UK's best places to retire to: Which? magazine compiled the list taking in factors such as GPs & crime rates

Healthcare access is the most important factor in knowing where to retire to - according to a new study
Gatehouse at Merton Hall. Built in 1613. Credit: Adrian S Pye Gatehouse at Merton Hall. Built in 1613. Credit: Adrian S Pye
Gatehouse at Merton Hall. Built in 1613. Credit: Adrian S Pye

Planning your retirement can be an emotional time, particularly if it includes selling the family home and moving on to pastures new. It's a decision worth doing your research on as you don't want to get wrong and end up regretting you choice.

Of course, knowing where to go is a challenge with the whole country to consider and multiple factors feeding in to decision-making. for example, house prices, crime rates, and the distance to your local GP are all things that one ought to consider before making a move like this.

A new survey by consumer champion Which? has recently been undertaken to make this whole process a lot easier with areas such as Newcastle-under-Lyme, Merton and Wrexham found to be among the UK's best places to retire.

The study found that around a third (36%) of people ready for or approaching retirement said they had already moved or have considered moving house as part of their later-life plans. Which? surveyed over 1,000 members to determine what is most important to them when they retire.

Healthcare access topped the list of important factors for respondents at 88%, followed by green space (75%) and proximity to local leisure activities (31%). Many also said they would prefer to live somewhere with low crime levels.

Stockport Town Hall (Tricia Neal)Stockport Town Hall (Tricia Neal)
Stockport Town Hall (Tricia Neal)

The analysis by Which? involved applying these factors to find the top-scoring local authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Which? gave each local authority a score out of 10 for healthcare, happiness, green space – specifically parks and playing fields – and also considered house price affordability.

Newcastle-under-Lyme was one of the highest-scoring English local authorities for green space, scoring 9.6 out of 10. The area is home to 7.4 parks and playing fields within 1km on average. It was also rated the joint-happiest English local authority based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), tying with High Peak in the East Midlands. The ONS also reported it has an overall score of 7.9 for health and wellbeing.

Average house prices in the area are also on the cheaper end of the spectrum at £180,000.

Another popular area in England was Merton, South West London. It scored highly for both healthcare (9.4/10) and its abundance of green spaces (9.6/10). Retirees in this area would only need to travel 0.6km average distance to their nearest GP, and 0.6km average distance to their nearest pharmacy.

An aerial photograph of The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London (THOMAS LOVELOCK/AFP via Getty Images)An aerial photograph of The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London (THOMAS LOVELOCK/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial photograph of The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London (THOMAS LOVELOCK/AFP via Getty Images)

The area famously hosts the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament each year and is also home to a number of communities, such as Wimbledon Village, and plenty in the way of shops and high-quality restaurants. However, the average house price in Merton is expensive at a whopping £560,000.

Wrexham AFC has gained worldwide attention since Hollywood stars Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds took over the club and fans will be pleased to hear that, in Wales, the county borough of Wrexham came top. It scored highly for its green spaces (9.1/10), home to an average of 4.8 within 1km. It also boasts some outstanding locations of natural beauty, including parts of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, a vast area of woodland, open fields and moorland, plus Chirk Castle.

In Northern Ireland, Mid and East Antrim came top – receiving the highest score for healthcare, achieving a perfect 10 out of 10. The area provides a good safety net for retirees because there are 81 surgeries per 100,000 registered patients. What is more, its average house price is relatively low at £139,000.

Famed for its stunning coastlines, the Outer Hebrides topped the list of retirement locations in Scotland, scoring some of the highest marks for healthcare (9.7/10) and happiness (8/10).

Which? found that the Outer Hebrides had five GP surgeries per 10,000 people as well as impressive health and wellbeing scores, according to ONS data. Of all the top twelve locations it also has the cheapest average house price, at £137,000.

The full list of top twelve locations across the UK to retire were identified as:

  • Broxbourne
  • Elmbridge
  • Exeter
  • High Peak
  • Kirklees
  • Merton
  • Mid and East Antrim
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme
  • Outer Hebrides
  • South Tyneside
  • Stockport
  • Wrexham

Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said: “Whether you’ve always dreamed of escaping to the countryside or the seaside, the decision of where to retire can be just as important as the decision of when to retire – and our latest research has uncovered gems across the UK that would be great places for retirees to consider.

“The sooner you can start financially preparing for retirement, the better. Check your state pension forecast and track down any lost pension pots to get a clearer picture of whether you’re on track. That way you’ll be prepared to make the move if you decide it’s for you.”

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