What do people look for in their new home?
When quizzed on the most desirable traits a property can have, our respondents' top answers were a good location, a garden and affordability.
In fact, over half (55%) say location is one of the top factors when choosing a new home, though this could mean a number of different things to different people. Delving a little deeper, we found that affordable property prices, low crime rate and green spaces are some of the top things that make a location particularly attractive to relocators. This said, only 80% say they would visit an area before moving there, with the remaining 20% happy to wing it based on online research, or none at all.
But, have priorities changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? 37% of Brits reckon so. After spending a significant amount of time at home over the past year, 1 in 10 would like to move somewhere with more space and another 1 in 10 want a garden or balcony. With many people working from home for long periods of time, space is of utmost importance - and you certainly can't underestimate the value of fresh air!
The most affordable areas
Affordability is evidently a crucial detail in choosing a new home, with 42% rating it as one of the top three most important things to consider. While people's budgets can differ, there are a few factors that can determine the affordability of an area.
Combining information about house price, cost of rent, cost of living and weekly earnings, London is unsurprisingly the most expensive place to live. Here, a 3-bed property will set you back an average of £639k to buy or £2,000 a month to rent. Average weekly earnings are slightly higher than most of the UK at £716, though this isn't enough to balance out the steep living costs.
At the other end of the scale, Derby ranks as the most affordable place to live, with property prices averaging at £165,000 to buy a 3-bed or £674 per month to rent. Weekly earnings also average at a healthy £779 a week, which are notably higher than London's.
The safest settings
Nobody wants to live in a high-crime area, but is it something that people actively consider before moving? For most, it would appear so. Safety came in second on our list of the most desirable traits an area can have, with 31% choosing it in their top three things they look for in a location. What's more, 67% of respondents said they would pay more to live in a low crime area.
So where are some good options? Based on crime rate, York, Poole and Swindon are some of the safest places to live on our list. Unfortunately, Middlesbrough, Manchester and Kingston Upon Hull gain the lowest spots for their higher crime rates.
The work-life hives
If career opportunities and work-life balance are influential factors in choosing where to live, Gloucester, Stoke-on-Trent and Bradford and are strong contenders.
Gloucester has one of the highest employment rates, gaining it a top spot on the list, as well as fast internet download speed and a reasonable average work commute length and cost. Meanwhile, Bradford and Stoke-on-Trent scored well for having some of the shortest commute times in the UK. For the 42% who said they would happily pay more to live near work, this could be appealing.
On the flip side, London, Sunderland and Newcastle rank at the bottom of the list for work-life, with London having the longest and most costly average commute, as well as a below average employment rate. Sunderland and Newcastle also gained their low positions on the list for being among the locations with the slowest internet (40mbps).
The greenest grounds
Green spaces are certainly a desirable thing to have in your local area, not least during pandemic restrictions when a walk in the park could be the highlight of your daily routine. Plus, if you have pets it could be an essential on your new home checklist. 66% of our respondents said they would happily spend a bit more to live near green spaces, proving they can be a deciding factor for an area.
Based on the number of parks and the level of pollution combined, London, Preston and Swansea topped the list for greenery. While London is one of the most polluted cities in the UK (beaten only by Wolverhampton), it redeemed itself with its 279 major parks – not mentioning the smaller green spaces scattered around the capital. Preston on the other hand, is the second least polluted of the towns and cities on our list, and has 16 parks, while Swansea ranks sixth for low pollution and has 37 parks.
The ‘happening' hotspots
For those with children, or planning a family, having good schools in the area is certainly a plus – if not a requirement. We looked at which towns and cities have the most schools rated ‘outstanding' by OFSTED, for which London, Birmingham and Liverpool came out on top.
We also assessed each location based on the availability of other facilities, such as food shops and gyms to rank the list according to amenities in the local area. Overall, London, Newcastle and Bristol ranked highest, also topping the list for the most gyms, so these cities could be where fitness fanatics find themselves most at home.
Looking for somewhere that will keep you entertained? London, Liverpool and Birmingham rank highest for the most restaurants and things to do, meaning there will never be a dull moment!
A closer look at London
While London featured in the UK index for its overall credentials, the capital is a large and diverse city with each borough offering different things. Our London index breaks things down by borough, so you can find a more specific area that suits you if residing in the Big Smoke.
Looking for affordable rent? You might want to check out Bexley. If you're in the market to buy, however, Barking and Dagenham should be on your radar for affordable property prices. In terms of safety and health, Richmond upon Thames ranks highest for its low crime rate and for its number of green spaces. But if having lots of restaurants and things to do on your doorstep is a priority, you'll have to head a little further into the city. The City of London ranks highest in this area, but it comes with a hefty price tag, with a 3-bed property costing an average of £1.75 million!
This index was created to measure how the UK's major towns and cities compare when it comes to the various factors people consider when moving home – affordability (house price, rent price, cost of living, weekly earnings), safety (crime rate), work life (avg. commute time and cost, internet download speed, employment rate), greenery (number of green spaces, pollution, air quality), amenities (grocery stores, schools, gyms), and activities (restaurants, things to do).
Locations were chosen based on the 50 most populated towns and cities in the UK, using 2019 data from Nomis.
To make a comparable quantification of how each location faired based on the various factors, we formulated a ranking system that awarded each location a score from 1-10 based on how they rated for each factor. A low score indicates that that the location doesn't rate well in the specified area, with each increasing number signifying a more positive rating. Each country was awarded a score for each of the sub-categories measured (affordability, safety, work life, greenery, amenities and activities), based on totals calculated from scores for each individual factor falling under the category. We were only able to give a score where data was available. If there was no data available, we awarded it a score of 0.
Each score was obtained using the raw data via this formula:
Score(i) = 10 * ( ( (x(i) - x(min) ) / ( (x(max) - x(min) ) )
- Population, employment rate - https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/
- Property prices, rent prices - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23234033
- Avg. weekly earnings - https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/annualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2020
- Cost of living, cost of commuting - https://www.numbeo.com/
- OFSTED outstanding schools - https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/
- Crime rate - https://www.police.uk/pu/your-area/greater-manchester-police/performance/compare-your-area/
- Commute times - https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/annual-commuting-time-21-hours-compared-decade-ago-finds-tuc
- Internet download speeds - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2019/data-downloads
- Pollution - https://www.numbeo.com/pollution/
- Air quality in London - https://londonist.com/london/news/most-highest-pollution-toxic-london-boroughs
- Number of parks, restaurants, ‘things to do' - https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/
- Number of food shops, gyms, London restaurants by borough - https://www.google.co.uk/maps
- London underground stations - https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/boroughs-most-least-london-underground-17346044