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Best places to live 2024 from property specialists Garrington

by | Feb 12, 2024

A year of falling prices has redrawn the property map, with Garrington’s annual Best Places to Live index identifying a new crop of hotspots with the optimum blend of natural beauty, quality of life and value for money.

  • Top of the ranking of more than 1400 cities, towns and villages across England and Wales is Twyford in Berkshire, which is sandwiched between the Princess of Wales’ childhood home and her royal residence in Windsor
  • With average property prices dipping 2.9% in England and 1.9% in Wales in 20231, the 2024 Garrington league table includes an interactive tool to help anyone pondering a move to pinpoint the best value post-correction postcodes

Twyford, a picture-postcard village in Berkshire with royal neighbours, has been crowned as 2024’s best place to live in a comprehensive ranking of more than 1400 communities across England and Wales.

The annual league table, compiled by Britain’s largest independent buying agents Garrington Property Finders, ranks the best cities, towns and villages according to five main criteria – natural beauty and flood risk, wellbeing, heritage, schools and employment plus value for money.2

Twyford, which is 12 miles from Windsor Castle and a quick carriage ride from the Princess of Wales’s childhood home in Bucklebury, scored highly in three of the five categories that determine the overall ranking.

Its pristine, pollution-free air and low crime rate propelled it to 15th place in the wellbeing category, while its fast train links to central London via the Elizabeth Line, coupled with the quality of its schools, high broadband speeds and proximity to high-paying jobs lifted it to 30th place in the schools, employment and connectivity category.

At £767,500 for a typical family home3, property prices in the village are well above the national average, but they fell by 3% in 2023 and are competitive by Berkshire standards – propelling Twyford to 26th place in the value for money category.

Table: The 20 best places to live in England and Wales in 2024

Rank Location County Natural beauty Wellbeing Heritage Schools, employment, connectivity Value Family home cost
1 Twyford Berks 360 15 198 30 26 £767,521
2 St Albans Herts 193 281 82 142 33 £972,494
3 Epsom Surrey 184 282 90 99 93 £810,809
4 New Mills Derbyshire 45 50 303 277 215 £409,662
5 Bowdon Greater Manchester 189 426 45 253 2 £709,036
6 Godalming Surrey 82 53 54 529 203 £824,636
7 Tring Herts 72 80 481 331 114 £790,325
8 Cheltenham Gloucs 172 437 27 271 248 £570,503
9 Farncombe Surrey 127 248 172 710 36 £764,678
10 Henley Oxfordshire 973 49 64 22 198 £950,580
11 Guildford Surrey 149 628 100 205 251 £814,899
12 Woking Surrey 307 304 331 345 78 £748,455
13 Watford Herts 138 855 212 122 65 £745,971
14 Bath Somerset 273 269 11 825 30 £744,845
15 Marple Greater Manchester 33 1043 115 57 170 £513,087
16 Harpenden Herts 467 285 411 252 3 £990,969
17 Ewell Surrey 388 669 252 81 38 £853,254
18 Weybourne Surrey 239 328 545 287 37 £686,592
19 Wallingford Oxfordshire 153 150 381 292 484 £812,881
20 Chinnor Oxfordshire 32 43 1131 183 86 £691,306

The third-placed town in the ranking also has a royal connection. For nearly two and a half centuries, Epsom in Surrey has been home to the Derby, an annual highlight of the racing calendar and firm favourite of the late Queen Elizabeth.

Second-placed St Albans in Hertfordshire has had a more strained relationship with royalty – it was burnt to the ground by Queen Boudicca during her revolt against Roman rule nearly two thousand years ago. These days its abundance of listed and historic buildings, museums and theatres earned it 82nd place in the heritage category of Garrington’s ranking.

Located just 20 miles from London, the cathedral city is popular with commuters and boasts many good schools, which may explain why the price of the average-sized family home3 in St Albans bucked the national trend in 2023 by rising 0.4% to £972,500.

While St Albans has been a desirable destination for millennia – and has sky-high prices to match – 2023’s widespread reset in property prices propelled several other locations into the top 20 for the first time.

Chief among them is fifth-placed Bowdon, an immaculate village near Manchester with tree-lined avenues that are home to well-heeled but discreet residents including a sprinkling of footballers and celebrities. At £709,000 for a typical family home, Bowdon’s property prices are among the highest in Greater Manchester, but their 5.9% fall in 2023 won the village second place in the value for money category of Garrington’s ranking.

Prices also fell, by 1.4%, in fourth-placed New Mills in Derbyshire. The Peak District town enjoys commanding views of a natural rocky gorge known as The Torrs, and boasts a mix of independent shops, cafés and pubs. It is the most affordable location in the top 20, with a typical family home costing £409,662 – barely half as much as a comparable property in Epsom, the Surrey hotspot ranked just one place higher.

Garrington’s interactive league table is available here. It’s free to use and an invaluable tool, both for those planning a move in 2024 and the merely curious.

Jonathan Hopper, CEO of the buying agents Garrington Property Finders, comments: “2023’s reset of prices redrew large swathes of the property map, with many highly desirable areas becoming better value as prices fell.

“It’s early days, but 2024 so far has seen the cost of borrowing – which led many would-be buyers to hold off in 2023 – start to come down. Suddenly the market finds itself at an inflection point, with house prices stabilising just as mortgages become more affordable.

“This combination is already translating into a surge in interest from buyers who’ve decided to restart their previously paused moving plans. If this is you, our 2024 Best Places to Live guide can help you pinpoint locations with the optimum blend of natural beauty, quality of life and value for money.

“All of the 1400 cities, towns and villages selected for our ranking score well in at least one category, and you can use our fun, interactive tool to find places that offer more of the things that matter most to you.”

Image reference:  https://www.garrington.co.uk/best-places-to-live-2024/

Sources

1.  Nationwide House Price Index, December 2023. Land Registry data for the 12 months to the end of November showed the average home in England fell in value by 2.9%, with the average home in Wales falling in value by 2.4%.

2.  Dataloft analysis ranked 1,429 locations according to 17 separate criteria, including proximity to open space, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, flood risk, numbers of listed and period homes, air quality, crime figures and the percentage of homes within catchment of a primary school ranked outstanding by Ofsted.

3.  Land Registry, average price for a 1500ft2 family home during the 12 months to the end of September 2023.