As we get older and move towards retirement, many of us consider settling somewhere that can provide a better quality of life. But choosing where to move to can be tricky: should you move to a city, a town, or a country village? Much will depend on how you picture your retirement, and it doesn’t have to mean slowing down if you don’t want to.
But no matter where we think we might like to settle, there are some factors that we all should consider. Things like property prices, crime rates, amenities, and entertainment can make a huge difference when it comes to enjoying your retirement.
So with that in mind, here are some of the best places to retire in the UK – either in the cities themselves or in the surrounding areas.
For those who’ve always enjoyed the beauty and charm of Devon, Plymouth may be the ideal retirement spot.
House prices averaged out to around £239,500 over the past year, and while this was a sharp rise from the past few years, it still means you can enjoy the spectacular South Devon landscape for far less than what you pay in more touristy spots – and you’ll get a lot in return for your money.
Plymouth also has a low crime rate for a city of its size, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
There are harbourside cafes and restaurants, historic pubs, more than 50 parks and churches, and plenty of cinemas and sports clubs. And of course, you’ll also get to enjoy gorgeous sea views, as well as be within easy reach of Dartmoor and Cornwall’s Tamar Valley. So it’s ideal for people who enjoy hiking and being outside.
Voted by The Telegraph as one of the best places to stay active in retirement, York has long been a favourite among retirees. It’s packed with local landmarks and absolutely steeped in history, and the city centre is also traffic-free, giving it a more relaxed vibe than some other busy cities. Plus, it’s home to one of the most famous shopping streets in the world: The Shambles.
York is a great place to live if you want to experience the best of both city and country life, as it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful countrysides in the UK.
It has a low crime rate compared to the rest of North Yorkshire. But this safe city isn’t the cheapest: house prices average just over £302,619.
Because it’s popular with tourists, York can get busy. So if you prefer a quieter life (and a cheaper home), you might want to live in one of the many market towns just outside the city (such as Selby, Malton, or Tadcaster) where you can enjoy a lively life without the hustle and bustle.
If you want to live by the beach and be among nature during your retirement, then living in or around Swansea might be a smart choice.
The average house price in Swansea is under £190,000, which makes it one of the more affordable cities – and you can still enjoy access to the gorgeous Gower Peninsula and a large number of parks and green spaces. You’ll also be in close proximity to many National Trust attractions.
Swansea city itself is friendly, welcoming, and safe, with the crime rate coming in at 97% lower than the West Glamorgan average.
Though there are plenty of pubs, restaurants, and cinemas here, it’s the eye-popping coastlines that are one of the main draws, so this is the perfect place to retire if you want to be somewhere where you can wake up and admire the scenery every morning.
Though these are relatively rural parts of the country, their proximity to London is a major plus – and because many retirees have children and grandchildren living in and around London, it makes keeping in touch with family that much easier. You’ll also get to enjoy all the sights and attractions that the capital city has to offer, without the hustle and bustle of living there!
Sussex is also an incredibly diverse part of the UK, boasting a rich history, sunny seaside towns, charming villages, ancient woodlands, lively cities like Brighton and Hove, and the gorgeous rolling hills of the South Downs.
Of course, living in such a sought-after spot doesn’t come cheap, and house prices average out at around £420,000.
In terms of crime, West Sussex is safer than East Sussex, though both counties have crime rates below the national average.
Newcastle is regularly voted one of the happiest places in the UK, and though this northern city has many young residents, its warmth and friendliness make it easy for anyone to settle in. Plus, being a university town means that it has hundreds of independent bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes – as well as plenty of music clubs and bars that attract a more mature crowd. And of course, Newcastle is also famous for its fascinating heritage and stunning architecture, which make exploring a joy.
Another reason to move to Newcastle is the low cost of living, which is 20% lower than in London. So if you’re looking to retire somewhere where your money will go further, this may be the place for you.
