Finding a family friendly place to live can make all the difference to parents of young children looking for a new home. An expanding family unit is a common trigger for moving house, but the arrival of kids means there are more factors to consider than previously.
And while there are certain things that most people would aspire to – safe areas, affordable housing, within the catchment areas of good schools – other aspects of location are more personal. For every person who wants to look out at green fields and send their kids to a small, village school, there is another who wants to be able to travel without a car and have access to a city’s cultural life. So the ideal place to bring up a family can be a deeply personal thing. The freedom to let our kids run through fields and climb trees may be appealing, but there is also the reality of being near to work, able to afford a house, and all the other aspects of life that determine where we settle.
The latest Family Friendly Hotspots Report is essential reading for anyone weighing up the pros and cons of different areas. And even if you’re not considering moving, the web tool www.family.co.uk/hotspots means you can see how your area compares with the national average on a number of factors.
The favoured hotspots identified in the report have been determined as family-friendly areas by looking at affordability of childcare, local crime figures, property prices and school performance. But because enjoying living in an area comes down to more than just these statistics, it also looks at other considerations such as the existing population of parents with young children, parks and green spaces, leisure centres, zoos and farms and museums and theatres. It doesn’t matter how lovely an area is, if your kids have no one to play with the shine would quickly fade.
In this year’s list, Berkshire town Wokingham comes out as the number one spot for families thanks to its Key Stage 2 results, childcare provision and earning prospects. And while the top 20 rankings for family-friendly locations is dominated by rural options –Devon fairs particularly well with four of the top 20 slots – for many families urban settings are preferred. So the Family Friendly Hotspots Report also includes a top 20 list of cities and another for commuter towns this year.
The Midlands steal the top spots on the city list with Leicester and then Stoke-on-Trent ranked first and second while commuter towns round Bristol dominate the other table. And London is given two tables of its own for inner and outer boroughs.
So it is possible to find a family-friendly place to live, no matter what your budget and preference for rural compared with urban.
Bill Weston writes on a number of subjects including advice on childcare options and maternity/paternity rights, savings and investments and how to teach your child about money. For more information please visit http://www.familynest.co.uk