Last updated: 22 Sep 2015

Top 20 places in England and Wales for families

The map shows the top 20 ranked hotspots throughout England and Wales. In total, 71 different sets of data across six criteria (education, childcare, safety, property, amenities and population) were analysed for each location and attributed either a positive or negative score. An overall score for each postcode was then calculated giving us the top 20 for 2015.


  1.   Wokingham, Berkshire, RG41
  2.   Winscombe, Somerset, BS25
  3.   Faringdon, Oxfordshire, SN7
  4.   Oakham, Rutland, LE15
  5.   Lower Earley, Berkshire, RG6
  6.   Longridge, Lancashire, PR3
  7.   Shebbear, Devon, EX21
  8.   St Bees, Cumbria, CA27
  9.   Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10
  10.   Cheadle, Staffordshire, ST10
  1.   Carterton, Oxfordshire, OX18
  2.   Cullompton, Devon, EX15
  3.   Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 
  4.   Crediton, Devon, EX17
  5.   Fleet, Hampshire, GU51
  6.   Colyton, Devon, EX24
  7.   Bury, Lancashire, BL8
  8.   Shotley Gate, Suffolk, IP9
  9.   Driffield, Yorkshire, YO25
  10.   Burscough, Lancashire, L40
This list is only part of the picture. To get a more detailed view of how each postcode scored on the six different criteria, the postcode comparison calculator can show you.

1. Wokingham, Berkshire (RG41)

Wokingham, Berkshire, selected number 1 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Motacilla (Wikimedia).

With a population of over 28,000, Wokingham is an historic market town in Berkshire, situated just 33 miles west of central London. Since first appearing in the Hotspots Top 20 in 2012 where it took the top slot, Wokingham has enjoyed a permanent place within the top 10. Records show that it held its first market in 1219 and today it’s well equipped with attractive facilities which include a number of above average performing primary and secondary schools, several churches and an art gallery. As the birthplace of celebrity singer Will Young, Wokingham is no stranger to fame having also featured in a number of film and TV productions including, Primeval, Superman and The Vicar of Dibley. With trains to Waterloo taking just a little over an hour, it’s an ideal home for commuters. This may explain the affluence of the area as the average salary is £27,362. This combined with its very low crime rates means it’s a very popular area for families with children of all ages.

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2. Winscombe, Somerset (BS25)

Winscombe, Somerset, selected number 2 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by DBown100.

The village of Winscombe is in North Somerset, set on the edge of the Mendip Hills - mentioned in a number of Thomas Hardy novels - and is a stone’s throw from the famous Cheddar Gorge. Notable landmarks include the 12th Century Church in the village square and a charming family pub, The Woodborough Inn, with its skittle alley and family friendly dining rooms. It has a collection of local shops and businesses in its centre, along with two schools near the recreation ground. Each performed well above the national average at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 level. Winscombe also boasts an enviable level of Early Years Childcare, with nearly 40% rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Above average salaries and low crime rates also help to move Winscombe into second position this year.

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3. Faringdon, Oxfordshire (SN7)

Faringdon, Oxfordshire, selected number 3 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Reading Tom (Flickr).

A market town in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, Faringdon holds onto the Family Hotspots’ third place again this year, thanks to the number of high scoring pre-schools and preparatory schools. Sitting at the top of the Thames Valley, the town is nestled around the Parish Church dating from the 13th century. Indeed, legend has it that King Alfred (Alfred the Great) died in Faringdon. Along with a leisure centre, a short stroll away you’ll find open fields and a network of footpaths to nearby villages. Faringdon became the first Fairtrade town in the South East of England in 2004 and has since held an annual arts festival in early July. A range of clubs and activities for families, above average salaries, and the price for a two bedroom home only slightly above the national average at £202,845, make Faringdon an attractive location for families.

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4. Oakham, Rutland (LE15)

Oakham, Rutland, selected number 4 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Simon Garbutt.

Within commuting distance of Leicester and with a population of around 32,000, Oakham, is a site of great historic interest. It is home to the 14th Century All Saints Church, in the heart of the town, which is the largest Church in the smallest county, and it’s also home to the remains of the Norman Oakham Castle and the Rutland County Museum. Its popularity with families is partly explained by the affordable housing and low crime rates. It has a solid sporting pedigree with both Oakham United playing in league football and an Oakham Rugby Union team. England cricketer Stuart Broad started his professional career playing cricket for Leicestershire, the team attached to his school, Oakham School, and became only the fifth England bowler to reach 300 wickets this year. With the price of a two bedroom property well below the national average at £166,947 and average salaries being higher, this is a great location for families.