Average house prices are around £215,000, and while the crime rate is higher here than in other parts of the county, that’s to be expected in a big city. Newcastle Council also runs several initiatives to support older adults or people with health problems. Though this might not be relevant at the moment, it can be reassuring to settle somewhere knowing that you’ll be looked after further down the line should you want or need it.
The most popular staycation spot in the country is also a great place to retire. Famous for its pristine beaches, beautiful countryside, and warmer temperatures, Cornwall is in many ways the perfect place to retire – and many towns, like St Ives and Penzance, are rather a retiree paradise.
Packed with art galleries, independent shops and boutiques, historic pubs, and bustling farmer’s markets, there’s so much to see and do – and the beautiful coastline and countryside is just minutes away too.
While all this beauty doesn’t come especially cheap, average house prices may not be as high as you expect, coming in at around £320,000 – though, of course, this varies a lot depending on location.
As the third safest county in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, you can also look forward to a low crime rate here.
While Cornwall is quite cut off from the rest of the country, there are great transport links – and with many areas of natural beauty on your doorstep, you might not even want to leave. Plus, living in such a popular place means you probably won’t be short of visitors, either…
Thanks to its cheap house prices, Belfast regularly makes it into the list of best places to retire in the UK. The average house price in Belfast is £140,000, which is far lower than the UK mainland – though the Northern Irish capital has much more going for it than just affordable housing.
Belfast is also a vibrant, cosmopolitan, and compact city with a rich history and culture, and there are dozens of museums, theatres, pubs, and restaurants you can visit.
Though it’s by no means an unsafe city, the overall crime rate in Belfast was 24% higher than the rest of County Antrim. Many retirees decide to live outside Belfast, in one of the many attractive villages that dot the coastline, such as Ballycastle, Glenarm, and Portstewart.
If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, County Antrim has much to offer – from windswept beaches to craggy castles and of course, the legendary Giant’s Causeway.
8. The Lake District, Cumbria
If you’re planning on doing lots of hiking during your retirement, then why not think about relocating to the Lake District?
Known as a hiker’s paradise, this special part of the country is home to England’s largest lake and highest mountain, and there are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure here. There are also lots of accessible walking trails (‘miles without stiles’) that mean less mobile people are still able to enjoy country walks, which might be a consideration as we get older.
In spite of the popularity of this region, the cost of living in the Lake District is relatively low, and average house prices are £278,000 – which is pretty reasonable for such a celebrated beauty spot.
The crime rate in rural areas here is low, though it’s much higher in Cumbria’s larger towns and cities like Workington and Carlisle. The high tourism means there are several excellent Michelin-starred restaurants and top hotels to visit in the area too if you feel like treating yourself!
Glasgow is another affordable city; house prices here are much cheaper than Edinburgh, coming in at around £200,000. It’s a far more central location too and has connections to Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and more.
Though Glasgow traditionally had a reputation for being rather gritty, these days it’s a national hub of culture, and is home to the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, and National Theatre of Scotland – so if you like attending a good show, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Glasgow also has an unusually high number of golf courses, so if you like golf there are around 40 courses to try out.
However, while recent research revealed that the UK is 11% less violent than a decade ago, Glasgow is the least peaceful of all major cities. This doesn’t mean the city is unsafe to live in, but if you’re looking for peace and tranquillity, you might want to consider living in some of the lovely villages just outside the city, like Bishopton, Bridge of Weir, Lochwinnoch, or Houston.
The South Norfolk coast has long been a popular retirement spot, and things are no different today – but the North Norfolk coast is also becoming increasingly popular. The beautiful coastal views and sense of peace attract many retirees seeking a quiet life among gorgeous scenery and interesting wildlife. If you prefer city living, however, you might want to consider moving to Norwich.
Norwich has been named one of the friendliest cities in the UK, so it’s no wonder it’s so attractive to retirees looking to make new friends – and average house prices are pretty reasonable too, standing at around £272,000.
