We move for many reasons throughout our life as our career and family situation changes. A relocation for a 21-year-old fresh out of University is likely to be based on very different reasons to a couple in their 50s trying to engineer a move to the country. Careers, lifestyle opportunities, a longing for a fresh start, and even sadly illness or lack of money could be relevant reasons for looking elsewhere.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for making a move is the most natural; children and family reasons. None of us want to bring up our youngsters in a dangerous or unhappy local environment. Most of us want our little ones to attend good nurseries and schools, have access to playing fields and parks, and to be close to things that teenagers love such as cinemas, retail areas, and sports grounds.
So where, in a perfect world, should we live to give our children the best chances? It depends who you ask, and perhaps more accurately, which surveys you believe.
Life Insurance company OneFamily compiles an annual list of desirable postcodes in which to live, based on six criteria: education, childcare, safety, property, amenities and population. The company analyses 2,400 postcodes for its Family Hotspots study, and the results throw up some real contrasts.
For example, its ‘top 10 cities in which to bring up a child’ list contains a few surprises. York and Plymouth topped the list, but further down the top 10 are several Midlands cities such as Birmingham (5th), Wolverhampton (6th), Coventry (7th), Peterborough (9th) and Leicester (10th).
Of course, if one visits the websites of the local newspapers in these locations the resident commenters with their various agendas are bemused and incredulous at such results, believing that their city is on a one-way visit to oblivion – forgetting that there is no statistical or prevalent reason for these results to be biased or incorrect in any way.
Karl Elliot, a spokesperson for OneFamily, told The Independent: “To secure the top spot in the OneFamily Hotspots Report is a fantastic achievement and York, with its excellent education, rich history, and picturesque surroundings, is very deserving of its place.
How about if we dig deeper, into individual postcode locations? Suddenly the top spot changes significantly, from Yorkshire to the Home Counties. Number one in the most desirable postcodes list is Wokingham (RG41) in Berkshire, just outside London. For those who have not visited, it’s an affluent market town with attractive facilities, low crime rates, an average salary of over £27,000 and good schools.
It’s also featured in a number of TV productions, so one might imagine how it looks. For reference, Wokingham has taken a spot in the top 10 every year since the survey began in 2012.
Winscombe in Somerset is second, a stone’s throw from Cheddar Gorge. The rest of the list includes leafy locations in Oxfordshire, Rutland and Devon, with a higher proportion of postcodes in the North-West for 2015 including St Bees in Cumbria and Longridge in Lancashire.
Most of us want roughly the same things in life for our youngsters, so in some ways the results of these studies are comforting; it would seem that multiple locations across the country can cater well for our offspring. Bringing a child up is one of the most rewarding and exciting projects of our lives – and there are many places that give us the chance to do it well.