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Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance expert
Posted
26 JUNE 2024
7 min read
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The top locations in the UK for an ageing population


With the number of people over 85 projected to triple by 2066, deciding where to settle down becomes a crucial decision, impacting everything from healthcare access to daily enjoyment. To help navigate this important choice, we've carried out research to discover which UK locations are currently the best set-up for an ageing population.

To do this, we investigated 32 of the UK’s most populated towns and cities and compared them against a series of ranges of data points. These include the number of people of retirement age, the number of care homes, the rating of the healthcare system, life satisfaction, average weekly care home costs and the number of parks, bingo halls and fish and chip shops.

Top 10 locations in the UK for an ageing population

1. Nottingham

Taking the top spot for the most suitable location in the UK for an ageing population is Nottingham. The city currently has a relatively low proportion of residents at retirement age (just under 5%), however, it offers the highest number of care homes per 10,000 pensioners (a staggering 130).

Adding to the appeal, residential homes in Nottingham come with one of the lowest weekly costs on our list, averaging £875. Residential care homes offer a safe place and support with day-to-day activities such as dressing, cleaning and taking medication.

If staying active is a priority, Nottingham won't disappoint. With 40 parks across the city, there are a very respectable 11 parks per 10,000 pensioners, offering ample green space for walks, picnics, or simply enjoying the outdoors.

2. Norwich

Following closely behind in second place is Norwich, where 9.6% of its population is over the retirement age. While Norwich does provide a respectable number of care homes with 102 per 10,000 pensioners, it is slightly lower than Nottingham (130), and the weekly cost for a residential home in Norwich is also a touch steeper, averaging £953.

However, Norwich does keep pace with Nottingham when it comes to green spaces. The city boasts 12 parks per 10,000 pensioners, ensuring easy access to nature for its older residents.

3. Edinburgh

In third is Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. The city is home to the highest percentage of residents at retirement age within our top 10 contenders (16.6%), though considerably fewer care homes (26 per 10,000 pensioners) compared to Nottingham and Norwich. In addition, weekly residential home costs are higher here too, averaging £1,023.

Despite this, the city has the highest quality of life score of all locations analysed (7.7 out of 11), as well as a highly rated healthcare system (scoring 77.6 out of 100). This evaluates the overall quality of the healthcare system in an area, including healthcare professionals, equipment, and costs.

Edinburgh also throws in the bonus of having the most fish and chip shops per 10,000 pensioners on our list (27) – a delightful perk for anyone who enjoys this quintessentially British treat.

Rank City Percentage of the population of retirement age Number of care homes per 10k pensioners Life Satisfaction Score (out of 11) Rating of Healthcare System Average weekly residential home costs Number of parks per 10k pensioners Number of bingo clubs per 10k pensioners Number of fish and chip shops per 10k pensioners
1 Nottingham 4.9% 130 7.2 67.8 £875 11 1.1 17
2 Norwich 9.6% 102 7.3 77.9 £953 12 1.0 19
3 Edinburgh 16.6% 26 7.7 77.6 £1,023 10 0.6 27
4 Manchester 12.5% 95 7.0 75.4 £858 14 0.8 12
5 Leicester 8.2% 61 7.4 72.5 £875 9 1.4 10
6 Preston 6.7% 75 7.4 78.9 £858 7 0.5 17
7 Kingston upon Hull 12.4% 49 7.4 69.6 £867 8 1.8 8
8 Blackpool 11.6% 31 7.5 71.3 £858 5 1.8 11
9 Liverpool 8.2% 47 7.1 82.7 £858 7 1.3 9
10 Reading 6.3% 65 7.4 75.5 £1,064 12 0.5 15

When looking at the residential home cost data specifically, the research shows that the North is the most affordable, with all the top five cheapest locations located in the North East or North West. Sunderland and Manchester are the most affordable, with average weekly costs of £852 and £858 per week respectively.

The least suitable locations in the UK for an ageing population

While some locations excel in catering to retirees, others present challenges. Our research found that locations in the West Midlands are the least suitable of all for an ageing population, with all five of the least suitable locations being in this region.

1. Birmingham

Birmingham ranks as the least suitable location in the UK for an ageing population. It offers a lower number of care homes per 10,000 pensioners (37) compared to many other locations, which could potentially limit choice and accessibility for those seeking care. On top of that, Birmingham has some of the highest weekly costs for residential homes in the UK, averaging a hefty £1,122.

