How to decide where to live UK

Last updated: December 2023 | 4 min read

Considering a move within the UK? This concise guide delves into choosing a locality, balancing financial aspects with your lifestyle. It aligns with broader themes like costs of buying a house, offering insights into finding the perfect home and proof of funds. Discover essential tips for a smooth, well-informed relocation across the UK.

Why does finding the perfect location matter?

Choosing your next place of residence is about more than just bricks and mortar. A home's surroundings deeply influence daily routines, overall happiness, and life quality. Consider the amenities, work-life balance, and other factors that play a part in day-to-day contentment.

Assess your financial capacity

Knowing your budget is the starting point of any property search. In the UK, variations in property prices across regions can be stark. By understanding regional differences and local property trends, you can determine where your money might go the furthest.

House prices in different regions

In the UK, average house price variations can be substantial between regions. Factors such as employment rates, local amenities, and even the historical appeal of an area play a role in property valuation.

North east vs north west: a comparison

While both the north east and north west offer a rich tapestry of history and culture, there are distinctions in their property landscapes.

Typically, the north west, with cities like Manchester, has seen a faster rate of property price growth compared to the north east. However, the north east, with areas like Newcastle, often offers more affordable property options, especially for first-time buyers.

Affordable vs up and coming areas

Affordable areas might not always be the best bet for long-term investment. Instead, consider regions dubbed "up and coming." These areas, often on the cusp of wider redevelopment or gaining popularity among young professionals, might offer the best of both worlds: affordability now and potential price growth in the future. Engage with estate agents or buying agents for insights on these blossoming regions.

Commute considerations

Train stations and public transport significantly shape the daily lives of many in the UK. Here's a closer look at factors to keep in mind when considering your commute.

Proximity to train stations

Living close to a train station has clear benefits. Easy access to stations means a swifter route to major cities, making daily commutes or occasional trips more manageable. Plus, properties near train stations tend to see a positive effect on their value. To get started:

  1. Browse property websites to pinpoint locations near stations.

  2. Evaluate the frequency and timing of trains, especially during peak hours.

  3. Consider the train line's destinations – does it connect to cities or locations you frequent?

  4. Check potential noise pollution from trains, especially if the property is very close to the tracks.

Public transport accessibility

Many rely on buses, trams, or the underground for their day-to-day commutes. Weighing these options can save time and reduce transportation expenses.

Public transport links: buses, trams, and underground

Buses offer flexibility and extensive coverage across most towns and cities. Trams, available in some cities, offer a middle ground between buses and trains. The underground, primarily in London, offers speedy transport across the city. To assess these options:

  1. Identify the nearest bus stop or tram station from the property. Is it a short walk away?

  2. For those in London or planning to relocate there, proximity to an underground station can be a big factor.

  3. Consult local area timetables to determine frequency and routes of public transport options.

  4. Take note of any new developments in public transport – new routes or improvements can boost prices in the local area.

Factor in your daily commute

Your current job location plays a role in deciding where to live. While employment opportunities may lead you to a new neighbourhood, the reality of daily commutes can't be ignored.

  1. Measure the actual time it takes from a potential property to your place of work during rush hours. A mere 10 miles can feel much longer during heavy traffic.

  2. Explore different transport connections available. Sometimes, a mix of driving and public transport offers the best solution.

  3. Estimate monthly commuting costs – from fuel or public transport tickets to potential tolls or parking fees.

  4. Weigh the trade offs. Is a longer commute worth living in a more affordable area or closer to good schools and green spaces?

When you decide roughly where to set up home, always spend time in the area during your usual commuting hours. This real-life experience might offer surprising insights and influence your decision ultimately.

Amenities and lifestyle fit

While on the hunt for a new home, it's more than just bricks and mortar to think about. The surrounding environment plays a huge part in daily life. A good match with local amenities can uplift daily life, offering convenience, recreation, and a sense of community.

Walking distance to local shops and shopping centres

Living close to nearby shops and shopping centres brings an ease to daily routines. Think about those times you just want a pint of milk, a newspaper, or even a last-minute gift. Being in close proximity to shopping centres can save you an awful lot of time. And for those who love a retail therapy session, having a range of shopping options on your doorstep is a definite plus.

Access to green spaces and parks

Feeling the grass underfoot or taking a leisurely stroll can rejuvenate the spirit. Having access to green spaces provides a breath of fresh air, both figuratively and literally.

Consider whether you can easily reach a park for a Sunday picnic, a morning jog, or just a place where kids can stretch their legs. These open spaces often become community hubs, perfect for meeting neighbours and making friends.

Gyms, sports facilities, and recreational spots nearby

Staying active can play a major part in overall well-being. It's much easier to commit to that spin class or swimming session when the facility is just around the corner.

