Contemplating a move? Bristol was recently voted the best place to live by The Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide, but if Banksy’s hometown isn’t quite up your street, browse our pick of the best places to live in the UK. Whether you’re a country girl at heart or enjoy the drama of a buzzing metropolis, there’s sure to be somewhere to suit…
KNOWN FOR: Its diverse, offbeat character. Bristol is a buzzing hub of culture and creativity, famous for the graffiti left behind by the city’s notorious street artist Banksy.
VISIT: The wealth of cool hangouts, community-run cafes and music venues dotted around. Steeped in history and culture, Bristol is full of fabulous quirks and with a great food and drink scene to boot.
DON’T BE PUT OFF BY: The money. Although London is one of the most sought after places to live in the world, it has a reputation for being one of the most expensive. But being in the capital means there are endless job opportunities and countless places to visit.
WE LOVE: The atmosphere, it’s the buzz that really attracts people to the area – you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere in the UK that offers as many restaurants, bars and hotels, not to mention the theatres, museums and epic music scene on tap 24/7. From sport and street food to festivals and live music, London is the place to be for any urban junkie.
RENOWNED FOR: Its character. This picturesque riverside city makes it onto the Best Places list almost every year, and it’s the history and architecture that makes York so compelling. Encircled by a ribbon of ancient walls and atmospheric cobbled lanes, you can walk everywhere and there’s easy access to glorious countryside, as well as shops and jobs in Leeds (25 minutes by train).
EAT HERE: With Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern taking up residency at one of the city’s hottest restaurants, The Star Inn, there are plenty of dining options. Other notable outposts include Café no.8 Bistro, Mr P’s Curious Tavern or the Rattle Owl.
DID YOU KNOW? Each year the Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival gives comedy lovers the chance to see some top-flight performances from renowned comedians, who are usually en route to the famous Edinburgh Fringe.
KNOWN FOR: Picturesque, cobbled streets, historical buildings and the world-class comedians and performers who flock to the Festival Fringe every August.
THE VIBE: Eclectic cool with a side of history – relocate for the stunning gothic architecture and countless restaurants and drinking dens.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: With its grand honey-stone Georgian architecture, well-preserved Roman bathhouses, burgeoning independent food scene and distinctive continental vibe; you won’t be disappointed with what this Romanesque city has to offer.
KNOWN FOR: Jane Austen, the city’s most famous historical resident – so anticipate a plethora of Austen-style teahouses and gorgeous Georgian townhouses.
WHAT TO DO: Boasting two universities, five theatres and a host of festivals, museums, galleries and independent shops, Bath is brimming with culture, and there are plenty of gastropubs and restaurants to choose from, including the Michelin-starred fare at the Bath Priory.
WE RATE IT: Because it’s one of the prettiest and most sought after areas to live in in the UK. Smaller, prettier and gentler than Oxford, Cambridge’s honey-stone colleges are just as striking, with many set against the beautiful backdrop of the River Cam, where swarms of tourists and slightly inebriated students take to the water each summer for a spot of clumsy punting.
LIVE HERE IF: You’re a cyclist. Cambridge is the most cycle-friendly city in the south, with cycle paths and bevies of bikes chained up against almost every iron fence in the city. There are some great gastropubs and independent eateries for foodies too – top of our list is the Pint Shop, Steak & Honour, Aromi, and two Michelin-starred Midsummer House.
FOR JOBS: You’ll appreciate the rail links and blossoming tech businesses.
KNOW FOR: Its food and drink culture, which has the foodie crowd flocking to this northern gem. But the burgeoning restaurant scene isn’t all that’s on offer, Manchester is brimming with arts, culture, music and fashion, with theatre shows, music gigs, festivals and sporting events, not to mention its eclectic nightlife, playing host to some of the biggest names in dance and indie music.
WE LOVE: That the cost of living is significantly lower than in the south of England. House prices are on average four times less expensive than London, so if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, Manchester is certainly a place to consider.
