Where are the safest places in the UK to raise a family? Safety is one of the top priorities of house hunters when it comes to finding a location to settle with young children, according to research.
During times of crisis or change, people re-evaluate their lives. We’re certainly seeing that right now, as Covid-19, living in lockdown and an uncertain future is forcing huge shifts among people in the UK.
The way we work and live has been turned on its head, and the property market is seeing people move in droves as they strive for a better life, one that is more suited to them and their families.
People are taking stock. They’re also making the most of the Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday.
According to property website Rightmove, there has been a surge in interest from house hunters looking to move to smaller communities in the countryside. This summer saw a 126% rise in people wanting to move to villages on the same time last year, and only a 68% increase in people searching for urban areas.
While the full extent of people making huge life changes remains unknown right now, what we do know are the priorities that drive people.
These essential factors remain: People want a safe place to live for their families, they want to live somewhere they can afford, somewhere that has good schools, and somewhere that gives them green space.
Choosing somewhere safe to live
As outlined in the Halifax Quality of Life Survey 2020, we know that safety is one of the top priorities when deciding where to bring up children. So let’s look at where the safest places are, what the data shows, and what to bear in mind when looking for a safe place to live.
– What does ‘safe’ mean?
‘Safe’ can have different meanings for different people. Recently the term ‘staying safe’ has come to mean ‘safe from Covid-19’, for example, so areas with plenty of open space might now fall into this category.
While crime may be the most obvious criteria to watch out for, there are other factors to bear in mind, such as potential emergency responses, road safety and flooding.
A safe environment for families is somewhere that has low criminal activity, that is safe to walk out on the street and has low antisocial behaviour, where children are safe from dangerous places such as fast roads or railways, and simply somewhere that feels safe and comfortable to be.
– Check local crime rates
Crime statistics show that there has been a significant drop in certain crimes between February to August 2020, most notable in burglary, shoplifting and thefts from a person. Unsurprising considering the lockdown situation this year.
While it could be argued that crime statistics never give the full picture of a place, it’s always worth checking out the data before considering where to lay your hat. This police crime postcode checker is a handy way to check an area’s recent recorded crimes, and it’s as specific as individual roads too.
It’s worth noting that official crime figures show an overall decline in crime in the previous year in every area of England and Wales.
– Safest cities
According to research published by Confused.com, when looking into how secure each UK postcode is, the overall safety of a location can be based on the number of police officers around, the number of CCTV cameras, how secure residents feel, the risk of flooding and ambulance response times.
Best places to live in the UK
Those other essential must-haves come into play when looking for a place to raise a family, and sometimes compromises must be made.
If you go where the best schools are, for example (South East), you must compromise on higher crime and affordability. If you’d prefer a low crime location (North East), you’re more likely to have to compromise on better schools but are in a good position on affordability. The North West and East Midlands fare in the middle on most factors.
The Halifax Quality of Life survey 2020 took more than just security into account. Some 26 factors were considered to compile its list of ‘best places to live’, including health and happiness scores, exam results, average earnings and life expectancy.
As we all know, 2020 comes with a huge Covid-shaped twist. So will the criteria in the hunt for the ideal location to raise a family remain the same as the year comes to a close?
What we do know is that those core factors are still key: affordability, education, green space and safety. Whatever else happens, these will always be the essential and driving factors when choosing where to bring up a children in the UK.
OUR TOP 10: How to make your home safe
You can do your research on how safe a neighbourhood is, but here’s some advice about how to keep your family safe inside the home too:
1. Keep doors locked
A survey by smart home specialists Somfy found that only one in four Brits never lock their doors, despite 1 in 5 people having experienced a burglary before. The biggest culprits were Londoners, with a shocking 33% admitting to never locking their front door when they go out. It might seem obvious, but keep those doors bolted when you’re in and out.
2. Repel intruders
There are a few clever ways to keep criminals from being attracted to your home, especially as most are opportunist thieves. Get a burglar alarm and CCTV if you can, secure your garden well to avoid any easy access, and make your outside space noisy by using gravel, which will deter a burglar for fear of being spotted.
3. Get the neighbours involved
Being part of a vigilant community is always a great way to keep your area safe. Neighbourhood Watch groups are particularly effective, as are Facebook groups and having regular meet-ups. Make friends and everyone keeps a look out for each other and their property by working as a team.
4. Keep valuables out of sight
Another simple but important thing to do before you go to bed or go out. Burglars will have a go if you make it easy. If there’s nothing obvious to take, they are more likely to move on.
In the home…
5. Know your first aid
Keeping on top of your first aid knowledge gives you peace of mind that you can keep your loved ones safe at any moment an emergency should arise. From simple techniques to more involved procedures, you will feel confident if the worst should happen.
6. Watch out for fire hazards
Being careful is all about taking little steps to protect everyone in the home. Install a fire alarm and make sure it works, be vigilant when cooking, with candles and Christmas lights. Keep your electric wiring checks up to date.
7. Dangers around children
Most parents are all-too aware of the risks that are posed to exploring young children and how quickly they can move. But drowning, choking and poisoning can happen. Be extra vigilant when there are toddlers around chemicals, baths, small pieces, sharp objects, appliances and anything else that could be a threat. Get more advice on choking here. Know what to do.
8. Minimise risk of falls
If you have young children or elderly relatives in your home, look out for hazards that can lead to a fall, which can be very serious. Install safety gates, ensure there is good lighting, fit handrails where needed, keep stairs clear and in good condition and lay mats in bathrooms to stop slippage.
9. Practice food hygiene
Make sure your kitchen and food prep areas are always clean and avoid contaminating food by keeping raw meat separate to other foods. Keep everything at the correct temperatures, defrost food throughly and wash your hand regularly. Food-borne illnesses can be serious.
10. Get a carbon monoxide alarm
A simple device you can keep hidden, but one that can save your life. Next time the gas man mentions it, ask for more advice about how to get one. Carbon monoxide is a silent and odourless killer.