Evaluate the nearby amenities to determine if there's a gym nearby that matches your workout preferences. Beyond that, look out for local sports clubs or recreational areas – they offer not only a chance to stay fit but also to integrate with the local community.


Quality of local schools

Good schools often top the list for those deciding where to live in the UK. A school's reputation, facilities, and outcomes can have a considerable influence on property prices, community vibrancy, and the overall desirability of an area.

Primary, secondary, and higher education options

House-hunting parents frequently search for areas with access to quality primary schools. It's the first major step on the educational journey, and a positive experience can set the tone for later academic pursuits. Transitioning to secondary school, young adults seek a conducive learning environment, comprehensive curriculum, and extra-curricular opportunities. For those considering higher education, proximity to renowned universities or colleges might factor into the decision.

When you're researching schools, location presents some practical keywords to consider. "Good school" and "good access" help pinpoint establishments with strong reputations and straightforward commutes. Remember, while academic results matter, factors such as pastoral care, school ethos, and community involvement can equally impact a student's experience.

Catchment areas and school reputation

Catchment areas often influence decisions on where to live in the UK. Living within a specific boundary can be a key factor for admission to a sought-after school. Families should consult the latest catchment maps, bearing in mind that these can change over time. "Schools" and "location" are common terms used by individuals eager to understand catchment dynamics.

The reputation of a school also sways choices. Websites, forums, and local feedback can offer insights into school culture, teaching quality, and student support. Not to be overlooked, Ofsted reports provide an official assessment of a school's performance in key areas.

Incorporating terms like "house prices", "anti social behaviour", and "employment opportunities" into your search can also provide a broader perspective.

It allows you to gauge the impact of schools on property value, local community sentiment, and potential job prospects in the vicinity. Moving for education is a significant step, and understanding the broader context helps ensure you're making the right decision for the long term.

Understanding the local environment

Green areas vs urban settings

When deciding where to live in the UK, the choice often lies between green spaces and urban areas. Green spaces, such as parks and woodlands, offer tranquillity, while urban settings pulse with vibrant city life. While both have their merits, you might value fresh air and nature walks over bustling streets and city attractions.

Or, perhaps the opposite beckons, with the thrill of city life taking precedence. Either way, your decision greatly influences your day-to-day living experience.

Air pollution forecasts and overall air quality

Air pollution in the UK varies, with some areas faring better than others. To stay informed, find air pollution forecasts for areas you're considering. Websites and mobile apps provide daily and hourly forecasts, and can offer insights on the best times for outdoor activities. Keeping an eye on these metrics ensures you’re making health-conscious decisions for yourself and your family.

Lower air quality areas to potentially avoid

Certain urban areas, especially those near busy roads or industrial zones, might exhibit higher levels of air pollution. While the allure of city life or proximity to work might be appealing, consider the potential trade-offs.

Research shows that consistent exposure to elevated pollution levels can have long-term health effects. It's always a good bet to stay informed about these locations when determining your next home.

Local people and community vibe

Each area in the UK has its unique character, influenced by its residents. Engage with locals to gauge the community spirit, or perhaps attend a few community events. Familiarising yourself with the people and community vibe can give you a clearer picture of whether the locality aligns with your personal circumstances and preferences.

Risks to be aware of

Flood risks in the area

The UK's geography exposes certain regions to flood risks. Before making a purchase, research the area's flood history. Local council websites or the Environment Agency's flood risk map are helpful tools.

A house on higher ground or away from water bodies might be a safer option, though it's always worth noting that flood defences and home insurance can positively affect your peace of mind.

Noise levels from nearby roads or flight paths

Noise can be a significant disruptor, especially if your home is near a major road, train station, or flight path. While you might be drawn to an area because of its transport links, weigh the convenience against potential noise disruptions. Websites and mobile apps offer noise pollution maps that give insights into the daily decibel levels in various regions.

Local crime rates and safety

Safety remains a key factor for most when deciding where to live. Fortunately, several online platforms provide up-to-date statistics on crime rates in different areas.

By doing so, you can get a sense of which areas might be more secure than others. Additionally, engaging with locals or even your potential neighbours can provide insights into their experiences and perceptions of safety.

Employment and career opportunities

Job prospects often sway decisions on location. As you decide where to live in the UK, analysing local employment markets becomes a step you cannot ignore. Delving into the job scene can save you time, money, and unnecessary commuting in the future.

Long-term potential and future growth

Looking beyond immediate needs, assessing the future potential of an area is key. Buying a house is a significant commitment, and ensuring the locale holds promise for the future is a consideration that should be on your radar.

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