Are you a single parent, wondering where to put down roots? Or do you know someone who is? You might like to read on.
Of course, you know that as single parents, you face unique challenges when choosing the best place to live. For one, the financial burden on a single parent is automatically much greater than on a two-parent family, and includes accommodation, childcare costs, and living costs.
Then there is the issue of the commute, which needs to be short enough to allow for nursery or school pick-ups. And, of course, it goes without saying that the best places for raising children under any circumstances will need to be safe, which means reasonably low crime rates and not too much traffic (which allows a child the freedom to roam and play in the neighbourhood).
Moreover, your needs as single parents need to be met too. This might include a sense of community and having other people in a similar situation to talk to, and the ability to still have fun on weekends – think (ideally free) galleries and museums, a choice of affordable and child-friendly restaurants, and green spaces that both you and your child can enjoy.
So, we present you with some of the best places to live in the UK as a single parent. They meet all or at least most of these criteria listed above. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and individual priorities will make some of these towns and cities more desirable than others. However, if you are stuck for ideas and are open-minded about your future home, these are all great destinations to consider.
Plymouth: cheap childcare and an active community
Plymouth has the cheapest childcare of any city in the UK, with an average cost of £350 per month per child. It has an active community of single parents, including a Gingerbread charity single parent group.
As a small town with a population of 234,982 residents, it offers forgiving commuting times of no more than an hour to its centre, and plenty of lovely Devon countryside just outside town, including the beautiful Dartmoor National Park.
And – if you prefer living outside town and drive, there are lovely villages with excellent primary and secondary schools within a 30 minute drive, such as the idyllic Launceston (technically located in nearby Cornwall).
Sheffield: a safe, green city with good schools
Routinely named the best city up North, Sheffield has lots to recommend itself to young single parents. This is a town that prides itself on its community spirit and safe environment – not to mention that it has the highest ratio of trees per people in Europe. Single parents will be particularly attracted to the high standard of schools throughout the city, the high number of parks and playgrounds, and high-quality private nurseries (starting at £122 per week part-time per child).
And while Sheffield is safe and child-friendly, it still has plenty to offer to a young person, with a vibrant music and comedy scene. Our top tip is to move to the southern end of town, which has the best accommodation, lowest crime rates, and best choice of child-friendly activities.
Liverpool: affordable and fun
Lovely Liverpool is an eminently affordable city, with house prices standing at an average of £173,000. Add to that plenty of nurseries, schools, and parks, and you have a very child-friendly city indeed.
Our top choice of area within Liverpool has to be Allerton, which really offers the best of both worlds to young single parents. It is both safe and family-oriented (we love the very child-friendly Sefton Park), and fun, with plenty of restaurants and bars. Feel a bit more adventurous and want to commute into Liverpool? The Wirral is a perfect choice – right near the beach, and has repeatedly been voted as the happiest place to live in the North West.
Derby: small, but perfectly formed
Think of Derby as a very small, and very much cheaper, London. Sounds like a stretch? Well, Derby has a compact but bustling city centre, and plenty of amazing options for living quietly, with access to good schools, while still being a half-hour walk away from the centre – invaluable for a busy parent needing to pick up their child from nursery or school after work.
Speaking of nurseries, there are tons: we've counted more than a dozen. Our top choice of area is Darley Abbey – walking distance from the centre, but with a historic village feel.
Will you be renting when you move? Consult our beginner's guide to renting.
And if you want to know more about where to live in the UK, these are the best places to live if you want sunshine.