What are the ingredients for a family-friendly place to live?
Is it good schools? Open spaces with plenty of fresh air? Low crime rates? Good public facilities? Strong job market? Reasonable property prices? Good childcare? Community spirit?
Yes, it is all of these things. In the United Kingdom, more families are making the decision to leave busy city life in search of a quieter, more harmonious lifestyle elsewhere.
All parents want the best for their children, but sometimes raising them in a city environment makes this difficult. In cities such as London, where property prices are inflated and growing families have limited options to trade upwards, a steady stream of hopeful parents are looking elsewhere to find better, more affordable homes for their families.
Do your research
Moving to a suitable family-friendly town or neighborhood is all about doing the right research. Draw up a list identifying the things that are really important to making the relocation a success. Information on house prices, jobs, schools and amenities can all be sourced online.
Once locations have been narrowed down register with a local estate agent who knows the market and listens carefully to your brief. Pay close attention to local ads and newspapers for leads. If the location is popular, being able to move quickly is key. Those in the strongest position will have already sold their house and have their belongings waiting safely in storage somewhere.
Where to go?
Surveys assessing the best places for families to live are regularly undertaken. In 2011 the village of Winkleigh in North Devon EX19 was judged the best place to bring up children, based on research carried out by Calnea Analytics for the savings firm Family Investments. This result reflected the low crime statistics in the area; relatively cheap house prices and good average salaries; quality schools and first class amenities in the village, including a post office, two pubs and a village hall. The friendliness and community spirit of Winkleigh was considered above average and those who lived there were mostly contented with village life in this remote area between Dartmoor and Exmoor.
Second in this survey was South Petherton, TA13 another village location in Somerset. Rated highly for good school results and low crime statistics, although house prices were not so cheap.
Further up north, Galgate LA2 in Lancashire came in at the number three spot.
However idyllic it may seem moving to a remote village to bring up a family, expectations must be realistic. Many teenagers, for example, will not appreciate being isolated in a rural setting and mum and dads taxi services will be in high demand.
Towns that have more going on, which also scored well in the survey, included Bromley Cross BL7, Sutton Coldfield B74 and Wirral Merseyside CH60.
Alternatively, why not choose a place to live based on the happiness of its residents? Carlisle in Cumbria came top of the Happy at Home survey that questioned 25,000 people and was commissioned by the Rightmove property company. Carlisle was closely followed by York, Huddersfield, Harrogate and Chester – clear evidence if it were needed that it is far from grim up north.
Armed with all that useful information, it will not be long before collecting your furniture from its Central London storage location and having it installed in a new, family friendly setting.