The UK is home to many of the world’s greatest cities. Cities great for their industry, culture or high standard of living, to name a few desirable features. Yet, the main factor that makes these cities so great is how liveable they are. A city could be economically or politically powerful, but if it lacks the proper equality and has high crime rates, then it is not going to be considered that comfortable a place to live. There are several factors that can be taken into consideration when deciding if a city meets the standard. They are as follows:
- Jobs– Secure full time employment and a steady income is necessary to live anywhere
- Transport– Getting from A to B needs to be accessible, reliable and cost effective
- Education– Not only in terms of quality state schools for children but increased opportunities for further education (colleges, universities etc.).
- Health– Low proportion of self inflicted health conditions (such as obesity, alcohol abuse) and access to well functioning NHS facilities.
- Housing\– Affordable housing that result in comfortable living conditions and ideal location, close to the cities important facilities (schools, shops etc.)
- Safety– low crime, drug abuse and general disruption to normal life.
- Culture– What impact a city has had on UK culture and how easy it is to experience the culture.
For this article, I will assign each of these key city features to an existing major British city (population 200,000+) that best personifies it. To make it more interesting, each city can only embody one key feature each and London will not be included, as it would to obvious a choice for many of the factors chosen. Let’s get started.
This is arguably the most important factor in deciding where to locate your life (along with safety). As nothing in this life is free, a guaranteed income is key to living a comfortable life. It is common therefore to see many moving from towns to cities in search of work. Job seekers even come in their thousands from around the world to take advantage of the increased economic opportunities Britain’s cities provide. No city embodies this better than Birmingham.
This makes sense as it is the second biggest city outside the business phenomenon of London. Size really does matter in economic terms. Just over a million people live in Birmingham, proving a substantial workforce for any business wishing to expand or set up its operation there. Furthermore, although the unemployment rate is not great, recently the city has began to grow into an almost miniature London.
This recent economic success can be partially attributed to Birmingham’s working intuitiveness. For example, its ‘co-working spaces‘, which can be found in locations such as renovated factories, have created multiple strong business communities which has made it far easier for small and medium sized business expand freely and therefore create more jobs and opportunities for start ups, another area of business that Birmingham excels in. This is not just because of the dense population and therefore large potential customer base.
Birmingham provides access to a large variety of helpful resources that can be used by business owner to succeed. For example, the city is home to the National Exhibition Centre, one of the biggest business conference centre in the country. It is also home to many busy high streets and shopping centres, providing plenty of foot traffic for any shop or business. As a result, overall Birmingham is not only a great place to find a job, it is also a great place to create your own business and therefore your own jobs.
The Uk’s major cities just keep getting bigger and bigger. Most of them cover mile upon mile of ground. Therefore a well functioning transport system is vital for a well functioning city. From buses to trains to even trams and metro systems, British cities offer a whole range of ways to travel everywhere. However, a source of constant complaint from the general public is often targeted at transport. Therefore, it was difficult trying to find a city in which residents were generally satisfied opposed to begrudged. That city was found in the form of Leicester.
There are several factors that contribute towards Leicesters transport success. Itis fairly efficient for a public transport system. This reflects the smoothness of most journeys, only 32% having to make more than one change in a single journey. They include great access for disabled and elderly people, great discounts for the elderly and students and such cost saving initiatives as ‘flexi ticket‘ (which allows one payment for unlimited use on any brand of bus/train). Furthermore, Leicester is keen to keep reinvesting and improving its already satisfactory transport system.
Education is one of the major concerns of any family deciding where would be where they can send their kids to school. Many state schools can be violent or lack the necessary resources. Furthemore, it can be hard to get a house in a catchment area for a school with proven success. This is generally because the more in the demand the catchment area, the higher the prices.