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5. Lower Earley, Berkshire (RG6)

Lower Earley, Berkshire, selected number 5 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Rosalind Mitchell.

Slipping down a place in the table this year, Lower Earley is a suburb to the east of Reading. Established in 1977, its origins are recorded in the Doomsday book. With good Key Stage 2 and 4 results, Lower Earley is popular both with commuters to London and those working in nearby Reading looking for a family friendly place to live. This is probably reflected in the higher than average salaries for residents. House prices are above the national average at £253,683 for a two bedroom home, and means Lower Earley is catching up with the other popular commuter towns in the area. Local parks, a lake, leisure centres and a local pub with a regular quiz night contribute to the community feel. The Lower Earley Library holds regular storytelling sessions for babies, toddlers and under-fives, and includes Dad and Baby Rhymetime sessions.

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6. Longridge, Lancashire (PR3)

Longridge, Lancashire, selected number 6 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Kevin Hale.

It’s the third time Longridge, which is in the Ribble Valley just south of the Forest of Bowland, has been in the Hotspots’ chart, first featuring at number 11 in 2013, then number eight in 2014. Longridge continues to boast above average education with excellent Key Stage 2 results. Property prices have gone up slightly and are broadly in line with the area’s average salaries making it a popular choice. Originally a quarry town, Longridge’s appearance has changed significantly in recent years as a result of new housing developments. With a population of nearly 38,000, the town has all the amenities a family could need. Nine pubs and a variety of restaurants provide a range of choice for meals out while Longridge also has a public library and several primary and high schools. The monthly farmers’ market attracts food lovers and locals gather for the annual ‘Field Day’ with a parade and fundraising attractions.

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7. Shebbear, Devon (EX21)

Shebbear, Devon, selected number 7 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Martin Bodman.

Shebbear, a rural village in Devon with a small but thriving community of nearly 5,000 people, appeared in the Top 20 in 2012 but had dropped out in recent years as property prices in the South East continued to rise and the focus moved northwards. It has one of the highest concentrations of Early Years Childcare settings, ranked ‘outstanding’ in the country and the primary school in the centre of the village is also a real focal point for the community. The village centre is the focal point for the ‘Turning of the Devil’s Stone’ which happens every November 5th. Supposedly the devil dropped it when fighting with God, he lost and the stone fell on top of him flattening him underneath. Tradition has it that disaster will fall on the village if it isn’t turned once a year re-trapping him below. Perhaps this diligence to tradition of warding off evil is why it’s also fortunate to have the lowest crime rate recorded for any postcode in the Top 20.

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8. St Bees, Cumbria (CA27)

St Bees, Cumbria, selected number 8 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Sumanah (Wikimedia).

Last year’s number one postcode was St Bees, a small coastal village just south of St Bees Head, the most westerly point of Cumbria and 50 miles from the Scottish border. The picturesque village has a population of 1,800 and has been a popular holiday destination for over 150 years. St Bees was a new addition to the Family Hotspots list in 2014, thanks in part to its low crime rate, higher than average salaries at £26,140 and lower than average prices for a two bed property of £141,204. The village has a thriving community spirit, with local sports clubs and community events such as the Village Fete and the Annual Show of flowers, vegetables and home produce, which takes place every August, and the Tractor Trundle, a vintage tractor procession, which takes place on Boxing Day every year. Rowan Atkinson is a former pupil of St Bees School, which continues its strong dramatic tradition with regular performances for the community.

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9. Middlewich, Cheshire (CW10)

Middlewich, Cheshire, selected number 9 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Des Blenkinsopp.

It’s a first appearance in the list this year for Middlewich, a market town in the county of Cheshire, which dates back to the time of Roman occupation. Running through the centre of town is the Shropshire Union Canal, which originated as a gateway for the transport of clay to the potteries and crockery for export. These days the canal is a popular leisure destination for families who can enjoy a walk or ride along the cycle paths or a gentle cruise aboard one of the many longboats that travel along the canal. With a population of slightly over 14,000, Middlewich is only 19 miles from the city of Chester and has easy links to Manchester and Liverpool, both being under an hour away via the M6 making it an attractive location for commuters. With Key Stage 4 results above average and the price of a two bedroom property well below the average, Middlewich, is a great new entry in the Top 20 for 2015.

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10. Cheadle, Staffordshire (ST10)

Cheadle, Staffordshire, selected number 10 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by gpmg (Wikimedia).

