They say your childhood years are the best of your life, and no doubt you want that to be true for your little ones. Most of us want our children to grow up as healthy and as happy as possible, with a good education and plenty of friends.
With that in mind, where to live is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever have to make as a parent.
But with so many places in the UK claiming to be a great place for bringing up a family, deciding on where to live can be an overwhelming prospect.
It might be reassuring to know, then, that over the years, many studies have been done on the best areas to raise children – and time and again, the same places crop up.
What are the best places in the UK to raise a family?
Some of the best places to raise a family in the UK are: Yorkshire, Sussex, Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, London, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Devon and Surrey.
Many things are taken into consideration when answering this question, including how good the schools are, what the crime rate is like, how affordable housing is, whether there are enough childcare options, how many green spaces there are and the variety of family entertainment.
Based on all those factors, here are some of the best places in the UK to raise a family:
Top nine places in Britain to bring up children
Thanks to its fantastic schools and great transport links, as well as being one of the safest places for a family to live, York tops the list for being one of the best places in the UK to raise a child.
This historic city has a huge selection of child-friendly activities, there are plenty of green spaces and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales are easily accessible.
For those wanting to escape city life, Yorkshire has many family-friendly villages to choose from.
Coming in second place is the southern county of Sussex.
It’s got everything a family could possibly want, from top-ranking primary schools and one of the best universities in Britain to family days out exploring South Downs National Park and stunning coastline, which includes the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.
As well as being one of the safest places to live in the UK, the vibrant city Brighton offers something for all ages, and according to data from the Office for National Statistics, the towns of Horsham, Arun and Crawley have a happiness rating of more than seven out of ten.
It may be most famous for its university, but Oxfordshire also boasts some excellent public and private schools too. Some of the top ranking include St Andrew’s C of E, Beckley C of E, Matthew Arnold School, the Cherwell School, Rye St Anthony School and St Clare’s.
A safe and attractive city, there are numerous parks to enjoy and it’s got a range of housing options too; the areas of Summertown, Kidlington and Headington being particularly popular with families.
With great transport links, it’s also ideal for commuting into London or going on family day trips to the capital.
Another British county that’s home to a world-famous university makes it onto our list of the best places in the UK to raise a family.
In Cambridge itself, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep the little ones entertained, however the cost of living is higher here, with the average house costing £445,376, compared to £276,971 in York.
For those who prefer a slower pace of life, there are many picturesque villages with good schools close by.
Considering its expensive reputation, you might be surprised to find London on this list. However, there are a number of reasons why parents choose to bring their children up here.
Yes, property is some of the most expensive in the country, with the average house costing more than £600,000, but London tops the league table for average earnings, so it is all relative.
Great schools, a wealth of extra-curricular activities and unrivalled career opportunities are some of other factors that make London one of the best places to raise a family.
Bristol is a thriving cosmopolitan city with plenty of green space, meaning families living here get the best of both worlds.
Not only is it home to Bristol Zoo Gardens and the SS Great Britain, but it’s close to the coast too, so family trips to the beach are right on the doorstep.
Some of Bristol’s best schools include Court-de-Wyck, St John’s C of E, Redland Green School and Bristol Grammar. Clifton High is another great independent school, with many families choosing to live in the area of Clifton for this reason.
Families wishing to relocate to Gloucestershire are spoilt for choice when it comes to which town they want to live in.
There’s the county town of Gloucester, with its excellent schools – like Denmark Road High and Crypt Grammar – the cultural hotspot Cheltenham, that’s known for its wide range of festivals and Stroud, which is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
According to crime figures, the county is rated as one of the top five safest places in the UK – but that doesn’t mean you should write it off as “sleepy”, as there’s always something on to entertain the whole family.
There’s no shortage of things for families to do in Devon either – especially in Plymouth, which is one of the greenest cities in the UK.
Home to the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Dartmoor National Park, children have a multitude of activities to occupy themselves with, such as horse riding, rock-climbing and hiking. Boasting ten miles of coastline, Plymouth has got some great beaches too.
As well as lots of activities to keep your little ones entertained, childcare and housing are affordable here too.
Some well-performing schools include Pendeen Crescent, and London is easily commutable, being just two hours away by train.
Close enough to all the culture and opportunities that London has to offer, but with more parks and a slower pace of life, thanks to its location on the capital’s outskirts, Surrey is another one of the best places in the UK to raise a family.
Many parents choose to bring their children up in Guildford, especially if schools are a priority. Farnham, Leatherhead and Epsom are also good choices for those looking for excellent schools and great transport links into London.
Giving your child the best start in life is one of the most important things a parent can do.
Luckily, the UK has some great options for parents who want their children to grow up as happy, healthy and well-educated as possible.