01 Nov 2023

Best places to retire in the UK

Our guide on how to choose where to live in retirement

Many people are reaching retirement age and looking to leave behind urban towns and cities in favour of rural areas, coast lines and areas of natural beauty. When it comes to thinking about where to live when you retire, you might be considering a similar change of pace. And it’s as popular as ever, as Craig Brown, CEO of Home Finance at Legal & General, explains:

“People in later life tend to reconsider where they want to call home as they enter the next stage of their life. Whether that's relocating to be closer to friends or family, or moving to improve their quality of life, it’s important for people to find a place that will suit their lifestyle and allow them to live a comfortable retirement.”

 

Some people have been thinking about it for a while, and if you asked them where the best place to retire in the UK is, they wouldn’t hesitate to answer. For others, there’s more to consider. If that sounds like you, we’ve put together this article to help you decide where to live when you retire.

Couple laughing in garden

What will your retirement look like?

Understanding how much your retirement income will be could help you choose the perfect retirement location. Our Retirement Income Calculator can help.

How to choose a retirement location

When it comes to deciding your perfect retirement location, it’s common to consider a range of factors. Wanting to be close to family, or wanting somewhere peaceful, or by the sea are popular choices.

Our research shows that the best retirement locations have lots in common. The most popular areas have picturesque landscape, quaint villages, and a long coastline. While these areas are beautiful, their house prices can reflect their popularity.

You may consider other factors too, like:

House prices and your budget

Relocating or downsizing could open up more options in your retirement relocation. If you’re selling up in a big city like London, and moving to somewhere more remote, you could find yourself with a sizeable budget.

Distance from loved ones

Among the most important retirement location considerations, second to your budget, may be proximity to loved ones. Many people move to be closer to loved ones in retirement, especially when grandchildren arrive, and the extra support is welcome.

Transport links

This can be quite an adjustment if you’re making the move from a busy city with excellent transport links, to a rural town with limited bus timetables and no local train station. If you don’t drive, having access to public transport to visit friends and family, as well as amenities such as shops, doctors and your favourite social activities, is an important consideration.

Medical and care facilities

This is particularly important if you’re considering where to live when you retire as a long-term move. Living within easy travelling distance to your local doctor or hospital could be something you consider now, as you will likely need to think about it in the future.

Safety and crime rates

Low crime rate and feeling safe in your new home are really important. You might have a neighbourhood watch programme in your local area, which can be reassuring.

Community and hobbies

If you have an active social life that you’ll miss when you move, it can be reassuring to know that your new destination has plenty of community groups and activities to look forward to. Visiting ahead of your move or reaching out on social media could help you connect with the local community and find people who have similar hobbies.

Best places to live in retirement

When it comes to choosing the best place to retire in the UK, there are plenty of locations to choose from. Each area has its own quirks and features, and you might just find one that’ll tick all your boxes. This list may help to make that choice a little bit easier.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the most popular places to retire to in the UK are:

  • Dorset
  • Shropshire
  • Wiltshire
  • Cornwall
  • Northumberland
  • East Suffolk
  • Tendring, Essex
  • Cheshire East
  • East Devon
  • East Riding of Yorkshire

We take a look at what makes them the top retirement locations in the UK.

Best places to retire in the UK

Dorset

Dorset coast

Average property price: £359,775

With a mild climate, low crime rates and miles of unspoilt coastline to explore, it’s no wonder that Dorset is so attractive to tourists and retirees alike (it has the third-highest population density of pensioners in the UK). The Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – boasts famous landmarks Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and West Bay (the home of TV series Broadchurch), while picturesque towns and villages such as Bridport, Christchurch and Charminster are popular with retirees.

Shropshire

Average property price: £275,592

Land-locked Shropshire can’t compete with Dorset or Cornwall when it comes to beaches, but it still has plenty of stunning scenery to explore, with rolling hills, historic buildings and country parks all over the county. Popular landmarks include Ludlow Castle, the Ironbridge Gorge (a World Heritage Site) and Whitchurch Waterway Country Park. The bustling county town of Shrewsbury – the birthplace of Charles Darwin – has something for everyone, and smaller nearby towns such as Market Drayton and, on the Welsh border, Oswestry, are also popular places to live in retirement.

Wiltshire

Wiltshire

Average property price: £338,633

Like Shropshire, there’s no coastline in Wiltshire, but it more than makes up for this with its picture-perfect villages, cultural landmarks and relatively mild climate. Almost half of the county is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, which can be explored via an abundance of walking routes and cycleways. It’s steeped in history too, with iconic landmarks including the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral and, of course, the prehistoric Stonehenge. Pretty market towns such as Chippenham, Malmesbury and Corsham offer plenty of period properties, although these do come at a price.

Cornwall

Average property price: £308,267

It’s known for its sandy family-friendly beaches, but within Cornwall’s 400 miles of coastline you’ll also find all manner of rocky outcrops, shingle beaches and estuaries – so there’s plenty of room for both residents and tourists. As well as the beautiful beaches (of which there are more than 400), there are many well-regarded attractions in Cornwall, from the Eden Project to the medieval Tintagel Castle and the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan. Foodies will find plenty to enjoy in Cornwall, famous for its pasties and cream teas, as well as resident celebrity and Michelin starred chefs including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw and Paul Ainsworth. Property hotspots among retirees include Porthleven and Falmouth.

Northumberland

Northumberland

Average property price: £195,378

The cheapest place to live on the list, Northumberland offers the best of both worlds – with glorious countryside, a beautiful coastline and more castles than any other English county. There’s no shortage of landmarks to explore, from the world-famous Hadrian’s Wall to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the extraordinary contemporary Alnwick Garden at Alnwick Castle. Northumberland is also the least densely populated county in England so will offer some welcome relief to city leavers. Popular places to buy include Alnmouth, Warkworth and Amble – home to a bustling waterfront.

House prices as of June 2023 on HM Land Registry.

What’s next?

It’s many people’s dream to relocate in retirement. Whether that’s from the bustling city to quant countryside, or in search of sunshine abroad. In our Rewirement podcast episode 'Relocation, relocation, relocation', host Angellica Bell meets two retirees who took the opportunity of retirement to pack up and find somewhere new to call ‘home’. It might inspire you if you’re wondering how to choose where to live in retirement.

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