When it comes to buying a new home, location is a big consideration. Naturally, you will be analysing the house prices, the length of your commute, the transport links, the local schools, as well as amenities. But, above all, the most important thing to consider is how safe the area is. Is crime rife in the area? Is the location prone to severe weather events, like flooding?
To determine the safest areas to live in the UK, we analysed the following five key factors in each district in the UK:
- Crime rates
- Flood risks
- The number of buildings within a 2km radius of a fire station
- The number of buildings within a 2km radius of a hospital
- Streetlight maintenance
From this, we created an index-style ranking system, giving each factor a score out of 100, and uncovered the UK’s safest (and unsafest) locations to reside in the UK for each factor and overall.
Which area is the safest to buy a home?
We can reveal Manchester is the safest area to buy a home in the UK, with an overall safety score of 85 out of 100 in our study. With one of the highest streetlight expenditures in the UK, the district fell short of full marks due to having one of the highest building to fire station and hospital ratios.
Following closely behind with a score of 80 out of 100 and ranking in second place is East Riding of Yorkshire. Alongside Manchester, the district also scores highly for streetlight expenditure and also has a low crime rate, making the area one of the safest to live in the UK.
Unsurprisingly, due to its proximity to first place, is Stockport situated in Greater Manchester. We found the district is the third safest area to live in the UK with a safety score of 79 out of 100, predominantly due to its high streetlight expenditure, low crime and flood risks.
On the other hand, our study can reveal the least safest UK areas to live in the UK are Harlow and Wyre Forest, with shocking safety scores of just 17 and 19, respectively, out of 100. Pendle and Hyndburn also rank among the least safe areas to live in the UK, each scoring 21 out of 100.
A breakdown of each factor
Which areas have the lowest crime rates?
Low crime rates are a top priority for virtually every homeowner, but which area is the safest of all?
With an impressive crime rate of just 0.02 per 1,000 residents, the Scottish Borders is the safest district in the UK when it comes to crime, scoring an impressive safety score of 100 out of 100. The Scottish district reported zero crime offences between 2018 and 2021, resulting in the lowest crime rate across the UK. Following closely behind is fellow southern Scottish district, Dumfries and Galloway, with a crime rate of 0.08 per 1,000 residents in the area, and a safety score of 99.7 out of 100.
The third safest area based on crime rates alone is Stockport, in Greater Manchester, with a rate of 15.49 per 1,000 people and an almost perfect safety score of 99.4. Despite a rise from places first and second, Stockport’s crime rate is still low, especially compared to the City of London with 178.14 crimes per 1,000 residents, making it the area with the most crime in the UK.
Middlesbrough and Blackpool are also among the areas with the highest levels of crime per 1,000 residents. We can reveal Middlesbrough, based in North East England, has a crime rate of 51.93 per 1,000 people, followed by Blackpool, on the North West coast, with 51.36, resulting in a safety score of less than one out of 100.
Which areas have the lowest flood risks?
The UK has been hit with several natural disasters over the years, including heavy rain and flooding. As the climate crisis accelerates, we can expect even more severe weather events and damage to our homes. But which area is safest and least prone to flooding?
We can reveal Dumfries and Galloway have the least chance of floods, with just 0.01% of 71,886 properties in the area at risk of medium to high-level flooding. As a result, the district has received a perfect safety score of 100 out of 100.
The London boroughs of Southwark and Kensington and Chelsea are also among the districts least prone to flooding, with both areas having a risk of just 0.03% and receiving a safety score of 99.7 and 99.4 out of 100, respectively. Interestingly, of the top 10 districts at least risk of flooding, six are situated in London, suggesting that the English capital is one of the safest areas when it comes to flooding.
On the other hand, 53.38% of properties in Eden in Cumbria, North West England, are at risk of medium to high-level flooding and, therefore, the most prone to severe weather events, resulting in a safety score of 0 out of 100. The North Yorkshire district of Craven follows with 42.01% of the 20,858 properties in the area prone to severe flooding, and the North-Eastern district of Northumberland with 38.44% of 94,512 buildings at high risk of floods. Each of these districts has been awarded a poor safety score of 0.4 and 0.7 out of 100, respectively.
Which areas have the most accessible fire stations?
In case of emergencies, living near a fire station can be very handy, should you need help putting out a fire or require rescuing. So, we investigated which areas have the most properties within 2km of a fire station to determine which district is most likely to receive help the quickest.
The area with the least number of buildings within a 2km radius of a fire station is the City of London, with 2,893, resulting in a score of 100 out of 100 for safety. However, this could be explained due to the City of London being a very small area, covering only a square mile and with a very small resident population (8,000).
In second is Ribble Valley, based in Lancashire, with 3,428 buildings within a 2km radius of a fire station, as the district has a safety score of 99.6 out of 100. Wyre Forest follows behind with 3,712 buildings and a safety score of 99.3.
However, Birmingham has the most properties within 2km of a fire station, amassing almost 90,000 buildings. As a result, the district has been awarded a score of 0 out of 100. Not far behind is Leeds, with 73,023 buildings within a 2km radius, and Cornwall, with 66,708 buildings. Both districts, therefore, score just 0.3 and 0.6 out of 100, respectively.
Which areas have the most accessible hospitals?
