Where is the best place to live and work in the UK?

Where is the best place to live and work in the UK?

With the Stamp Duty holiday extension and 5% deposit schemes announced during the 2021 Budget, many buyers are looking for a new home. The day of the Budget was Rightmove’s busiest, with over 9 million visits to the site in just 24 hours. But which areas of the UK are the best places to move to?

The team at RM Mortgage Solutions ranked towns and cities across the UK on how attractive they are to people moving, using three key elements commonly used to assess an area – job prospects, affordability and quality of life.

Each of these areas were individually assessed with a total of eight metrics:

  • Job Prospects – the number of roles available, versus the number of residents of working age. A score of 1 means there is one job for every working age person.
  • Affordability – the average monthly wage in the area, versus the average monthly rent in the area. This is summarised using rental costs as a percentage of income.
  • Quality of Life – a score based on how residents in each area feel using four factors – life satisfaction, anxiety, worthwhileness, and happiness. These are ranked and average to create a quality of life score with a maximum of 403.
  • All data is from ONS, Nomis, StatsWales and gov.scot.

The best areas to move to in the UK

1. Warrington

Overall, Warrington, Cheshire tops the list as the best area to move to in the UK. Nestled between Liverpool and Manchester on the River Mersey, the town has a quality of life score of 269/403, job density of 0.69 and low rental costs of £600 – just 23.3% of monthly income is spent on rent. Two airports, two train stations and three motorways mark Warrington as a valuable area for people looking for easy commuting into Liverpool, Manchester and even Sheffield or Leeds, while enjoying lower rental costs, an up and coming town centre and canal-side walks.

2. (tied) Warwick

Overall, Warwick is a prosperous town to move to, with a job density of 1.21 – there are six roles available for every five workers. Quality of life is also highly ranked, with the area scoring 305/403. The ease of access to North-South and East-West motorways has encouraged many companies to set up major offices in Warwick, with National Grid plc, Bravissimo and IBM all operating from major offices near the town. However, these quick links to Birmingham and London have increased the cost of living. Rent is £800 per month, 30.9% of the average salary in the area.

2. (tied) Derby

Derby tops the index, due to low rental costs, and a quality of life score of 213/403. When housing is available for very little rent in most areas, wages are also usually lower than elsewhere. However, Derby bucks this trend, with an average monthly rental cost of just £590 versus a high monthly income of £3,385. This means the average worker spends 17.4% of their salary on rent – the lowest amount in the UK. Sat in the middle of the country, Derby is very well connected with links north and south via the M1 and south-west via the A38. The East Midlands Airport and railways also service the city. As a result, this area is popular with large engineering companies such as Rolls-Royce and Toyota, and great for commuters.

4. Crawley

The town of Crawley is ranked fourth according to the research. Quality of life is rated very highly, with a score of 304/403, and job density is 0.84, below only Warwick in the top five. Situated between Brighton and London, Crawley has great transport links to major hubs of employment. Gatwick airport is also just a few miles from the town, aiding investment in the area, and increasing the ease of catching a flight across the world, or a connecting train servicing the airport into London. The South Downs and High Weald area of outstanding natural beauty are also both within easy reach for residents here. Overall, Crawley marries the quality of life often associated with access to nature and a more relaxed lifestyle, with some of the strongest transport links in the UK. Rent here is inflated by this, however, costing £1,000 per month, 35.3% of the average salary in the area.

5. Tewkesbury

Overall, Tewkesbury places fifth in this roundup. The market town ranks well for quality of life, scoring 265/403, while job density is 0.61, the same as the UK average. Average earnings in this area are above Warrington and Warwick, at £2,623 a month. In comparison, rent is £700, £50 lower than nearby Cheltenham, and equivalent to 26.7% of total earnings. The M5 and M50 pass by Tewkesbury, providing quick connections to Gloucester, Cheltenham and Worcester, along with direct travel to Birmingham and Bristol.  The Cotswolds are on the doorstep of residents here – a great expanse of countryside with highlights such as picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water and freshly brewed Hook Norton beer.

How does London compare?

When averaging quality of life, job density, and affordability across all London Boroughs, London comes in 48th, with more than one job per worker (1.02), high wages of £3,162 per month, but also rental costs of £1,435 per month – 45.4% of the average salary, the highest percentage of any UK city.

The areas with the cheapest rent:

Residents in Derby spend the lowest proportion of their salary on rent

Overall, residents in Derby spend an average of 17.4% of their salary on rent. This is almost half of the UK average across towns and cities, 33.3%. The city is one of the few areas of the UK that strikes a balance between high average salaries and lower rental costs, resulting in the most affordable living.

Hull has the lowest average rent of any UK town/city

On average, rent costs just £412 per month in Hull. This is under half the UK average of £854, and 18% of the average salary in the area. Awarded the title of City of Culture in 2017, Hull has seen plenty of investment over the past decade, with a historic old town, museums and bars/clubs encouraging people moving here to stay.

Where will you pay the most rent?

Residents in Kensington and Chelsea have the highest spend on rent versus monthly income of anywhere in the UK. The average rent costs £2,383 per month, while the standard monthly income is £2,878. This means 82.8% of the average workers’ wages are spent on rent if they live and work in this area. The solution to this is commuting to the area from London Boroughs with much lower rent, or living there and finding higher-paid work in the City of London.

Overall, the UK areas with the highest percentage spend of salary on rent are all in London. In comparison, all of the UK areas where a lower percentage of salary is spent on rent range from Midlands cities such as Stoke-on-Trent and Derby, to further north.

Richard Moring, Director at RM Mortgage Solutions Ltd, has this to say: “It’s really interesting to see how the results vary across the UK. Some places score very well for quality of life, but the cost of living is much higher. At the end of the day, moving location is a balancing act – one area won’t necessarily fulfil everything that you are looking for. Prioritising certain elements, or making a checklist of likes and dislikes that you can tally up, are both great ways to decide if you’d like to live in one area over another.

“Many of the areas ranking highly are well connected and have strong transport links to the largest UK cities. The top five – Warrington, Warwick, Derby, Crawley, and Tewkesbury are all situated near major motorways. You can change many aspects of a property but not the location – or the convenience of the commute.

“If you’re unsure about an area, consider testing the water by renting. A lot of time and money goes into buying a house, from researching lenders to completion. Taking the time to experience an area can be invaluable when deciding which street, part of town or property type you would like to live in.”

About RM Mortgage Solutions Ltd

RM Mortgage Solutions are a firm of mortgage brokers based in the Birmingham area. They provide whole of market advice to individuals on UK mortgages, remortgages, buy to let, protection and general insurance through carefully considering the client’s situation, needs and priorities before making appropriate recommendations. Within their mortgage advice, they offer first time buyer mortgage and home mover mortgage advice. The team at RM Mortgage Solutions also offer advice on equity release and protection. Enquire for further information.

RM Mortgage Solutions Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the FCA register under reference 911918.


View the full dataset here: RM Mortgage Solutions best places to live in the UK Data

  • Job Density data is taken from ONS and nomis datasets
  • Rental costs are taken from ONS, Scottish Government and Stats Wales datasets
  • Quality of Life is taken from ONS datasets
  • Weekly earnings are taken from ONS datasets
  • Any towns or cities without full figures for each category have been excluded from the results