Newcastle was recently voted the best place to raise a family. Along with affordable housing and green space, education was a key factor. According to OFSTED, Newcastle has 108 outstanding schools. London has over 20 times Newcastle’s population, but less than 5 times its outstanding schools, which highlights Newcastle’s quality of education. The city also offers high quality higher education. Newcastle University is consistently in the UK top 30 and has world class satisfaction scores, especially from international students.
Your surroundings can have a big impact on your health. It can influence your diet and rate of physical exercise. If this influence is negative you are more likely to be overweight and generally unfit. Bristol are a good example of a positive influence in this sense. For example, 75% of Bristol residents ordering takeaways ‘less than once a week or never’. This shows how the average diet in Bristol is likely to be fairly nutritious and therefore healthy. The rate of regular physical exercise is also higher than most UK cities at around 2 in 3. Combining this healthy diet and physical activity increases the access to a healthy lifestyle.
Furthermore, there are multiple widespread health based initiatives based in Bristol. One of these is the annual Health City Week (although it did not run last year). This included everything from sports events to conferences on healthy eating and exercise for the elderly. Such initiatives are clearly had a positive impact as Bristol’s average life expectancy rate has increased by 2 years over the last 10 years.
This blog is all about the best places to live for certain desirable features they may contain. However, nowhere is going to be able to be lived in if an affordable house in a satisfying location is too hard to get. Cities like London and Edinburgh are so expensive to live in that most people who work there live on the outskirts or in less desirable areas. Obviously on average smaller cities and towns are going to be cheaper. Therefore for this area, the most affordable major city is going to be the focus point.
Such a place comes in the form of Glasgow. According to a study conducted by Bank of Scotland, Glasgow is the only major city in the top ten most affordable places to live. The city has a house price to earnings ratio of 5.2, significantly lower than nearby Edinburgh who has a ratio of 6. Average house prices in Glasgow are some of the cheapest in the UK, which were around £125,000 for January 2019. Although these cheap house prices can be partly attributed to areas with unfortunate deprivation. Yet overall Glasgow is without doubt one of the cheapest places to get on the property ladder in the UK
It would be very hard to feel comfortable in your home if you did not feel safe in the surrounding area. Fortunately, in comparison to the rest of the world, all of the UK is sufficiently safe. There is a fairly high rate of crime (most worryingly the violent kind) in areas of London and cities like Birmingham. Yet, on the whole, most UK people are fairly safe from crime and violence.
The safest place in this safe country is Edinburgh. Unlike its neighbour Glasgow, Edinburgh has a low crime rate and one of the strongest senses of community. It is even considered one of the safest cities in the whole world. 90% of residents feel safe in their city, a hugely positive figure. Only 16% experience crime. Compared to a 56% shared feeling of safety in Birmingham, Edinburgh is almost like a safe haven for any living there. The city can attribute this established security to a high standard of living and access to resources.
Throughout the UK, there are locations that have become iconic for the culture established there. From Durham’s 82 theatres to the landmark capital of the world, London, the UK is filled to the brim with iconic instances of culture. There are so many cities that could be called a culture stronghold.One of these trendy, culturally vibrant cities has to be Liverpool, European city of culture 2008. Liverpool has many pubs, clubs and restaurants that allow visitors to experience how rich the local culture is.
The culture is so important mostly thanks to the impact the city has had on music throughout the world. The most famous popular music act of all time came in the form of four scousers. The Beatles took over the world during the 60s and built up a fan base like none ever previously experienced. They dominated the charts with records still held to this day and were the first UK music act to become just as popular in America as they were back home.
Art is another areas of British culture Liverpool helped to shape. Liverpudlian Sir Henry Tate is one of the most influential collector of art in UK history. He used his extensive wealth to fund the creation of a gallery to celebrate the best of British art. The tate modern is still one of the most popular galleries in europe to this day.
Liverpool have also contributed massively to UK through sport. Liverpool football club is one of the most iconic and most followed football teams in the world. They have won 18 league titles , 5 european cups and have been home to some of the greatest players in the world.