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The best UK cities for couples that want to settle

Written by
Tim Knighton
Life, health and income protection insurance expert
Last Updated
5 APRIL 2024
7 min read
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The journey through adulthood is paved with life-changing milestones and taking that next step in your relationship can be one of them. Deciding to settle with your partner isn’t the only important decision you’re going to have to make, though. From the amenities on offer to how much you can expect to be paid, the area you decide to move to will impact both your career and lifestyle. With so many factors that will influence your decision, where are the best places for couples to settle in the UK?

To find out, the home insurance team at Compare the Market looked at 30 of the UK’s most populated cities. The research considered a variety of metrics, including average salaries, mortgage interest rates, the number of job opportunities at the time of research, as well as the average costs for rent, utilities, and transport.

The top 10 cities for couples to settle down in

1. Southend-on-Sea

Taking the crown as the top UK city for couples to settle down in is Southend-on-Sea, thanks to relatively high wages, and a low cost of living.

Rent in the city averages at £800 per month for a one-bed apartment in the city centre, which, while not the cheapest price, is much more affordable than in the likes of London (£2,219) or Milton Keynes (£1,975). For those looking to buy a home in the city, mortgage interest rates match the national average of 5.90% for a 20-year fixed-rate. 

The coastal town offers the second-cheapest cost for utilities, averaging £128 per month, and getting around the city is also quite affordable, with a monthly transport pass costing around £45. Thanks to these low costs, young adults could be set to save significantly in the city, as average salaries are as high as £2,713 per month — the fifth-highest amount of all the cities in the study. 

While there were only 11,645 job opportunities available at the time of research, the city’s population is on the smaller side (295,310), so for every 100,000 people, there are around 3,950 vacancies in the city.

2. Sunderland

Coming in second place is Sunderland, with the second-cheapest rent of all cities in the study, at £590. Those buying a house in the northern city will face the same interest rates as in Southend-on-Sea, with a 20-year fixed-rate averaging 5.90%. 

Commuting in the city is very affordable, as monthly transport passes cost as little as £24 — the lowest price in the study. Couples can also head out for a meal without breaking the bank, as a three-course meal for two averages £30. 

However, salaries in Sunderland perhaps correlate to this low cost of living, as the average monthly take home is around £1,500, which is the lowest amount within the study. 

3. Luton

In third place is Luton and although rent is a little pricier here at £1,013, mortgage interest rates are the lowest in the country (5.39% for those looking to buy with a 20-year fixed-rate). 

Average monthly salaries are higher here than in Sunderland, at £1,989, but the cost of living is also slightly more expensive, with utilities averaging £276 per month and monthly transport passes costing around £68. Heading out to eat in the city is relatively affordable though, with three-course meals for two coming in at just £37.50 on average. 

Derby and Reading round off the top five best cities in the UK for couples to settle. In particular, Derby has plenty of job opportunities on offer, with 34,902 vacancies available at the time of research.

Rank City Avg. salary post-tax (monthly) Avg. rent 1-bed apartment (monthly) Mortgage interest rate in % Avg. utilities cost (monthly) Cost of a three-course meal for 2 people Avg. cost of a monthly transport pass No. of job opportunities
1 Southend-on-Sea £2,713 £800 5.90% £128 £60 £45 11,645
2 Sunderland £1,500 £590 5.90% £220 £30 £24 11,787
3 Luton £1,989 £1,013 5.39% £276 £38 £68 12,869
4 Derby £2,195 £650 5.90% £224 £50 £58 34,902
5 Reading £2,859 £1,236 5.90% £175 £65 £66 51,746
6 Bradford £1,900 £600 5.76% £216 £50 £57 12,961
7 Birmingham £2,391 £973 5.92% £246 £50 £58 25,513
8 Nottingham £2,301 £975 5.90% £239 £50 £76 33,889
9 Wolverhampton £2,033 £725 5.90% £233 £50 £60 12,293
10 Preston £2,670 £775 5.93% £340 £60 £52 27,716


The UK cities least-suited for couples to settle down in

1. Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent ranks as the least-suited city for couples looking to settle down. Despite offering the cheapest rent of all cities (£550 per month), it can be an expensive place to live. Utilities average around £543 per month, meals out (£60) and monthly transport passes (£65) are also quite expensive.