Life satisfaction levels are also rated slightly lower here, with a score of 7.2 out of 11, which falls on the lower end of the spectrum in the UK, indicating a less positive overall experience for residents. Additionally, with only six parks per 10,000 pensioners, access to green spaces appears limited, which could be a drawback for those who value spending time outdoors.

2. Dudley

Dudley comes in second, presenting similar problems to Birmingham. Despite 31.6% of the population in Dudley being of retirement age, the town offers the lowest number of care homes per 10,000 pensioners across the entire UK, at just eight. This scarcity could significantly restrict options for those needing care.

Similar to Birmingham, Dudley is also home to some of the highest weekly residential home costs (£1,122). In addition, Dudley offers zero bingo clubs, which is considered a popular pastime for many retirees.

3. Coventry

As with Birmingham and Dudley, Coventry has relatively few care homes available (31 per 10,000 pensioners) with a very high cost attached. It also received the worst healthcare system rating of all locations analysed at 53.8, reflecting concerns about the quality of and access to healthcare professionals, equipment, and also affordability.

That being said, with seven parks per 10,000 pensioners, Coventry does provide more green space compared to Birmingham. It also boasts a higher number of bingo clubs (1.5 per 10,000) and fish and chip shops (4 per 10,000) compared to Dudley.

Rank City Percentage of the population of retirement age Number of care homes per 10k pensioners Life Satisfaction Score (out of 11) Health Care System Score  Average weekly residential home costs Number of parks per 10k pensioners Number of bingo clubs per 10k pensioners Number of fish and chip shops per 10k pensioners 
1 Birmingham 14.5%  37 7.2 72.1 £1,122   6 0.6 4
2 Dudley 31.6% 8 7.4 77.2 £1,122  9 0.0 1
3 Coventry 13.3% 31  7.4  53.8 £1,122   7 1.5 4
4 Wolverhampton 16.4%  35 7.3 85.0 £1,122   4 0.2 7
5 Stoke-on-Trent 11.4% 32 7.2  81.1 £1,122  4 0.9 4
6 Luton 9.7%  25 7.3 71.1 £953  4 0.4 4
7 Swansea  15.6% 38 7.5 65.3 £955 4 0.2 4
8 London 13.2% 25 7.4 70.0 £1,128 10 0.3 9
9 Sunderland 16.1%  17 7.3 57.9 £852 5 0.9 4
10 Newport 8.4% 32  7.3 78.0 £955 4 0.4 5

When should you get life insurance?

Life insurance provides a crucial financial safety net for your loved ones in the event of your passing. This is especially important to consider as we age and settle into our golden years.

According to Anna McEntee from the life insurance team at Compare the Market:

Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“Taking out the right life insurance policy is a decision that should ideally be made earlier in life, as it typically costs less when you’re younger and healthier. However, it's never too late to ensure your loved ones are protected financially. As we age, our situation and financial commitments may change, and so may our life insurance plan. Here are some pointers to consider:

  • Life insurance becomes more expensive as you get older. Locking in a lower rate when you're younger can provide significant savings in the long run.
  • Review your life insurance needs at key life stages. Getting married, having children, or buying a home are all times to reassess your coverage.
  • Consider your health. Pre-existing health conditions may affect your eligibility or rates, so don't delay if you're thinking about getting coverage. You may also want to consider critical illness cover, which offers protection in the event you become seriously ill or injured.
  • Shop around and compare quotes. Don't settle for the first policy you find. Get quotes from different providers to ensure you're getting the best coverage for your needs and budget.

“Ultimately, life insurance becomes increasingly important as we reach retirement age. There are even specific options available for seniors, such as life insurance for over 65s, over 70s, and so on. It’s worth considering all the options on offer to find the best coverage for you and your loved ones.”

- Anna McEntee, Insurance expert

Methodology

Compare the Market pulled together a seedlist of the top 32 most populated towns and cities in the UK. The cities were then ranked according to the following metrics:

The latest available data was used and was accurate at the time of the research in April 2024.

Tim Knighton - Life, health and income protection insurance expert

"The fact that over 50s life insurance offers guaranteed acceptance is a huge benefit. You don’t need to worry about passing any health checks and you can make sure your beneficiaries are looked after. Just make sure that you plan for inflation, otherwise you might leave your loved ones short when they need" 

Learn more about Tim