Where are the best places to live in the UK? 

The Scottish town of North Berwick in East Lothian has been named the best place to live in the UK, according to The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2024 Guide. Each year, the Guide sets out to find the most desirable places to live in, and judges assessed factors ranging from schools, transport, broadband speeds, the vibrancy of the high street, and access to green spaces.

The Sunday Times’s judges visited all 72 locations around the UK chosen to represent the best of Britain before naming North Berwick as the winner – the first Scottish winner in the Guide’s 12-year history. As well as naming the overall winner, judges decided on the top 10 regional winners.

We take a look at the winners to find out just what makes them great places to live in and check out typical property prices in their area.

North Berwick took top spot in the Best Places to Live in the UK Guide 2024. Source: Shutterstock.

North Berwick

This seaside town took first place due to its great high street, thriving independent shops, good schools, family housing, and plenty of outdoor opportunities. Here, life revolves around the two beaches and a wide choice of social and sporting opportunities including a yacht club and a rugby club.

The proximity of the great outdoors and stunning rural landscapes have a positive effect on local residents and make it a fantastic place to live. Other attractions include excellent golf courses, and a colourful programme of family friendly entertainment including the North Berwick Highland Games, Fringe by the Sea and Puffin Fest which marks the return of the birds to nearby islands. On the south shore of the Firth of Forth, North Berwick is home to the Scottish Seabird Centre. Adding to all this is the easy commute to Edinburgh, just 20 miles away.

Coltrannem, South Gait, (below left), in North Berwick, is a five-bedroom house priced at £1,075,000. This property has three bathrooms, open-plan living accommodation and a games room. It’s located in a secluded setting within walking distance of the beach and the town centre. 8 White Trees (below right) is a three-bedroom terraced house with rooftop sea views, priced at offers over £390,000.

Best places to live in the UK

Regional winners

East: Wivenhoe, Essex

Situated on a beautiful estuary, this picturesque riverside town in the south east boasts two art galleries, an array of independent shops and seven pubs. Its pleasing architecture, welcoming community atmosphere and green spaces nearby put it firmly in the top 10 best places to live in the UK.

Falcon Yard (below left) is a grade II-listed house packed with original features. Standing in the centre of the village, it has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a one-bedroom annexe and is priced at £1m.
Priced at £360,000,  Ernest Road (below right) is a two-bedroom semi-detached house that’s been fully modernised but retains period features and is within easy reach of the train station.

London: Clerkenwell

The warren of streets and alleys here demonstrate the area’s rich history, and it is currently the focus of the city’s culinary scene: it is packed with fashionable bars, cafes, pubs and great restaurants. Judges commented that it embodies: `all that’s best about life in London.’

This house on Wynyatt Street (below left) is a period, freehold property with a private garden. With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, it’s priced at £995,000. In a great central location, this one-bedroom second-floor apartment on St John’s Street (below right) is priced at £500,000.

Midlands: Stirchley, Birmingham

This suburb of Birmingham in the west Midlands is home to some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, and one of its key attractions is the easy connections to the city centre.

Priced at £215,000 this two-bedroom terraced house (below left) has lots of charm and a refitted kitchen and bathroom. Rose Cottages is on Pershore Road, close to the high street, while the three-bedroom Victorian terraced house on Pershore Road (below right) has high ceilings and a good sized rear garden. It’s priced at offers over £240,000.

North and north east: Leeds

Quality of life makes the large city of Leeds in west Yorkshire a winner: there’s a great choice of housing here and it offers the best salaries outside London. It’s the only city outside the capital to have its own opera, ballet and theatre companies, and five universities ensure that it’s a vibrant city. It’s one of the UK’s best cities for shopping, and attractions include its markets and Victorian arcades. Easy access to the natural beauty of the Yorkshire moors creates an optimum blend of countryside and city life.

This beautiful 1930s house, Park Lane, (below left) on the edge of Roundhay Park, has lots of original features, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and beautiful gardens. It is being marketed at £1,250,000. Crofton Terrace (below right) is a grade II listed end-terrace cottage with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has an open plan kitchen-diner, a courtyard garden and is priced at £550,000.

