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Written by
Tim Knighton
Life, health and income protection insurance expert
10 MARCH 2023
6 min read
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The top cities for raising a family in the UK and Europe

Every family has different priorities when deciding where to settle down and raise their children, with some locations simply ticking off more on the wish list than others.

With this in mind, we’ve analysed and ranked 40 capital cities across Europe based on property prices, cost of living, pollution levels, crime rates, and quality of life, to help parents discover the top cities to raise a family. And for those who aren’t looking to move abroad, we’ve also looked at the top towns and cities in the UK.

Top Cities for Raising a Family in Europe

Tallinn, Estonia, ranks as the top city to raise a family in Europe in 2023

Whether you’ve got a little one on the way, or your children are in their teens, Tallinn ranks number one as Europe’s top city for raising a family.

The capital of Estonia, Tallinn has the fourth-lowest crime rate out of the top 10 cities, and the fifth-lowest in the overall ranking, scoring 24 out of 100 (a lower score equals a lower crime level). It also has the fourth-highest quality of life score out of the top 10 cities, receiving 170 points out of a possible 240.

Out of the top 10 cities, Tallinn also has the fourth-lowest rental costs, with a three-bed apartment costing an average of £714 per month. For those looking to purchase, the average cost per square metre is £2,333.

Lithuania’s capital Vilnius follows in second place overall, with the average rent for a three-bed apartment ranking as the third cheapest of the top 10 cities to raise a family at just £699 per month.

Revealed to be one of the safest cities in the ranking, Zagreb comes in third with a crime score of 22 out of 100. Here rent residents pay £578 on average per month for a three-bed apartment and costs for a property come to £2,225 per square metre, making it the second-cheapest city in the top 10 for renters and buyers.

Ljubljana and Vienna complete the top five best cities to raise a family in Europe. Ljubljana and Vienna are home to some of the lowest pollution levels, scoring 23 and 17 out of 100, respectively.

Which are the cheapest cities in Europe for renting and buying a home?

To determine the cheapest cities for renting and buying, we compared the average monthly cost to rent a three-bed apartment outside the city centre and the average property cost per metre squared to create an overall score.

Chișinău in Moldova is revealed to be the most affordable location for buying (£704 per square metre), however it's Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina that’s the cheapest for renters (£274).

Rank Capital Country Average rent for 3-bed (£) Average property price per m(£)
1 Chișinău Moldova £353 £704
2 Skopje Macedonia £284 £1,057
3 Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina £274 £1,108
4 Tirana Albania £398 £902
5 Minsk Belarus £405 £979
6 Podgorica Montenegro £385 1,168
7 Riga Latvia £474 £1,235
8 Bucharest Romania £470 £1,278
9 Sofia Bulgaria £482 £1,384
10 Belgrade Serbia £649 £1,692

Which are the safest cities to raise a family in Europe?

Safety is a priority for all families, whether children are still young or in their teens. Crime levels in Bern, Switzerland are the lowest of the cities analysed, at just 18 out of 100, potentially making it one of the safest locations to raise a family. Ljubljana and Zagreb follow with a crime index of 22.

Locations in Europe with the lowest crime rates:

Rank Capital Country Crime index score
1 Bern Switzerland 18
2 Ljubljana Slovenia 22
3 Zagreb Croatia 22
4 Reykjavík Iceland 23
5 Tallinn Estonia 24
6 Prague Czech Republic 25
7 Helsinki Finland 25
8 Warsaw Poland 26
9 Copenhagen Denmark 26
10 Vienna Austria 27

Which are the least polluted locations in Europe?

If air and water quality are concerns for your family, Bern in Switzerland is a great location to consider relocating to, as it has the lowest pollution levels out of every city in our analysis (10 out of 100). Helsinki and Reykjavík are also good options with 13 and 14 respectively.

Rank Capital Country Pollution index score
1 Bern Switzerland 10
2 Helsinki Finland 13
3 Reykjavík Iceland 14
4 Vienna Austria 17
5 Stockholm Sweden 18
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg 19
7 Copenhagen Denmark 21
8 Tallinn Estonia 21
9 Vilnius Lithuania 23
10 Oslo Norway 23

Where in Europe offers families the best quality of life?

Bern is also the best place to relocate to if quality of life is your family’s top priority, scoring 214 out of a possible 240. Austria’s capital Vienna ranks second with a score of 202, and Luxembourg follows very closely behind in third with 201.

Rank Capital Country Quality of Life Score
1 Bern Switzerland 214
2 Vienna Austria 202
3 Luxembourg Luxembourg 201
4 Helsinki Finland 193
5 Reykjavík Iceland 189
6 Amsterdam Netherlands 189
7 Copenhagen Denmark 188
8 Oslo Norway 179
9 Tallinn Estonia 170
10 Ljubljana Slovenia 166

Where are the top places in the UK to raise a family?