For those purchasing a new home, monthly mortgage interest rates are as high as 6.60% — the most expensive of all cities analysed. Earnings in the city also don’t seem to correlate to the higher living costs, as monthly salaries are around £1,818 per month, which is the third-lowest amount in the study. 

There aren’t as many job opportunities here either, with only 12,553 vacancies available at the time of the study. 

2. Coventry

Coventry ranks in second place, with rent in the city averaging £1,625 per month, which is the third-highest amount in the study. Meanwhile, homeowners can expect to face interest rates of around 6.39% for a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage, and utilities cost around £307 per month. 

Salaries are much higher here than in Stoke-on-Trent however, at around £2,732 per month, which means young adults might find it slightly more affordable to live here.

3. Edinburgh

In third place is Edinburgh where the average mortgage interest rate is lower than in the likes of Stoke-on-Trent or Coventry, at 6.14% — though this is still significantly higher than the national average. At a rate of £1,278 per month for a one-bed apartment, the rent is also on the higher end.

Despite this, salaries are relatively high in the Scottish city, averaging £2,409 per month, and there is nearly double the number of job opportunities compared to Stoke-on-Trent, with 20,281 vacancies at the time of research. 

Milton Keynes and Manchester round off the top five least-suited cities for couples to settle. Young adults might find plenty of career opportunities in Manchester though, as there are currently 50,646 vacancies on offer in the northern city — the third-highest number of all locations in the study.

Rank City Avg. salary post-tax (monthly) Avg. rent 1-bed apartment (monthly) Mortgage interest rate in % Avg. utilities cost (monthly) Cost of a three-course meal for 2 people Avg. cost of a monthly transport pass No. of job opportunities
1 Stoke-on-Trent £1,818 £550 6.60% £543 £60 £65 12,553
2 Coventry £2,732 £1,625 6.39% £307 £65 £50 14,613
3 Edinburgh £2,409 £1,278 6.14% £249 £75 £62 20,281
4 Milton Keynes £2,914 £1,975 6.08% £272 £65 £59 15,257
5 Manchester £2,142 £1,166 6.21% £274 £60 £80 50,646
6 Leicester £2,008 £1,017 5.90% £450 £50 £64 35,626
7 Sheffield £2,023 £811 5.90% £341 £60 £73 14,804
8 Liverpool £1,973 £838 5.94% £319 £60 £68 16,092
9 London £3,268 £2,219 5.57% £303 £80 £195 184,128
10 Bristol £2,452 £1,395 5.93% £227 £60 £84 23,857


Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“Settling down in a new home is a memorable milestone and one of the most important decisions you make in your adult life. You don’t, however, want this special moment to be ruined by unexpected problems, such as the loss or damage to your belongings. That’s why it’s important to purchase insurance when moving home

“If you’ve decided to buy a property, you will be responsible for insuring the building as well as your belongings. This means that you should think about protecting your assets with a policy that combines both building and contents insurance. However, if you’re happy to rent and simply looking to settle somewhere long-term, all you need to worry about are your possessions. We recommend that you protect them with contents insurance for renters.

“Wherever you choose to live, make sure to do your research ahead of time. Think about what’s most important to you, whether that’s the cost of living, safety, amenities, or transport links in an area, and work from there to find the perfect new home for you and your partner.”

- Anna McEntee, from the home insurance team at Compare the Market

Source & Methodology

Based on a seedlist of the UK’s 30 most populated cities, the home insurance team at Compare the Market used a number of metrics to determine which were the best for young people to settle down in: 

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