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The Best and Worst Places to Raise a Child

General

Raising a child is the most important job that anyone can have. That's why planning to have a child is such a big deal. It's the moment that you decide you're capable of taking care of another human being; you're in control of someone else's life. Childhood experiences ultimately shape the adult, so it's important to be aware of factors that can have an impact.

Here at Witter Towbars, we are extremely passionate about the great outdoors. Getting children to explore nature and be active, is hugely important to their development. But what other factors are important? And how much influence does location have on a child's upbringing?

We have carried out a study that aims to help parents or parents-to-be (congratulations!) to understand the challenges in their area. We've been extremely busy, if you don't believe us, here's a comprehensive list of all the different factors and statistics we've analysed.

Factors and statistics we've analysed

By considering and rating all of these factors across English counties, we've determined the best and worst counties for raising children.

The Top 10 Best and Worst Counties for Raising Children

The Top 10 Best and Worst Counties for Raising Children

So, why did Surrey, Cheshire and Buckinghamshire make the top three?

1. Surrey

With its charming villages and rolling countryside, Surrey is the best county to raise children in England. Living in such a great location does come with some drawbacks though. A three bedroom house in this area will set you back an average of £439,430. However, the positives do out weight the negatives.

  • Surrey enjoys the highest rate of disposable income across the whole country, with the average household living off £26,844 per year after tax and household bills
  • 94.3% of schools in the Surrey area are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, making it third place for quality of education
  • Surrey also has the lowest rate of deprivation and overweight/obese children starting school
  • A low crime rate also makes Surrey a safe place to have a family, with just 15 out of every 1000 people affected each year

2. Cheshire

The leafy Cheshire suburbs offers many benefits for young families. There are many small towns that are bursting with character, which are perfect locations; from the well-placed Homes Chapel to cobbled streets of Nantwich.

  • Interestingly, Cheshire sits outside the top ten across most of the individual factors that we analysed. However, it's consistently average score enabled it to place second overall.
  • Compared to many other counties, housing is more affordable in Cheshire, with a three bedroom house costing an average of £203,848
  • 92.8% of schools in the area are Good or Outstanding, earning it 11th place across all English counties

3. Buckinghamshire

The Queen's county, it's no surprise that Buckinghamshire offers the child-friendly surroundings for young families to grow. With vibrant market towns such as Buckingham and Aylesbury, this county is perfect for parents who work in the city but don't welcome the idea of city living.

  • Much like Surrey, living in Buckinghamshire comes with a hefty price tag when it comes to purchasing a property. It also scored quite low when it came to the number of child-friendly activities in the area. It does of course, have much to offer.
  • With a whopping 96% of schools rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, Buckinghamshire came first place for quality of education
  • Generally, Buckinghamshire is a wealthy area, ranking third for the amount of disposable income per household at £25,312 each year
  • With 18.9% of 4-5 year-olds being classed as overweight or obese, it is the third lowest figure of all English counties

Every location has pros and cons. However, some counties in the UK ranked much worse than others. Bristol, Northamptonshire and the Isle of Wight were in the bottom three places in our analysis. So, what were the contributing factors?

1. Bristol

Bristol is undoubtedly a great city, offering a multitude of good bars, tasty restaurants, and quirky cafes. For many, it's a great place to live. Unfortunately, for raising a family, it didn't rank so highly. It performed badly in regards to crime rates, with 25 out of 1000 people falling victim to crime every year. It did not by any means top the table for the worst performing area across other aspects but ranked in the bottom half for many differing factors.

  • Bristol came 29th for disposable income, with the average household living on £17,943 each year
  • A high rate of deprivation also contributed to Bristol being the lowest ranked area. With a deprivation figure of 27.2, Bristol had the 6th highest rate
  • Survey results revealed that children in Bristol spend the least time playing outdoors. This could be a contributing factor to the fact that Bristol places 12th for high rates of overweight/obesity among 4-5 year olds

2. Northamptonshire

With the average 3 bedroomed house setting you back a manageable £211,988, Northamptonshire is relatively mid-ranged when it comes to buying a family home. However, there are other factors that mean this particular county doesn't present itself as the best place to raise children.

  • When analysing the number of child-friendly activities in the area, Northamptonshire ranked second from bottom
  • With 83.66% of schools rated Good or Outstanding, Northamptonshire enters the bottom 5 when it comes to quality of education
  • According to survey results, children in this area have the highest average screen time. Children spend an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes in front of screen every week

3. Isle of Wight

Situated just off the south coast, the Isle of Wight boasts sandy beaches, sea front promenades and is a popular tourist destination. It's a great place, but before you go and take advantage of the reasonable house prices (3 bedroom house is an average of £199,448) and moving your family there, you might want to consider the following:

  • Just 80.95% of schools are graded Good or Outstanding, meaning that the Island ranks the worst when it comes to education
  • The Isle of Wight ranked in the bottom 15 for lack of disposable income and child-friendly activities
  • The island also has a high deprivation score, which impacts on its overall rankings

Of course, location itself is just one aspect of raising a child. However, there is no harm in understanding the pros and cons of each area. What are the biggest challenges facing families in your area?

If you would like to see the full data set, please contact lauren.simmons@reckless.agency.

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