One of the few positives to come out of the pandemic has been the normalisation of working from home. For many, the flexibility of remote working and the absence of a daily commute has created a far better work-life balance and more time to spend with our families.
Switching to remote working also negates the need to live within commuting distance of the office. This represents a huge change: for generations, we’ve had where the jobs are. With the option to work remotely, we can now choose where to live based on things like:
- House prices
- Air quality
- Local services
- Quality and availability of local schools
- Broadband speeds
- Crime rates
- Local green spaces and amenities
So, if you’ve always wanted to live in the countryside, or in another part of the country, but have been tied to the city where you work, now’s your chance to make a move!
Town or country?
Whilst some of the best places to work in the UK are arguably in major cities such as London, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff, some of the best places to live in the UK are often away from the hustle and bustle. Here are 11 of the best places to live (and work remotely) in England, Scotland and Wales, whether you’re a town mouse or a country mouse at heart.
Best rural places to live and work in the UK
1. Whitby, North Yorkshire
This picturesque village on the East Coast would be a wonderful place to live. It has plenty of local amenities, thanks to its thriving tourism industry (try to limit the fish and chips to a weekly treat at the Magpie, if you can …), gorgeous views, and a beautifully clean beach. You could take a walk up the coast to Sandsend during your lunch hour and work from one of the cafes there for a change. If you’re craving city life, you’re within easy driving distance of York, and if you want the countryside, the North Yorkshire Moors are right on your doorstep.
2. Stroud, Gloucestershire
The farmer’s market and sense of a close, connected community, led to Stroud being crowned the best place to live in England, by the Sunday Times. It’s home to Britain’s first ever all-organic cafe and the people who live here are fiercely protective of their independent shops and restaurants. There are easy transport links to Cheltenham, Gloucester and Swindon, if you can drag yourself away from the Cotswolds.
3. North Berwick, Scotland
Like Whitby, this is a beautiful town and harbour, with two sandy bays to enjoy in good weather. Home to the Scottish Seabird Centre, it’s an idyllic place to settle if you’re fond of sealife of all kinds, and like the idea of being able to head out on a boat trip if the fancy takes you. There are regular trains that can carry you to Edinburgh in around half an hour. This is the Scottish town that tops the Sunday Times list of the best places to live in the UK.
4. Harrogate, North Yorkshire
According to the uSwitch Remote Working Index, Harrogate is the best place to live in England if you want to work from home. It’s not difficult to see why - it has an abundance of local shops and amenities, and it’s a stone’s throw from the North Yorkshire Moors. York and Leeds are an easy drive or train journey away, and the East Coast is less than half an hour away. Within the town, there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy; for example, the Valley Gardens park offers a Japanese garden, plenty of places for picnics, a skate park and play park for the children, miniature golf, and a lovely walk through the forest up to the RHS Garden at Harlow Carr. Schools are good, crime is low, and broadband speed is fast - what more could you want?
4. Usk, Monmouthshire
If you want community spirit by the bucketload, more independent shops, galleries, pubs and cafes than you can shake a stick at, and a town that looks as well cared for as it is, Usk in Wales is the place for you according to the Sunday Times. If you need to escape to a city for a day or two, Bristol and Cardiff are only around 40 minutes’ drive away.
Best cities to live and work in the UK
6. York, North Yorkshire
York is a beautiful walled Roman city in the heart of Yorkshire. You can take a stroll round the Roman Walls, you’ll never be short of a new cafe to try out, and there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy if you don’t want to wander around the shops on your lunch break. Step off the Wall at Goodramgate and enjoy some amazing gelato at Roberto’s.
7. Swansea, Wales
A coastal city with a sandy beach is a rarity in the UK, but that’s exactly what you’ll get if you move to Swansea. It hosts the largest indoor market in Wales, and has plenty of culture in the form of the art gallery, theatres, and music/food festivals. Although it’s a city, there are plenty of green spaces within the centre, not least of which is Singleton Park (complete with a boating lake and botanical garden). Swansea Bay offers a cycle path, sandy beach and Victorian promenade, and just a little further away is the Gower peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
8. Plymouth, Devon
Britain’s Ocean City is a great place to live if you want to live by the coast and within easy reach of not one, but two Areas of Outstanding Beauty (the Tamar Valley and South Devon AONB). House prices are reasonable (and an absolute bargain if you’re accustomed to London prices), schools are good and there are all the local amenities you’d expect from a city.
10. Bath, Somerset
Another Roman city on our list, Bath is full of history and charm, and is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Average property prices here are higher than the other cities on our list, partly because of the standard of housing and partly because Bath is a 90-minute commute from London. If you’re looking at hybrid working and need to visit London on a regular basis, this might be the best option for you. It’s a beautiful place to live, you’ll find the air quality and easy access to the countryside a great countermeasure to the throng of the City.
11. Chester, North West
The Romans certainly knew what they were doing, didn’t they? This is another walled city, with Roman ruins carefully preserved and accessible to the public. The centre is bustling and full of a good mixture of high street and independent shops, restaurants and bars. Take a walk along the canal, or a trip to the zoo, or just sit at home and appreciate that you live in an area with great schools, low crime and plenty of culture (theatres, festivals and the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, for example). You can easily visit Wales, Liverpool and Manchester as Chester has excellent rail and road connectivity to the rest of the west.
Where will you move to?
We’re living in an age that presents a golden opportunity to choose where we live according to how we want to live, not just to be close to work. If you’re not tied to a particular location for an easy commute, where will you settle?