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.
For example, should you move to a city, town, or 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 should all consider. Things like property prices, crime rates, amenities, and entertainment can make a huge difference when it comes to enjoying your retirement.
With this in mind, here are some of the best places to retire in the UK – both in cities and the surrounding countryside.
For those who’ve always enjoyed the beauty and charm of Devon, Plymouth might be the ideal retirement spot.
House prices averaged out to around £244,000 over the past year. While this was a relatively sharp rise from the past few years, you can still enjoy the spectacular South Devon landscape for far less than what you’d 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 get to enjoy gorgeous sea views and be within easy reach of Dartmoor and Cornwall’s Tamar Valley. So it’s ideal for people who enjoy hiking and the great outdoors.
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 steeped in history – and the city centre is traffic-free, giving it a more relaxed vibe than some other busy metropolises. Plus, it’s home to one of the most famous shopping streets in the world: The Shambles.
Surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK, York is a great place to live if you want to experience the best of both city and country life. It also has a low crime rate compared to the rest of North Yorkshire. But it isn’t the cheapest, with house prices averaging around £340,000.
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 move to 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 amongst nature during your retirement, living in or around Swansea might be a smart choice.
The average house price in Swansea is approximately £200,000, making it one of the more affordable cities – and you can still enjoy access to the gorgeous Gower Peninsula and a variety of parks and green spaces. You’ll also be in close proximity to many National Trust attractions, like the manor house and castle ruins at Dinefwr.
Swansea City itself is friendly and welcoming, and safe. And while there are plenty of pubs, restaurants, and cinemas here, the eye-popping coastline is the main draw. So, it’s 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 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 £465,000.
In terms of crime, West Sussex is considered safer than its neighbour, though both counties have rates below the national average.
Plus, being a university town means it has hundreds of independent bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes – as well as plenty of music venues 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 significantly below London’s. 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 approximately £200,000, 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 issues. Though this might not be relevant for you at the moment, it can be reassuring to settle somewhere knowing there’s help available should you need it further down the line.
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.
Packed with art galleries, independent shops and boutiques, historic pubs, and bustling farmer’s markets, towns like St Ives and Penzance have lots to see and do. Beautiful coastlines and countryside are 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 £345,000 – 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 isolated from the rest of the country, there are good 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 about £175,000, which is far lower than in Britain – 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 to visit.
Though it’s by no means an unsafe city, the overall crime rate in Belfast was 34% higher than in the rest of County Antrim. This might be one of the reasons why 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, the wider 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, why not think about relocating to the Lake District?
Known as a rambler’s paradise, this unique 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 allow people who are less mobile to enjoy country walks, which can 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 sit at around £300,000 – 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. 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 in Edinburgh, coming in at around £210,000. 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. Home to the Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, and National Theatre of Scotland, if you like attending a good show, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Glasgow also has an unusually high number of golf courses, with around 40 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 one of the lovely villages just outside the city – like Bishopton, Bridge of Weir, Lochwinnoch, or Houston.
The beautiful coastal views and sense of peace attract many retirees seeking a quiet life among gorgeous scenery and interesting wildlife. However, if you prefer city living, 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. Average house prices are pretty reasonable, too, standing at just under £300,000. That said, while the crime rate in Norfolk is among the lowest in the country, Norwich has one of the highest crime rates in the area.
Yet, with so many beautiful places to live in both Norwich and Norfolk as a whole, we feel that it’s definitely earned its place on this list.
Located in the Southwest of England, Bristol is a popular place to live. But thanks to its array 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 across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and unsurprisingly, property here doesn’t come particularly cheap: average house prices stand at around £395,000.
Another reason Bristol can be a great place to retire is 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 easy reach too.
The surrounding Somerset and Gloucestershire countryside is also glorious, so you’ll have plenty of choices if you want to live in a more rural location.
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. Plus, its large size means that 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 about £240,000 on average – though, in Lincoln, it’s even cheaper, sitting at approximately £220,000. However, it’s worth noting that for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Lincoln is among the top 10 most dangerous major towns in terms of crime.
The county has many towns favoured by retirees: Louth is a sleepy Georgian hamlet, Spalding is a handsome market town on the River Welland, and Skegness is a popular coastal resort where you can enjoy bird and seal watching. Plus, thanks to its flat land, Skegness is especially popular with people with mobility issues.
The Welsh capital of 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 in the rest of Wales, averaging around £290,000. There’s conflicting research about how safe Cardiff is, but it seems that overall, it’s better than many other major cities in the UK.
Cardiff is also well located: 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 hundreds of 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.
Another plus is that Edinburgh 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 £340,000.
There are also plenty of lovely villages outside of 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, whether that’s learning a new skill, meeting new people, starting up your own business, or enjoying some well-earned rest and relaxation.
Whether you choose to retire 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 from you in the comments below.