The best place to raise a family...

Posted in: Family Last updated: 11 Nov 2013

As parents, we know the kind of place we want our children to live in. Yet what makes a town the perfect location is a very personal choice, as our lives and families expand we develop very different tastes and needs. Whether they're cultural, social or political, every family has its own outlook on the factors which make a place family-friendly. However, there are some interesting constants that bond many of us, as our Family Friendly Hotspots report has uncovered.

Our analysis looked at 2,400 postcode districts across England and Wales, to try and find the best places to bring up our children using five key metrics – education, safety, local amenities, property and green spaces.  Whilst we've discovered the top 20 areas around the country to bring up children, the report also gave us some interesting insights into what we view as most important when considering where to raise our families.

The top 20 family towns

The overall winner of our 2013 report was Bingham, a market town in Nottinghamshire apparently boasting the most desirable combination of amenities:

Education: Bingham has excellent teaching standards and results from its four local schools (three primaries and one comprehensive).

Safety: This quiet market town offers safe surroundings and a low crime rate, perfect for families of all ages.

Local amenities: There are plenty of shops and a weekly farmers' market, six local pubs, sports facilities, a swimming pool and a very active Scout Group which attracts 140 youngsters.

Property: The average two-bed property costs £138,969 versus the national average of £173,632.

Green spaces: Set in a relatively rural location, Bingham sits in the middle of classic English countryside, with many trails for walks.

However, not everyone can live in Bingham - nor perhaps want to - so here's the full list of 2013's Top 20 most family-friendly places to live:

1) Bingham, Nottinghamshire
2) Crowthorne, Berkshire
3) Winscombe, Somerset
4) Colyton, Devon
5) Oakham, Rutland
6) Wokingham, Berkshire
7) Poynton, Cheshire
8) Swanland, East Riding of Yorkshire
9) Faringdon, Oxfordshire
10) Dunnington, North Yorkshire
11) Longridge, Lancashire
12) Church Crookham, Hampshire
13) Yarm, North Yorkshire
14) Woodley, Berkshire
15) Shebbear, Devon
16) Leyland, Lancashire
17) Sedbergh, Cumbria
18) Kirkham, Lancashire
19) Kesgrave, Suffolk
20) Buckingham, Buckinghamshire

What do people want?

As we all have different values and a lot of what makes a town more desirable can be very subjective, we wanted to find out precisely what families want more of when choosing where to live, so we asked 456 parents to find out what the most important factors are;

  • 90% of respondents said low crime levels are important in relation to where they live
  • 85% wanted excellent school performance
  • 72% said transport links were integral to their decision
  • 69% were highly concerned about house prices
  • 57% took a major interest in employment rates
  • 47% prioritised childcare costs where they lived

While crime is an obvious bone of contention, employment is not so much of a concern. Perhaps people now have more opportunity for remote working, or are happier to compromise on a long-distance commute, so it's not surprising then that access to transport links has a higher comparative importance than job location.

"It seems that whilst we'd like to create the best environment possible for our children, sadly we can't have it all..."

What do people want to avoid?

When choosing the best place to bring up children in the UK, it seems that our ever-evolving attitudes to health and ecology continue to prey heavily on the consciences of modern families.

  • 93% said they would not choose to live somewhere with poor air quality
  • 64% would not want to live near a wind farm
  • 46% do not want a home without doorstop recycling initiatives

Air quality is an important issue for families, which is perhaps why respondents favour more remote locations. However, these areas are often favoured for wind farms by the government which, while renewable, are still a source of annoyance and fuel debate for nearby residents. An increase in council recycling is also being met with less resistance – indeed, nearly half of the families asked favour rather than avoid these initiatives.

Why would families move home?

Unsurprisingly, three very clear factors are central to prompting a house move: the standard of education, employment opportunities and affordability of housing. A staggering 70% of parents would, or have, moved house in order to get their child into a good school. Job opportunities and affordability of housing (75% and 57% of respondents, respectively) also feature heavily in the decision to move home.

But, when it comes to raising a family, it seems that whilst we'd like to create the best environment possible for our children, sadly we can't have it all, and we're less likely to put priority on some of the softer measures, such as access to GreenFlag Parks, being close to extended family and local amenities like museums. 

Our Hotspots tool is interactive and you can enter your own postcode to see how it compares, and also enter your individual priorities to help you find your ideal location.

Find your perfect postcode »

Written by Lisa Wood

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.