Halfway between Manchester and Birmingham, Cheadle is a market town of 25,000 people. Its location is ideal for commuters to Birmingham and Manchester as they are just under 50 miles away. Its 42 acres of landscaped lakes attracts a number of different species of wildfowl and is a popular destination for both visitors and residents. Those who want to go a little further afield will appreciate the proximity to the Peak District and the Churnet Valley. Cheadle boasts a very low crime rate and above average Key Stage 2 and 4 school results. While average salaries are a fraction below the national level, two bed properties are available for £125,695, below the average, making the town an affordable choice for young families. The local football, golf, cricket and running clubs, provide plenty of activities for families while there are a number of parks and wildlife attractions within a few miles.

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11. Carterton, Oxfordshire (OX18)

Carterton, Oxfordshire, selected number 11 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Martin Loeder.

The second largest town in West Oxfordshire with a population of 25,000, Carterton is probably most recognised for its proximity to RAF Brize Norton, where a new memorial garden has been built near the town to offer a place for mourning for families of military personnel who are repatriated through the airfield. Being only 14 miles from the famous University town of Oxford, families have easy access to the county’s multitude of museums and historical attractions. Standards of education are also very good with average scores at both Key Stage 2 & Key Stage 4 exceeding the national average. Salaries in Carterton are above the national average at £23,447, however the price for an average two bed property is also higher at £234,146.

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12. Cullompton, Devon (EX15)

Cullompton, Devon, selected number 12 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales

Photograph by NHSavage (Wikimedia).

A mid-Devon town with a population of 21,000, Cullompton is popular with commuters having a direct and frequent train service to both Exeter and Bristol and speedy access to the M5. Mentioned by King Alfred in his will, the town showed first signs of occupancy in Roman times with two forts situated just above it. Nowadays there is an active local community, the town centre being host to the oldest farmers’ market in the South West. Young children love the local Diggerland with its tractor and digger rides, whilst adventurous parents can take it to a whole new level with digger racing parties for over 17s only. Despite the number of commuters, the average salary is still below the national average at £18,938. Property is still affordable with a two bedroom home being just £160,271, nearly £40,000 below the national average. Benefitting from milder weather and having great Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 results, it is a popular place for families to settle.

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13. Clitheroe, Lancashire (BB7)

Clitheroe, Lancashire, selected number 13 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Lux01 (Wikimedia).

A classic Lancashire market town, Clitheroe is home to 14,000 people and lies in the Ribble Valley just south of the Forest of Bowland. The town has a thriving sense of community with annual Spring and Food festivals, several sports and activity clubs and an annual cycle race. The Ribble Valley Jazz Festival is also held each year in the town. The love of food runs strongly in the town, especially when it comes to sausages with an annual Sausage Day in January and the well-known Cowman’s Sausage Shop selling over 70 varieties! Children will also enjoy exploring the local castle, while parents will be impressed by the above average school scores, especially for the town’s three secondary schools. House prices are also below the national average with a two bed home costing £140,000 despite salaries being at about the national average.

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14. Crediton, Devon (EX17)

Crediton, Devon, selected number 14 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by John Spivey.

The third Devon town to appear in the Top 20 this year is Crediton, with a population of 19,000. The average value of a two bedroom property is below the national average at £170,678 but that’s mirrored by salaries being lower at £18,938. The town is situated in the vale of the River Creedy and is home to the Creedy Lakes where walkers and families enjoy the beautiful country setting and keen fishermen line the shore to catch the carp. The Doomsday survey of 1086 recorded that much of the land was still uncultivated and occupation of the town didn’t exist until around 1269. Low crime rates and above average school results at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4, makes this West Country town a good location to raise a family.

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15. Fleet, Hampshire (GU51)

Fleet, Hampshire, selected number 15 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Thirty-six miles south west of London is the town of Fleet in Hampshire. With a population of 23,000 it’s a popular choice with families of all ages. Sitting in the M3 corridor it is accessible to bigger cities for those wanting to commute, Fleet railway station being on the Waterloo to Southampton main line. With an affluent population the average salary is £30,020, however, this does mean that access to affordable property suffers, with an average two bedroom property being higher than the national average at £262,553. Education is a big draw for families with a good selection of high performing schools delivering above average Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 results. Despite its size, Fleet has a strong community which organises a diverse range of annual festivities including a Beer Festival, the Fleet Food Festival, an impressive fireworks display, and the Fleet Half Marathon which is a popular pre-London Marathon training run.