While the crime rate in Norfolk is among the lowest in the country, Norwich has a considerably higher crime rate and is among the top 20 most dangerous cities. However, with so many beautiful places to live in both Norwich and Norfolk as a whole, you’re sure to find somewhere that’s perfect for you.
Located in the Southwest of England, Bristol has long been a popular place to live. But thanks to its large number of parks and green spaces, rich culture and abundance of pubs, restaurants, and cafes – not to mention theatres and museums – it’s also a popular choice for retirees.
Bristol is the second safest major city in the country, and unsurprisingly, property here doesn’t come particularly cheap: average house prices stand at around £350,000.
Another reason Bristol can be a great place to retire is due to its attractive location. You’re just a two-hour drive away from London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Devon, and the South Coast. Places like Bath, the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire are all within very easy reach too.
The surrounding Somerset and Gloucestershire countryside is also glorious, so if you want to live in a more rural location, you’ll have plenty of choices.
One place in the country that’s sometimes overlooked yet has a lot going for it is Lincolnshire. England’s second-largest county is a great retirement spot for many reasons – not least because its relatively central location means that Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby, Birmingham and Leicester are all less than two hours away. Though it’s big, Lincolnshire isn’t overpopulated, so if you’re looking for a quiet retirement, you’ll find that here.
House prices are pretty low here too, at just under £220,000 on average– though in Lincoln it’s even cheaper, with house prices around £195,000. However, it’s worth noting that Lincoln is among the top 10 most dangerous major towns in terms of crime.
The county has many towns that are popular with retirees: Louth is a sleepy Georgian town, Spalding is a handsome market town on the River Welland, and Skegness is a popular coastal town where you can enjoy seal and bird watching. Plus, thanks to its flat land, Skegness is especially popular with people with mobility issues.
The Welsh capital Cardiff is another attractive city for retirees – and for some very good reasons. As the home of the Welsh national opera, orchestra, theatre, and dance companies, there’s a world of culture waiting to be explored in Cardiff – and with around 300 pubs and bars, you might find you have almost too many options when it comes to going out for a drink!
With so much on your doorstep, house prices are higher than the rest of Wales, averaging around £267,700. Cardiff also has a pretty low crime rate and is among the top five safest cities in the country.
Its location is another plus: in the east, it’s just a short drive across the bridge to Bristol and southwest England, and in the west, Swansea is just an hour away. The gorgeous countryside of the Brecon Beacons, Gower Peninsula, and Wye Valley mean there’s plenty of chances for more rural adventures, too.
According to research by an estate agent comparison site, Edinburgh was the most in-demand city in the UK when it comes to retirement – and it’s certainly Scotland’s retirement hotspot.
This beautiful and cosmopolitan town has plenty going for it, with dozens of historic sites, museums, and attractions – not to mention around 300 cafes and pubs! The Edinburgh Fringe is also the world’s biggest and best arts festival, and there’s always something creative going on here.
Edinburgh also has excellent free public transport, so you can explore the city easily via bus or tram, and the crime rate has remained low over the years. All these attractive points are reflected in the house prices, which are much higher than the Scottish average, standing at around £310,000.
There are also plenty of lovely villages outside Edinburgh if you’d prefer to retire in the countryside: Roslin, Pittenweem, Dirleton, and Cullross are all popular spots.
Retirement gives us the chance to do what we’ve always wanted to do, whether that’s to learn a new skill, meet new people, start up your own business, or enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation. Wherever you choose to retire – whether you picture your retirement in a bustling city or a quiet country village – we hope this article has got you feeling inspired.
Before making the decision to move somewhere new, it’s always a good idea to spend as much time in the new destination as possible, so why not try visiting any potential retirement spots for a short break and really getting a feel for the place?
Are you thinking of moving when you retire – or have you done so already? Or maybe you have some of your own suggestions to share with our readers about great retirement spots? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Leave us a comment below, or join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum.