When considering where you want to make a home for yourself and your family in the UK for years to come, you need to balance career demands and opportunities with an environment that is family supportive and child-friendly. And sometimes, that means looking farther afield than the sprawling metropolis. We present to you five options for your consideration:
- Lincoln – a small place to call home in the English Midlands
Lincoln? Where’s Lincoln? If you or your children have ever read the tales of Robin Hood and his Lincoln Green clad band of Merry Men, then you might vaguely assume that this unprepossessing city must be located somewhere in the vicinity of Nottingham Forest. In fact, though this East Midlands city has much to recommend it, it is not all that close, to this natural and tourist attraction lying one county to the east, in the eponymous Lincolnshire.
What does it have?
Well, according to a study conducted by Electric Ride on Cars Lincoln takes first place amongst the 100 largest communities in the United Kingdom in… air quality. This city, once the center of a vast, and not very environmentally friendly textile and dying industry has moved on – and you simply can’t beat its fresh, green scent. However, while Lincoln is not first place in school quality, safety and average property price, it does have the highest overall score for all of the measured parameters, making it a top destination for parents concerned with ensuring a healthy and nurturing environment for their children.
Aside from fresh air, affordable homes, safe streets and superior schools there are other reasons to move to Lincoln. The city, founded in 1072, by William the Conqueror, only six years after the Battle of Hastings, is bursting with history, culture and natural attractions, with plenty of entertainment options for the entire family to enjoy throughout the year, especially in the great outdoors, which are some of the most cared after and protected areas in all of England.
Award-winning tourism attractions include the Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral International Bomber Command Centre, The Collection Museum, and The Museum of Lincolnshire Life will keep your little tykes entertained for hours, and regularly refresh their exhibits and attractions so you can take them back for a fresh experience, year after year. The city offers varies activity and explorer packs to keep everything accessible (and affordable!) for new and old residents. Lincoln’s sites pride themselves on offering child oriented guides and plenty of fun and games – at Lincoln, people take the needs of children, and their parents, seriously!
The restaurants, tea rooms and cafes of the city are equally famous for their child friendly policies and attitudes, so you will always have a place to relax and chat with other parents, without worrying about disapproving glares at the chaos unleashed by your little hellions.
Lincoln even offers a Lincs Kids membership card to explore Lincoln and Lincolnshire with exclusive members’ discounts to over 50 local attractions, eateries and services. Lincs Kids focuses on Lincolnshire’s activities, classes, retailers, food and drink, services, health/fitness providers and green spaces.
So having said all that, why would you even consider living anywhere else in the UK?
In spite of all of its advantages, Lincoln may simply not be your cup of tea. And quick glance at the map will show you that Lincoln is not a very big city, with only 97,000 residents – and that included the borough! So if you want to be closer to the center of action, that is 100% legit. Check out some of our other recommendations and see if they are a better fit for your style!
2. York – a midsized city with massive history
York, the famous walled city in Northern England founded by the Romans as the camp of the Ninth Legion almost two thousand years ago, has won first place as the most family-friendly place to live in the UK, by Play Like Mum. The survey considered a wide variety of factors including affordable housing, outdoor activities, childcare availability, superior schools, and child-friendly cafes and restaurants. York, which scored 65.46 in the study, has the largest selection of child-friendly activities, and scores very highly in safety as well.
But it also has plenty of adult activities to recommend it! A rather larger city than Lincoln to the south, it boasts 200,000 residents, and a wide variety of cultural activities and attractions for those not prepared to give up on big city life.
As for those seeking the thrill of the wild, York is but a short distance away from some of the tallest mountains in England to the West, and not too far from Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish highlands to the North.
Over it’s two millennia of history as a Roman legionary city, the capital of the Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, the center of Danish-Viking power in England, England’s Northern bastion against the marauding Scots, and the site of one of England’s first and largest Cathedrals, the city has accumulated an incredible variety of historical attractions which will really connect you, and your children, with the rich history of your new homeland.
Furthermore, employment and educational opportunities are also on the rise, as York is one of the fastest developing cities in the UK – meaning that if you move here, you are more likely to really find a place to settle down career wise.
3. Oxfordshire – to be posh or not, that is the question.
Oxfordshire prides itself for its picturesque villages, incredible landscapes, world-leader universities, and more historical sites than can possibly be named here. It is also ranked as one as the best places in the UK to raise your children.
Still, there are pros and cons to this famous city:
- Great Job opportunities – Oxford is a Mecca for leaders in their field.
- Super safe – public safety is ensured by the combination of a motivated and well funded police force and people who are simply good, law-abiding citizens.
- Leading educational institutes- well… it’s OXFORD. Need we say more?
- Delicious food – surprisingly, Oxford leads Britain in foodie density and the quality of the local cuisine is unparalleled
- Great transportation.
- A high cost of living – it isn’t London, but it is definitely more expensive than Liverpool. Such are the costs of being posh
- Hard to land a job- finding an entry level position here is not easy.
4. Liverpool – best place to raise children amongst England’s largest cities
Liverpool leads the Leagues! And not just in soccer – Liverpool has recently won accolades by the PlayByMum study as the best city, amongst the country’s 25 largest, to raise a family in.
For those unwilling to give up on big city life, but put off by the challenges inherent to raising children in “The City” of London Liverpool, at half a million residents and rising, offers a damn good compromise, as it was ranked as the best overall large city to raise children in according to the eight weighted parameters, including things to do for families, school quality crime rates. But respect to PlayByMum aside there are quite a few other good reasons to consider relocating to Liverpool:
- Property prices and cost of living – Liverpool is simply, much, much cheaper to live in than London
- University prospects – Liverpool is chock full of excellent academic choices in higher education.
- Employment opportunities- Liverpool offers an excellent field of job opportunities, and a work environment which is not quite as cutter throat as London
In short, Liverpool combines the advantages of a powerful economy and education with affordable living. And beyond that – it is simply a more digestible city to live in.
Of course, no city is perfect. They all have their downside – and Liverpool’s is the weather. There’s no need to ask about the weather – the answer is almost uniformly gloomy. And yes, that can affect the mood of newcomers to this city.
5. All roads lead to London
London? Can you actually raise kids in London?
These are some of the responses you might encounter if you share your plans with the less-informed. After all, a huge teeming metropolis is often viewed as a suboptimal place to raise a family, never mind the financial cost of securing a flat! But it can be done, and it can be done well – and in fact, there are more kids in London than any other city in the UK.
Moreover, there are plenty of excellent reasons to raise your children in the capital of the United Kingdom – and not just because that is where your job or university is:
- There is literally no city in the UK with more attractions and stuff do with children. Never mind the UK – there probably isn’t a single location on the planet, with more activities for your little tykes. Try as hard they might to get bored, they are going to find it next to impossible. There are the obvious attractions – the tower of London, movies, various tours, museums, music, sports and so on. But there are also numerous more obscure activities which can keep you exploring for years to come. How about mud larking on the Thames? Or taking a self-guided tour of the Great Fire of London (be sure to sing London Bridge is falling down” as you do)?
- London is a super cosmopolitan city. Sure, you can cloister your children off in a community in the green English country side and give them a sheltered life… but if you want to prepare them for the globalized world and help them learn, accept and feel comfortable around other cultures then there is really no place like London – or “The City” as its residents quite justifiably call it.
- You can’t beat public transportation in London. In fact, you can’t beat it with a car, either – so why buy one? See? You’ve already saved on your family expenses – and given your older children a chance to become more independent than they would have been if you were living elsewhere.
- For the more athletically inclined you can get around just fine on a bicycle thanks to London’s unparalleled bicycle lanes.
- Contrary to the Mary Poppins imagery of the Grey, soot stained City of London, London is filled with easily accessible parks where kids can run around and burn off energy.
There are, however, a few cons to raising a family in London
- London is a far greener city than it was a generation ago, but it’s air quality still leaves much to be desired in comparison to the rest of the UK. The city is just so big! With kids to worry about this can be a cause for concern.
- Property prices, property prices, and property prices. This is the major cause families opt out of London. However, this is offset by the higher salaries people working in London have to look forward for. In addition, London offers unique opportunities for the strategic real estate investors.
- Traffic is… well, goddamned awful. Public transportation and bicycles can offset this, but this means acquiring new habits and coping mechanisms, which can be a barrier for some.
So to answer the question… yes, you can raise children in London. And there are many advantages to this. But those seeking a more isolated, sheltered environment to raise their children should consider Lincoln, York or even Oxford or Liverpool- there are plenty of residential options in the UK and there is no size that fits all!