Hertfordshire is best place to raise a family, says uSwitch

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Better Family Life index finds East of England residents rank highest in Britain for exam results, pay prospects and sunshine.

New parents should consider selling up and moving to Hertfordshire, according a new study which has just named the county the UK’s best place to raise a family.

Top exam results, good pay prospects and plenty of sunshine, combined with lots of GPs and fast broadband, place Hertfordshire firmly at the top of the uSwitch Better Family Life index, published on Wednesday.

The index, which ranks 138 local authorities on 33 factors it considers important to family life, named Cambridgeshire as the second best county in which to bring up a family.

Central Bedfordshire, which offers better value house prices than the first two, sits in third place, while Warrington, York and Tyneside are the next best places to bring up kids, said the study.

In Hertfordshire, best-known for its commuter towns, 81% of residents aged 16-64 are in work and earning a healthy average gross salary of £33,435.

In contrast, the mainland areas of East and North Ayrshire in Scotland was the UK’s worst region for families. Its higher crime rates, poorer exam results and low average salary – £26,962 – make it harder for parents.

uSwitch Better Family Life index best and worst performing areas.
uSwitch Better Family Life index best and worst performing areas.

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Researchers noted that as well as having less sunshine, Ayr locals said they slept less than anywhere else in the UK, getting just six and a half hours sleep a night on average.

uSwitch said families living in the east of England benefited from close proximity to local amenities: it took residents an average of just nine minutes to get to their GP and just under 10 minutes to reach their local primary school – compared with the average of almost 12 minutes.

The east of England was the best performing region in the study, taking more than a quarter of the top 20 spots.

Those living in the region also managed to spend more time with their family, clocking up 4 hours 51 minutes of quality time on an average day. They slept better than many of their regional counterparts, enjoying seven hours on an average night compared with the UK average of 6 hours 48 minutes.

While Scotland dominated the bottom of the league table, Leicester, home of the Premier League football champions, is named the worst place in England for family life.

Th city had the fourth worst employment rate in the UK and higher council taxes, coupled with the fact it had a low number of nursery schools compared with other areas. Leicester residents also spent the least amount of time with their family and friends, at just 4 hours 15 minutes each day.

There is one primary school per 4,178 people in Leicester, compared with one primary school per 773 people in the Shetland islands, researchers found.

Tashema Jackson, uSwitch.com money expert, said: “The better family life index shows that life is far from equal for families across the UK. Although there is much to celebrate in many areas, it’s not surprising that so many families are thinking about moving to a new region to improve their circumstances. With the new government yet to announce its budgetary priorities, it is vital that positive changes are made to help give all families fair opportunities no matter where they live – whether it is access to a good education, childcare, housing, GPs or jobs. Quality of life should not be a postcode lottery.”

Almost half of parents in the survey said they were considering moving to improve their circumstances. Disposable income, cheaper cost of living and lower bills were the top three factors considered in such decisions. Interestingly, the fourth most important influence was better weather.

More than four in 10 parents (43%) said they believed that better weather would improve their lifestyle.

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