York has topped a new survey of the best towns and cities for families, but the rest of the top 10 is spread far and wide across England.
The past year, with its unusual restrictions, has had a fundamental impact on the way we look at property, with people increasingly giving less thought to commuting and looking instead for more space and, for families, a great environment to bring up children. And when it comes to family-friendly living, York is the place to be — at least according to new research commissioned by toy-pram retailer Play Like Mum.
Although these studies sometimes need to be taken with a pinch of salt — Play Like Mum itself admits that they had to limit themselves to looking at 40 cities and towns in England because of the shortage of comparable data elsewhere — the report does offer some useful insights and occasionally throws some shockers: who would have thought that London would come out worst for median speed of download at less than a fifth than that of top-performing Middlesbrough?
The report looks at 12 different factors that affect or improve family life, from safety and broadband to childcare costs, green spaces and the availability of outstanding schools.
York beat the competition pipping Cambridge to the post with an overall score of 65.46 out of a hundred, and coming first for safety and children’s attractions, as well as ranking highly in many other categories.
The university city, on the other hand, topped the charts for outdoor activities for children, although it was dragged down by higher costs of living—particularly housing, which averages £445,376 in Cambridge, against £276,971 in York.
Other top locations include Southend-on-Sea, which ranked third, Plymouth, fourth overall and first for affordable childcare costs, and Norwich, fifth overall and first for Nature parks, but slightly undone by the number of household with children — lowest in the rankings — which means that families might find it slightly harder to find a like-minded community.
At the opposite end of the scale, Kingston-Upon-Hull was ingloriously last, ranking worst for average pay and broadband costs, followed by London (unsurprisingly worst for childcare costs and house prices, as well as median download speed) and Coventry.
Some places, however, excelled in specific areas: in particular, Slough — 14th overall — should be on the radar of parents looking for a great education as it has the highest percentage of schools rated outstanding by Ofsted among all the locations surveyed (and that’s without including the rather well known public school in its vicinity).
Interestingly, the Berkshire town also comes out top for number of families with children and child-friendly restaurants (raising the distinct possibility that a large number of well-fed children makes for good pupils).
Conversely, if affordable property and cheap but fast broadband are a priority Middlesbrough is the place to go, although what you save in houses you might need to invest in tuition, as the city has the lowest percentage of outstanding schools (7%).
Here are the top ten family-friendly places to live in the UK by overall score:
6. Newcastle upon Tyne
10. Brighton and Hove
The Outer Hebrides lead the chart of the local authorities that offer the best work and life balance, according to