The Family Friendly Hotspots Report
Starting a family can change one's priorities and so the latest Family Friendly Hotspots Report makes interesting reading for anyone who's ever weighed up the pros and cons of one area compared with another. I remember when my first child came along, how a decent place to go for Saturday brunch suddenly became more important than how quick the bus journey into town was, as child-orientated activities overtook going out ones. And even if you're not considering moving, the web tool www.family.co.uk/hotspots means you can see how your area compares with the national average on a number of factors. More importantly, should you be scouting for alternative areas, it allows you to put more weight on some criteria than others to generate the best postcode for your particular needs.
What do parents look for in a family-friendly area?
However, there are generally common aspects that all parents look for in a family-friendly area and so the factors considered include affordability of childcare, local crime figures, property prices and school performance. Yet as any parent of young children will know, happy, day-to-day living involves much more than these bald stats allow. There are myriad of things that make life easier with young children and easy access to like-minded, similar stage parents is part of that, along with the amenities that suddenly become so essential when there are kiddies to entertain through all weathers.
So other considerations have also been added to the mix to determine these hotspots such as the existing population of parents with young children, parks and green spaces, leisure centres, zoos and farms and museums and theatres. For many people, living in a lovely rural location if it is bereft of other young families, would be more of a nightmare than a dream.
This year's list
In this year's list, market town Wokingham in Berkshire comes out as the top spot for families thanks to its Key Stage 2 results, childcare provision and earning prospects (being within commuting distance of London as well as the M4 technology cluster probably helps here).
While the top 20 rankings for family-friendly locations is dominated by rural options – with Devon coming out particularly well with four of the top 20 slots – for many families more urban settings are a preferred, or indeed essential, choice. Which is why the inclusion of a top 20 list of cities and another for commuter towns this year is so pertinent.
The Midlands steal the top spots on the city list with Leicester and then Stoke-on-Trent ranked first and second while commuter towns round Bristol dominate the other table. London is given two tables of its own for inner and outer boroughs.
Written by Jane Bainbridge
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