Middlesbrough revealed as the best location to raise a family in the UK in 2023

For parents who’d prefer to stay in the UK, our research reveals that Middlesbrough is the number one place to raise a family. Just 20 minutes from one of the UK’s premier surfing hotspots at Saltburn beach, renting a three-bedroom apartment in the town is more affordable than anywhere else in the UK, at just £600 per month.

On top of affordable rent, families who relocate to Middlesbrough will also benefit from low pollution levels (20 out of 100) and a high quality of life score (198 out of a possible 240).

Although, parents could potentially be put off by the town’s moderate crime level, scoring 45 out of 100 for this metric.

How much does it cost to buy and rent in the UK’s top 10 cities for families?

It’s cheaper for families to rent in Middlesbrough than any other UK city analysed, with a three-bedroom apartment costing an average of just £600 per month. However, if you’re looking to buy rather than rent, Bournemouth is the most cost-effective city to purchase a property at £708 per square metre.

Rank City Average rent for 3-bed (£) Average property price per m(£)
1 Stoke-on-Trent £723 £850
2 Kingston upon Hull £628 £1,243
3 Bradford £825 £1,463
4 Middlesbrough £600 £2,300
5 Swindon £1,025 £1,267
6 Swansea £1,000 £1,395
7 Liverpool £873 £1,918
8 Bournemouth £1,210 £708
=9 Leicester £900 £1,900
=9 Aberdeen £827 £2,171
10 Belfast £856 £2,400

Which UK locations have the lowest crime rates?

Our research found that Norwich has the lowest crime rates when compared to other UK locations in the ranking, with a low score of 26 out of 100. The Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen follow with 31 and 34.

Rank City/Town Crime index score
1 Norwich 26
2 Edinburgh 31
3 Aberdeen 34
4 Swansea 35
5 Brighton 37
6 Cardiff 38
7 Newcastle upon Tyne 39
8 Plymouth 40
9 Bristol 41
10 Bournemouth 41

Where are the least polluted locations in the UK?

We tend to associate better air quality with the countryside, which could inspire many parents to venture beyond major cities like London. Milton Keynes has the lowest pollution levels with an index score of 19 out of 100, while Middlesbrough and Swansea follow with 20 and 24 respectively.

Rank City Pollution index score
1 Milton Keynes 19
2 Middlesbrough 20
3 Swansea 24
4 Brighton 26
5 Belfast 27
6 Aberdeen 28
7 Edinburgh 29
8 Derby 30
9 Liverpool 31
10 Sheffield 31

Which UK locations offer the best quality of life for families?

Milton Keynes also offers families the best quality of life, with a score of 202 out of a possible 240. Middlesbrough, which ranks number one overall, comes second with a score of 198 and Aberdeen follows closely behind with 196.

Rank City Quality of Life Score
1 Milton Keynes 202
2 Middlesbrough 198
3 Aberdeen 196
4 Swansea 188
5 Norwich 185
6 Edinburgh 184
7 Stoke-on-Trent 182
8 Portsmouth 181
9 Leicester 179
10 Newcastle upon Tyne 179

As parents, priorities completely change and what were once important factors to you are no longer necessities as you grow your family, so choosing where to live can often be a difficult choice.

Wanting the best for our families is a natural feeling, and life insurance can be a welcome safety net if you want to protect your family if the worst happens. Life insurance can be combined with other products, such as critical illness cover, to pay your bills if you are unable to work due to death or certain serious illnesses. It’s important to thoroughly research different types of life insurance to ensure the policy you opt for offers the right level of protection for your family.

Sources & Methodology

To determine the best cities in Europe to raise a family, we used a seedlist of all 44 European countries and their capitals, analysing the following data points and compiling them into a weighted index.

  • Average rent price for a 3-bedroom apartment
  • Average property price meter m2
  • Estimated costs for a family of 4
  • Pollution levels
  • Crime levels
  • Overall quality of live

The index is based on the average across all ranked scores. Vatican City, San Marino, Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Monaco were removed due to multiple missing data points, and Russia and Ukraine were also removed due to the current conflict.

The same methodology and metrics were used for the UK ranking, based on a seedlist of the 40 most populated cities and towns in the UK. Peterborough, Warrington, Sunderland, Huddersfield, Northampton, Bolton, Wolverhampton, and Southend-on-Sea were removed from the final index due to missing metrics.

To determine the cheapest cities for renting and buying, an index score was applied to the average cost to rent a three-bed apartment outside the city centre and the average property cost per metre squared.