Accidents happen and when they do, being near a hospital is favourable to ensure you have access to the help you need as soon as possible. Therefore, as part of our safety index, we investigated which areas have the most properties within 2km of a hospital if you need to visit and receive expert treatment.
Our analysis shows residents in South Staffordshire are most likely to receive help promptly as there are just 541 dwellings within a 2km radius of a hospital. As a result, the district has a safety score of 100 out of 100, meaning it is the safest area for hospital care in the UK. However, this is a far cry from nearby Birmingham, where there are 69,681 properties within a 2km radius of their local hospital, resulting in a safety score of 0.
North West Leicestershire follows South Staffordshire, with a safety score of 99.6 out of 100 as there are 1,429 properties within a 2km radius of the district’s local hospital. Richmondshire, based in North Yorkshire, comes next with 2,034 buildings within 2km of hospitals and a score of 99.3.
Similarly to Birmingham, other notable UK cities with a high property to hospital ratio include Leeds, Cornwall, Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Liverpool. In particular, Liverpool has 36,757 buildings within a 2km radius of hospitals, which may explain why the CQC recently said Liverpool hospitals are not treating patients quickly enough, resulting in “overcrowding and delays”.
Which areas spend the most money on streetlight maintenance?
Over the years, many councils have decided to cut streetlight spending in order to save money, however, this can cause safety concerns among residents. As a result, to identify which districts regularly repair their streetlights to ensure they are in working order, we analysed how much money each district spends on streetlight maintenance between 2019 and 2020 – the more they spend, the safer they are.
Despite having a high property to hospital ratio, the district of Birmingham comes out on top, with streetlight expenditure racking up to £24,317 and a safety score of 100 out of 100. Spending just £4,000 less than Birmingham is Leeds, with streetlight expenditure adding up to £20,241 overall between 2019 and 2020 and a safety score of 99.6 – the second highest in the UK. Despite spending £15,884 less than its neighbour, Birmingham, in first place, Coventry is still among the top three safest streets in the UK with a score of 99.3 out of 100.
Out of 295 districts studied, we can reveal that 107 didn’t spend a single penny on streetlight maintenance in 2019 and 2020. Some of these districts include Sunderland, Brighton and Hove, St Albans, Woking, Mansfield, Guildford, Gloucester, Hertsmere, and Cambridge, to name a few.
How to find the best place to live?
Deciding on a new area to settle in is challenging and one of the most important decisions you will make. Get it wrong, and you will be unhappy or having to face the costs of moving once again.
This is why it is crucial that you thoroughly research the area you’ve pinpointed. The more likely you are to find somewhere you love that ticks (most) of the boxes, the less likely you will be to leave.
Here are some things to ask yourself:
- Do the nearby shops and facilities fit your lifestyle?
- Does the area have good transport links?
- What are the traffic levels like, especially during rush hour?
- What are the schools like? Will the property fit into the catchment area?
- Are you happy with the surrounding environment?
- What is the air quality like?
- What do you think of the wider community?
- Has the area got high flood risks?
- What is the crime rate like in the area?
- Are there any employment opportunities?
- Is there access to medical services?
Once you have considered each of these points, you’ll soon know if the area is right for you.
- Homedit were intrigued to uncover the UK’s safest location to live in, utilising a number of official sources to create an index-style ranking.
- The factors analysed in each UK district were:
- Crime rates
- Flood risk
- Total number of hospitals relative to the area
- Total number of fire stations relative to the area
- Firstly, using Data Police, crime incidences from 2018 to 2021 were collated from each district and then filtered to uncover the average crime incidence over the three years. The data was then organised into districts using population estimates from ONS and Boundary-Line data. Secondly, calculations for crime rates per 1,000 people in a population, and crime trends for years relative to 2019-2020 were processed. The crimes analysed within the study include anti-social behaviour, bicycle theft, burglary, criminal damage, drugs, possession of weapons, public order, robbery, shoplifting, theft from the person, vehicle crime, violent and sexual offences, other crime, and other theft.
- Each districts flood risk was determined using ONS’ risk of flooding data. The areas likely to experience floods were assigned a flood-risk from very low, low, medium, to high. The total percentage of buildings at risk of flooding relative to all buildings within that district were calculated.
- Streetlight expenditure was then extracted from each district using Gov’s most recent local authority revenue and expenditure report. The data was used to compile the final outturn of local authority revenue expenditure and financing on streetlights. The local authority data was then converted into districts.
- The number of hospitals and fire stations were web-scraped to discover the postcode of the locations in each district. The number and location of fire stations were found using UK Fire Stations. The number and location of hospitals were found using Gov data [England] [Scotland] [Wales]. The postcodes were reverse geocoded to obtain latitude and longitude coordinates, these were then plotted onto a spatial software to create a 2km buffer around each hospital and fire station. To source the number of buildings per area, OS Open Zoomstack was utilised. This led to the rankings of cities with the most accessible hospitals and fire stations.
- The final rankings were calculated with a percentile rank on the above variables. Percentile ranks are commonly used to clarify the interpretation of scores on standardised tests, using a score of 0 to 100, with 100 being the safest area to own a home.
*Northern Ireland was excluded from the study due to a lack of data among multiple variables. Multiple districts across the UK were excluded due to a lack of data, leaving the rankings to analyse 295 districts (a number of those excluded include Buckinghamshire, Glasgow City, Cardiff, Camden, and South Lanarkshire).
The full dataset can be found here.