A child's happiness can be inspired by the simplest of things, like an outside space to play, or outdoor toys that let their imaginations run wild. For parents, knowing their child is safe, getting the best education and having enough cash to support them as they grow can bring them peace of mind.
But this can vary drastically depending on where families decide to live, as some areas outperform others when it comes to educational opportunities, crime rates and activities to keep kids entertained.
So which towns and cities are home to the happiest families? We’ve taken a look into the data, looking at financial factors like average salaries, house prices and utility bills.
We’ve also looked into the cost of preschool and the quality of schools, as well as the number of activities, the safety level in each area and the weather to find out which areas come out on to.
1. Liverpool and Hull - Family happiness score: 6.35/10
Two northern cities can be crowned the area with the happiest families, with Liverpool and Hull scoring 6.35 out of 10.
Liverpool shares the top spot thanks to its rich history and reputation as a cultural hub in the northwest so there are plenty of activities for families. With 29 activities per 10,000 people, it ranks second for this factor. The city also has one of the lowest average house prices (£150,000) and the highest Ofsted ratings, with 82% rated good or outstanding, placing it in the top five for both factors.
Hull shares first place in the ranking thanks to its cheap cost of living. The Yorkshire port city has the lowest average house price in the index at £127,500 and ranks in the top 10 for the cheapest utility bills (£151 monthly). Hull also places highly for its school ratings, ranking in the top ten for this factor too with 81% rated good or outstanding.
2. Portsmouth - Family happiness score: 6.16/10
Up next is Portsmouth, with the seaside city taking second place thanks to it ranking highly for two factors. Pompey has one of the cheapest utility bills of the areas we looked at £119 monthly, placing second for the factor. It’s also one of the best cities for its climate, placing second for its high average temperature of 11ºC.
3. Brighton - Family happiness score: 6.11/10
Taking third place is yet another seaside location. Brighton scores highly for its weather, ranking third for its high average temperature of 10.9ºC. The city also has one of the highest proportions of activities, taking third place for the factor with 24 per 10,000 people and is one of the safest too, ranking in the top ten for its safety index score of 62.6.
1. Salford - Family happiness score: 3.09/10
Salford takes the unfortunate title of the city with the unhappiest families scoring a mere 3.09 out of 10 for the factors we looked at. The city places third from last for its safety score of 35.3 and the number of activities (4 per 10,000). It’s also one of the rainiest areas in the index, placing second from bottom for the factor with 1047 mm of rain annually, and ranks in the bottom five for its percentage of schools with a “good” or higher Ofsted rating (62%).
2. Manchester - Family happiness score: 3.78/10
Up next is Salford’s twin Manchester, with a family happiness score of only 3.78 out of 10. The city scores poorly when it comes to financial factors, placing in the 10 most expensive areas for house prices (£230,000) and preschool costs (£1,087 monthly), and the bottom 10 for average salary (£24,101). The weather in Manchester also drags its score down, placing it in the top five rainiest cities with an annual average of 1047mm and the top 10 coldest, with an average temperature of 9.4ºC.
3. Oldham - Family happiness score: 3.89/10
Taking third place is a town just to the northeast of Manchester, Oldham. The town has the lowest safety score in the index (29.4) and places second from last when it comes to activities too with only 3 per 10,000. Like Salford and Manchester, Oldham also ranks poorly thanks to its cold and damp climate, placing in the lowest-scoring five areas for rainfall (9ºC and temperature (1012 mm).
The areas with…
The highest average salary - London (£33,970)
The UK has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, so high salaries are an important factor when it comes to raising a family in the UK. It’s no surprise that the capital has the highest annual salary thanks to London’s high cost of living, averaging £33,970.
The lowest average house prices - Hull (£127,500)
Affordable housing is critical for families and their happiness as this means less financial stress and a better quality of life, freeing up resources to keep children healthy and happy. The Yorkshire port city of Hull takes the top spot as the area with the cheapest house prices, averaging £127,500, two times less than the national average and more than four times less than the capital.
The cheapest monthly utility bills - Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale (£112.50)
As the cost of living keeps climbing, it’s important to keep an eye on exactly how much your family has to spend on essentials like utilities and other housing costs. Three areas on the outskirts of Manchester share the cheapest bills, with families in Stockport, Oldham and Rochdale paying an average of £112.50 a month for basic utilities.
The most things to do - York (34 per 10,000 people)
A day out with the kids is the perfect opportunity for children to learn and be more curious about the world around them, as well as being loads of fun and making precious memories too. Nobody knows this more than families in York, as they’re spoilt for choice when it comes to activities. The city takes the top spot for this factor with 34 activities per 10,000 people.
The highest safety score - York (73.09)
Knowing you and your family aren’t at risk of being the victim of crime is crucial when it comes to choosing a place to live. After all, nobody wants to feel stressed or unsafe in an area they’ve chosen to raise a family. York takes the top spot as the safest city in the index, with a safety index score of 73.09.
The cheapest preschools - Wakefield (£480 monthly)
As well as helping children learn valuable social skills and develop a sense of curiosity that will encourage them as they go through school, dropping your kids off at preschool frees up parents from the burden of childcare. But in some areas, the rising cost of living has meant childcare has become increasingly unaffordable, although families in Wakefield don’t have to worry as they have the cheapest preschool costs at £480 a month.
The highest Ofsted rating - Wigan (86% of schools rated “good” or “outstanding”)
Making sure your kids get the best education possible is paramount for many parents, with some families even going as far as moving house to be in the catchment area of the best school in their chosen town or city. However, families in Wigan won’t have to take this drastic step, as 86% of the schools in the Greater Manchester town are rated good or outstanding.
The highest annual temperature - Southampton (11.1ºC)
Weather is often a big consideration when it comes to families choosing the perfect place to live, and if you and your family can’t stand the cold, Southampton is the perfect place to relocate. Temperatures in the coastal city on the south coast average 11.1ºC annually, landing it in the top spot for the factor.
The lowest annual rainfall - Peterborough (679mm)
Like temperature, rainfall can drastically affect how much you and your family enjoy living in a particular area, especially if you all love to explore the outdoors or simply want to spend time out of the house. Peterborough in the east of the country is the driest city in the index, only getting an average of 679 mm of rain each year.
Beginning with a list of the biggest towns and cities in England, we analysed each one on the following factors. We then gave each location a normalised score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.
Average Annual Salary
The average annual salary in each area in 2022 according to The ONS.
Average House Price
The average house price in each area as of September 2022 according to the ONS.
Cost of Basic Utilities
The monthly cost of basic utilities in each area according to Numbeo.
Things to do
The total number of things to do in each area according to Tripadvisor, per 10,000 of the population.
Safety Index Score
The safety level of each area according to Numbeo.
Cost of Preschool
The monthly cost of private childcare in each area according to Numbeo.
Percentage of Schools with good or outstanding Ofsted rating
The number of schools in each area rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted divided by the total number of schools in each area according to the ONS.
Average Temperature (ºC)
The average annual temperature in each area according to Climate Data.
Average Rainfall (mm)
The average annual rainfall in each area according to Climate Data.
Population figures for mid-2021 were taken from the ONS.
Numbeo data was collected on 25/04/2023.