Northern Ireland: Portstewart, Co. Londonderry

This seaside town has a great community spirit, along with good shops, cafes and restaurants. The Flowerfield Arts Centre provides the cultural hub while The Red Sails annual festival is always a great draw for the local community. Offers over £275,000 are being sought for this four-bedroom, semi-detached house (below left) on Cappagh Avenue in the heart of the town and close to the beach and promenade. Sea views to the front and over the golf course to the rear are features of the detached house on Millbank Avenue (below right) which is on the market for offers over £595,000.

North west: Stockport, Greater Manchester

Undergoing a transformation that’s making it a desirable, vibrant place to live in, Stockport is family-friendly with a range of good value house types. The Wier Mill is being converted into a new neighbourhood, along with a park. Stockport also has independent shops, sports clubs and excellent transport links.

This five-bedroom end-of-terrace house on Gibsons Road, Heaton Moor, (below left) boasts period features, a 23 feet long kitchen, and a large garden. It’s within a stone’s throw of all amenities and is priced at £875,000. Priced at £425,000 the detached 1930’s three-bedroom house on Stockport Road, Marple, (below right) has a large garden.

Scotland: West End, Dundee

The revitalised West End is now a buzzy conservation area featuring one of Scotland’s best high streets, according to judges. It enjoys views across the Tay, the waterfront has been upgraded and the area hosts regular festivals and events. The nearby city centre is also rapidly improving.

Cromlix (below left) is a detached four-bedroom house standing in beautiful gardens with river views. It is close to shops and the beach and there are easy connections to Dundee. This house is on the market for offers over £625,000. The spacious detached villa (below right) stands in a residential area of Kingsway close to local amenities and has good transport links. It is priced at offers over £425,000.

South east: Folkstone, Kent

Folkstone won its place in the Best Place to Live in the UK Guide due to its great schools, sports facilities, and easy access to London. It has also experienced a cultural regeneration that’s seen artists make their base there and attractive shops open on the high street, while the restored Harbour Arm seaside promenade hosts many independent businesses.

Priced at £850,000 and standing on desirable Audley Road in Folkstone, this detached five-bedroom house (below left) has two bathrooms and is close to the promenade. The three-bedroom semi-detached house (below right) on sought-after Dolphins Road has original features and a large garden.

South west: Sherborne, Dorset

This cultured town boasts a busy high street, excellent schools and beautiful historic buildings. Judges found it to be a family friendly place with local residents enjoying over 200 community groups catering to a wide range of interests, and an arts and cultural centre is to open this spring.

This grade II listed townhouse on Priestlands Lane, (below right) has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and open plan living space. It’s close to the town centre and is priced at £369,950. Situated on Long Street, (below left) this five-bedroom grade II listed Georgian townhouse is on the market priced at £795,000. Set over three floors, it is full of character features and has a walled garden.

Wales: Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Food gets prime billing in this pretty market town on the edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, where the Abergavenny Food Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The town has a great community spirit, lots of small businesses and a varied sporting scene, all set against a backdrop of outstanding natural beauty.

For sale at £725,000, this stone-built Victorian house on Park Street (below left) has original features, a large garden, six bedrooms and a cellar. Close to the town centre, the three-bed semi-detached house (below right) on Hereford Road has been fully modernised and the asking price is £375,000.

Homes on Park Street and Hereford Road in Abergavenny. Source: Rightmove.

Places where people want to live in the UK

While there were more entries in this year’s Best Places to Live in the UK Guide, the judges looked for improving locations with a strong sense of community rather than places with high property prices such as previous winners York and Bristol. 

Helen Davies, editorial projects director and Best Places to Live editor, said:

This guide is a celebration of towns, cities and villages that are each a fantastic place to live in 2024. These are all places where you can feel grounded as well as upwardly mobile: they have a mature sense of community, lively, supportive high streets and an eye to the future, whether that is eco-friendly measures, transport and regeneration, or imaginative inclusion of new housing.

Overall happiness

What makes our guide unique is that we actually visit all the places we choose and talk to locals to find out what life is really like there. That means we can see what people really love about the places they live. That might be fast commutes and high-achieving schools but also clean water to swim in, lively town centres with useful shops, the possibility of earning a living and being part of a friendly community.  

We do consider affordability, though high house prices are no barrier to inclusion – as long as they provide value for money. What all our best places have in common is that people love living in them and are proud to call them home.

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