The best place to live may not be your best place to live

Each year The Sunday Times publishes a list of the best places to live in Great Britain. In 2019, Salisbury in Wiltshire topped the list. In 2018, York took the top slot. It’s not that Salisbury has suddenly upped its game or that York has taken its eye off the ball. The list is decided by a panel of judges and their views are always going to be subjective.

Even if we assume both York and Salisbury are top locations offering a wealth of benefits to those that live there, we’ve got to acknowledge that neither city is ideal for a great many people. It makes no sense for us all to flock there because everyone has their own criteria for making the decision on where to live. While some people are energised by living in a city, others long for open spaces. Some like the sense of community that comes from having close neighbours, others appreciate their privacy and solitude.

Generally, those of us who make a conscious choice about where to live, think about a lot of factors other than those on the Sunday Times list, and even so, their final decision is likely to contain an element of compromise. Often, however, people don’t make a conscious choice. They drift into decisions. A friend knows of an apartment that’s going to be available shortly. It’s handy for the station and the rent is fair. The decision is made almost instantly because of a few positive aspects. It’s only later that you learn there are no shops that can be reached on foot or that the nightlife you enjoy is non-existent.

We’ve spoken to a great many tenants who admit they’ve made snap decisions in the past. Sometimes those decisions work out well, at other times the result has been less successful. The perceived pressure to secure a place to live, particularly when the demand for properties is high, can lead to months or years of frustration.

Satisfying the wish list isn’t always easy, but how you feel about where you live is massively important for your wellbeing. That’s why we’d recommend starting the hunt for your next home with a wish list that goes beyond the basics. If you want easy access to the countryside but good schools are also crucial, both things should be on your list. It might sound obvious, but it’s very easy to be swayed by a property with great aesthetics and luxury fittings when what really matters is your proximity to family and friends.

Your views may change over time too. Maybe the duration of your commute wasn’t an issue when you were young, free and single, but now you’re a parent, travelling eats into time you’d rather spend with your kids. Maybe easy access to healthcare facilities becomes a priority or you feel it’s time to immerse yourself in a vibrant cultural experience. It’s worth spending the time to re-evaluate, to really get in touch with what you want, and don’t be afraid to trust your intuition. Gut feelings are often spot on.

Despite recommending that you trust your intuition, we’re also going to recommend you ask for advice. Discuss your wish list with us. We promise we’ll do our best to help find what you need. Canvass opinions from people you know. Get out into the neighbourhood you’re considering and get into conversations – if nothing else, you’ll learn whether the locals are friendly. And be aware that even in top-rated places like York and Salisbury, local variations, even on a street by street basis, make all the difference.  In truth, it’s not about those ‘best’ towns and cities that top the lists each year. It’s about you and what’s best for you.