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16. Colyton, Devon (EX24)

Colyton, Devon, selected number 16 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Ray Stanton

Colyton is a small town on the south coast of Devon with a population of just 3,789. It had an early reputation of being the most rebellious town in Devon in the 17th Century due to the number of residents who took part in the Monmouth Rebellion. Crime rates are amongst the lowest in the Top 20. With easy access to both countryside and the coast Colyton, has family friendly attractions for all ages on its doorstep including the Axe Valley Wildlife Park, the Seaton Tramway and the Beer Heights Light Railway with wonderful views over Lyme Bay to Portland Bill. Established in 1546 Colyton Grammer School in Colyford has an enviable record of high ranking results at Key Stage 4 level, with an average 99% of pupils achieving grades A*-C this year. Average house prices are slightly above the norm at £216,962 and salaries only slightly below at £19,932 making it an affordable choice.

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17. Bury, Lancashire (BL8)

Bury, Lancashire, selected number 17 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Dennis Taylor (Wikimedia).

On the banks of the River Irwell in Greater Manchester is the market town of Bury. Located on the edge of the West Pennines, access to Leeds, Preston and Liverpool is under an hour via motorway. The Manchester Metrolink tram enables easy and convenient access to Manchester. This proximity to towns with higher employment opportunities mean that the average annual salary is relatively high at £21,684 compared to the price of a two bed property at £115,044. With crime rates below average at 0.13%, it’s fitting that a monument to one of Bury’s most famous residents, Sir Robert Peel, former Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police, stands outside the parish church. Recent investment has seen the development of a network of characterful, independent shopping at the Rock along with the famous Bury market, renowned for its black pudding. The education infrastructure is solid across all age ranges, with a variety of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ early years childcare settings and Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 results consistently above the national average.

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18. Shotley Gate, Suffolk (IP9)

Shotley Gate, Suffolk, selected number 18 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Oxymoron (Wikimedia).

On the East Anglian flats, Shotley Gate is a coastal village at the tip of the Shotley peninsula where the Rivers Stour and Orwell open to the sea. With a strong naval and nautical history the area held a strategic position for protecting the ports of Ipswich, Felixstowe and Harwich. Around 800 AD Vikings and Danes moved into the area putting it under Danish law, and even beat Alfred King of Wessex in a desperate battle fought in the village. The area is also famous as the home of the Royal Navy’s ‘HMS Ganges’ training school from 1821 to 1976 which is now a museum showcasing artefacts and memorabilia from its naval past. Nowadays the town has a population of 11,000 and is a popular destination for tourists and walkers. Salaries in Shotley Gate are slightly below average at £20,181. Likewise house prices for a two bed property are an average £191,178. Schools in the area also have a good reputation with results at both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 higher than the national average.

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19. Driffield, Yorkshire (YO25)

Driffield, Yorkshire, selected number 19 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Paul Glazzard.

Set on the Driffield Navigation canal and near the mouth of the river Hull sits the rural market town of Driffield in the Yorkshire Wolds. A bustling town of 33,000 people Driffield is the cultural capital of the Wolds with the local parish All Saints Church dating back to the 12th Century. More recently, it’s renowned as the birthplace of Mick Woodmansy, the famed drummer with David Bowie’s Spiders and the Slaughterhouse Studios also recorded the legendary Happy Mondays’ second album in 1988. There’s lots for families to do with local junior football and rugby clubs and the recent relocation of the Yorkshire Wolds Running Club to Driffield leisure centre. Property prices are comfortably below average at £128,354, whilst salaries are only fractionally below average at £21,720. School performance is strong with above average results at both Key Stage 2 and 4 levels.

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20. Burscough, Lancashire (L40)

Burscough, Lancashire, selected number 20 in Hotspots best places to raise a family in England & Wales.

Photograph by Small-town hero.

A large village in West Lancashire with a little over 18,000 people, Burscough is a new face in the Top 20 this year. The town has one secondary school, Burscough Priory Science College which achieved specialist school status in science, and a string of primaries. It also enjoys a very low crime rate. The Leeds and Liverpool canal runs through the village and is the site of a small retail and leisure development known as Burscough Wharf, which features a number of arts, craft and hobby shops. Families can enjoy a day out at Martin Mere a large wildfowl reserve and visitor attraction on the edge of the village. Property prices are well below the national average with a two bed costing £159,311 though average wages are high at £22,662, suggesting strong employment opportunities.

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Because of the way the differences in the way data such as crime and education statistics are reported and collated in Scotland and Northern Ireland, we unfortunately couldn’t find an accurate way of including it this time around. Postcodes without a residential population such as business parks and warehouse areas were also discounted from the final results. If your postcode is not coming up in this search, we suggest you try your next closest postcode.