THE VIBE: Relaxed and boutique – Brighton boasts cool hotels, quirky cafés, a boho arts scene and one of England’s biggest festivals. Whether you’re after gourmet grub, live music or beachfront yoga, Brighton has everything you could ever wish for in city.
THE BEACH: Nestled next to the coast, Brighton’s famous pebble beach is a tourist hotspot. Come summer, you’ll be hard-pushed to find yourself a quiet spot, but on the plus side, you’ll get to soak up the buzzing atmosphere – live music and street performers swarm the promenade, and bars along the seafront open up their doors to mix up a mean collection of cocktails for laid-back beach dwellers.
VISIT: The boho North Laine district, where you’ll find offbeat designers and flea markets alongside sleek restaurants and swanky cocktail bars. Be sure to try Terra Terre’s innovative vegetarian fare, Plateau’s impressive natural wine selection and the ever-changing menu of fresh, seasonal plates at award-winning Brighton favourite, 64 Degrees.
KNOWN FOR: The stunning Cathedral – one of Europe’s largest – and quick commuter routes into London, it’s just an hour to Waterloo on the train.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: Winchester’s cobbled streets, ancient castles and glorious Hampshire countryside, all add to the allure of this charming rural bolthole. There are markets each week, selling everything from vintage antiques to organic farm produce where you can stock up on award-winning cheese and charcuterie, as well as a large Christmas market with wooden cabins and an ice rink that pops up at the start of each December. If that’s not enough to get you interested, there’s an annual wine festival that takes place in the city each November, offering talks, masterclasses and tastings.
EAT HERE: Rick Stein’s restaurant on the high street and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen, which takes up residence in the historic Abbey Mill, both of which are popular amongst the locals.
WE RATE IT: Because of its rich industrial and cultural history. George Harrison described the people of Liverpool as “the kind of people who go out on a Monday evening and couldn’t care less about a Tuesday morning”. If you’re looking for hedonism, Liverpool should be high up on your wish list.
THE VIBE: Old factories are now warehouses filled with stylish apartments and creative tech businesses, and in the Baltic Triangle you’ll find an array of trendy bars, clubs and coffee houses mixed amongst the industrial hub.
THE CULTURE: Always on the pulse of modern culture, Liverpool is a city that boasts everything from rich architecture to cutting edge arts, as well beautiful parks, exhibitions, sports, festivals, club nights, shows and a bustling food and drink scene to boot.
EXPECT: Rugby, beer, friendly people and a great arts and culture scene in the centre of the city. The rejuvenated Bay area, among other sights, features the Senedd building (the home of the National Assembly of Wales), and the Wales Millennium Centre – a huge arts venue that’s home to Welsh National Opera.
CLOSE TO: If you fancy a trip, Cardiff is 40 miles from Bristol and just 30 minutes from the picturesque Brecon Beacons, travel a little further you’ll reach the unspoiled beaches of the Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire – the city is surrounded by stunning scenic landscapes.
VISIT: As well as a historical castle, there’s plenty of greenery with open parks, lakes and surrounding countryside, and of course there’s the colossal Millennium Stadium that plays host to numerous sporting and live music events.
WE RATE IT: Because of the friendly vibe. Plus, living costs are also about 80% cheaper than London, and rent is significantly lower than other areas in the UK, so it’s a great place for young people and families.
KNOWN FOR: Steeped in history, Oxford city welcomes flocks of visitors to its famous grounds, but it’s the city’s quaint English village vibe and thriving culture of art, music and drama that gives people a reason to wander its cobbled streets.
VISIT: The ancient pubs – some of which date back to 1242. Literary buffs should seek out The Eagle and Child, which once served pints to C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, or prop up the bar at The Randolph Hotel, where Inspector Morse was famously filmed, and where there’s also a wonderful spa.
FOR FOODIES: Book a table and Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie Blanc where you can feast on a plethora of French classics – think beef bourgignon and duck leg confit – or for waterside views, be sure to visit the Cherwell Boathouse , where in summer, you can eat alfresco on the outside deck.