The UK's best places to live

Bournemouth Beach

Do you live along the coast in southern England, or near a north-western city? If so, you should stay put - you're unlikely to find anywhere better.

A new study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) for the Royal Mail has revealed the UK's most desirable places to live, and featuring heavily in the list are the northern suburbs.

The study rated neighbourhoods on the basis of schools, access to green spaces, good employment prospects, working hours, affordable housing and average commuting times.

And topping the chart in England is Bebington, Wirral. Located close to the River Mersey, Bebington's residents live close to work and have good schools as well as high employment rates.

The UK's property winners and losers

Unfortunately for people hoping to move there, though, the Wirral has seen prices rise by a whopping 16.6% over the last year.

In second place is Norwich, thanks to good local schools and falling unemployment, with Broadstone, near Bournemouth, third.

In Scotland, three-quarters of the most desirable places to live and work are around Glasgow, where residents have short working hours and short commute times, as well as access to good local services and schools. Meanwhile, crime rates here are low.

In Wales, more than half the most desirable places to live and work are near Cardiff, while in Northern Ireland, Belfast and Craigavon have easy access to local services, high employment rates and a strong education system.

Fancy a life of luxury? Then it's time to move to Wolverhampton

Top ten most desirable places to live in England
1. CH63 – Bebington, Wirral
2. NR6 – North and North West Norwich
3. BH18 – Broadstone, Bournemouth
4. M33 – Sale, Greater Manchester
5. PO32 – East Cowes, Isle of Wight
6. SO53 – Eastleigh, Hampshire
7. IP5 – Ipswich, Suffolk
8. LS18 – Horsforth, Leeds
9. S18 – Dronfield, North East Derbyshire
10. RG6 – Earley, Reading

Top ten most desirable places to live in Scotland
1. G78 – Neilson, East Renfrewshire
2. G64 – Bishopbriggs
3. G66 – Lenzie/Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire
4. G76 – Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire
5. G62 – Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire
6. G46 – Giffnock, East Renfrewshire
7. G61 – Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire
8. G77 – Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire
9. HS1 – Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
10. KW15 – Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

The best place to retire in the UK - are you set for retirement in the wrong place?

Top ten most desirable places to live in Wales
1. CF63 – Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
2. CF24 – Cardiff Central
3. SA1 – Swansea
4. SA5 – Swansea
5. SA72 – Pembroke Dock
6. CF3 – Cardiff South
7. CF62 – Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
8. CF5 – Cardiff West
9. CF11 – Cardiff Central
10. SA6 – Morriston, Swansea

Top five most desirable places to live in Northern Ireland
1. BT65 – Craigavon, County Armagh
2. BT16 – Dundonald, Belfast
3. BT64 – Craigavon-Lurgan
4. BT66 – Lurgan, County Armagh
5. BT10 – Finaghy, Belfast

The Best Cities to Live In
See Gallery
The Best Cities to Live In

Relatively high living costs mean that this is a city for the well-paid, who can afford to live in the best areas. Fortunately, comparatively high wages and low unemployment improve your chances of fitting into this bracket.

The survey noted the strength of the infrastructure, health and education in the city, and Sydney outscored its Australian rivals with world-class culture and environment.

The quality of healthcare, education, and transport infrastructure underpin much of Copenhagen’s success on this list. Add in a low crime rate, low levels of unemployment, high social equality and low pollution, and you come some way to overcoming the drawback of a relatively high cost of living.

Geneva used to rate higher on this list, but the cost of living has pushed it further and further down each year.

It remains a stable and secure environment, with strong infrastructure and communications. However, it gets increasingly hard to afford to make the most of them.

World class infrastructure - including a major airport hub - helps set Frankfurt aside as the third best German city for quality of life.

The strength of the banking sector has helped the city score highly in economic terms, which in turn helps to overcome the fact that Frankfurt isn't the most beautiful city on the list.

It's the highest ranking city in North America - and the only one that makes it to the top ten. It’s a regular position for this Canadian city, which benefits from good infrastructure and transport, low levels of crime, and relative insulation from the worst effects of the economic crisis.

German cities scored well overall in the survey, but Munich pipped other German cities, because not only does it boast excellent infrastructure and services, but it also scores highly for outstanding leisure facilities.

Expats are also known to love the beauty and culture of the city - and the fact that so much of Europe is so easily accessible.

Auckland is the highest rated city outside Europe, thanks not only to the fact it’s a safe and stable place to live (with decent infrastructure), but also because the environment and culture make it a pleasant place to do business.

Zurich is no stranger to second place - where it cements yet another year. It’s a small city, with strong infrastructure and services - including good healthcare and education, as well as low pollution.

It doesn’t do quite so well when it comes to recreation, but its safety and stability place it high in the table.

It doesn’t come as a massive surprise that Vienna takes the top spot, as it has held it for the past three years.

The low crime, low pollution and excellent healthcare, education and services make Vienna the ideal destination for expats.

Read Full Story