The 12 best places to retire in the UK revealed

Twelve locations identified by Which? as the top areas to live in during retirement

The survey scored areas on categories such as health care, happiness and green spaces to find the best places for retirement. Getty Images
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Newcastle-under-Lyme, Merton and Wrexham are the best places to retire to in the UK, new analysis by Which? has found.

About a third (36 per cent) 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? discovered.

More than 1,000 members took part in the survey to determine what is most important to them when they retire.

Healthcare access (88 per cent) topped the list of important factors for respondents, followed by green space (75 per cent) and proximity to leisure activities (31 per cent).

Many also said they would prefer to live somewhere with low crime levels.

The analysis by Which? involved applying these factors to find the top-scoring local authority for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and each of the nine regions in England.

Which? gave each local authority a score out of 10 for health care, happiness, green space – specifically parks and playing fields – and also considered house price affordability.

Twelve locations, one for each region, were identified as the best areas to live in after retirement.

The top scores were awarded to Broxbourne, Elmbridge, Exeter, High Peak, Kirklees, Merton, Mid and East Antrim, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Outer Hebrides, South Tyneside, Stockport and Wrexham.

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Newcastle-under-Lyme was one of the highest-scoring English local authorities for green space, scoring 9.6 out of 10.

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 a score of 7.9 for health and well-being in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Average house prices in the area are also at the cheaper end of the spectrum at £180,000 ($219,000).

Popular nearby attractions include the New Vic Theatre, Brampton Museum and Apedale Heritage Centre.

Another popular area in England was Merton, south-west London.

It scored highly for both health care (9.4) and its abundance of green spaces (9.6).

People retiring in this area would need to travel an average of only 0.6km to their nearest GP and the same distance for the nearest pharmacy.

Attractive green spaces in the area include Wimbledon Park and the National Trust site Morden Hall Park.

The area 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 £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).

It also has some outstanding sites of natural beauty, including parts of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, a vast area of woodland, open fields and moorland, plus Chirk Castle.

Those looking to buy in the area will be pleased that the average house price is £180,000.

In Northern Ireland, Mid and East Antrim came top, receiving the highest score for health care, with a perfect 10.

The area provides a good safety net for retirees because there are 81 GP surgeries per 100,000 registered patients.

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 health care (9.7) and happiness (8).

Which? found that the Outer Hebrides had five GP surgeries per 10,000 people, as well as impressive health and well-being scores, according to ONS data.

Of all the top 12 locations it also has the cheapest average house price, at £137,000.

For those looking for a place to retire in mainland Scotland, Which? found that the Highlands area was a good option, scoring 8.8 out of 10 for health care and 7.8 for happiness.

“Whether you’ve always dreamt 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," Jenny Ross, Which? Money Editor, said.

Which? is encouraging consumers to make sure they take steps to plan for retirement by checking their state pension forecast and tracking down their lost pension pots.

That way they could be in a good position to make a new home in one of the attractive retirement locations Which? has been identified in its latest research.

“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," Ms Ross added.

Updated: October 03, 2023, 7:44 AM