Gardens is home to visiting royals, so if it’s good enough for the royals then it’s good enough for us. 

Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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