Choosing the right location for children to grow up in can make all the difference in their formative years. 

To help you make the right decision for your family, CIA Landlords have researched the best locations in England to raise a child. We ranked locations around the country based on various important factors, including the number and quality of schools available, average rent prices, and the average cost of preschools. 

If you’re considering a fresh start with your family or simply planning ahead for the future, our findings will guide you towards the perfect city for your children to thrive. We’ll also highlight which areas to avoid, so you can make an informed decision and create the best possible environment for you and your child.

Warrington is the best place in England to raise a child

Our ranking revealed Warrington is the best place to raise a child in England, thanks to an impressive number of high quality schools and very affordable costs. 

Despite only having a population of 211,227 – 19% of whom are children under 16 – Warrington boasts 88 schools, with a fantastic ratio of one school per 461 children. Even more impressive is the fact that 98% of these schools are classed as either good or outstanding, meaning children are guaranteed an excellent education here. 

As for costs, a 3-bed flat outside of Warrington’s centre will set you back just £800 per month on average, making it one of the most affordable locations for renting. Families with younger children also don’t need to spend too much for their little ones’ early learning here, as the average monthly cost for preschool is £910 per child. While this may seem like a lot of money, it’s actually a very reasonable price compared to many other places we looked at. 

Sunderland ranks as the second best place in England to raise a child, with cheaper average rent and preschool costs than Warrington (both £700 per month) but a slightly lower percentage of good or outstanding schools available (91%). However, Sunderland does also boast the lowest school to children ratio, with only 440 children per school.

Sunderland is followed by Kingston upon Hull in third, where families can enjoy the lowest rental costs of all locations we analysed at just £627.50 per month on average. There are, however, fewer schools available with only one per 572 children, and slightly less of them (90%) are classed as good or outstanding.

The top 10 best locations in England to raise a child

Rank Location Number of children per city % of population under 16 Number of schools Ratio of school to children (1 school for every x number of kids) % of good & outstanding schools Average class size Average price of rent for a 3-bed outside of city centre Average price of preschool for 1 child (per month)
1 Warrington 40,582 19.2% 88 461 98% 30 £800.00 £910.00
2 Sunderland 51,042 18.6% 116 440 91% 28 £700.00 £700.00
3 Kingston upon Hull 56,015 21.0% 98 572 90% 29 £627.50 £906.67
4 Walsall 64,646 22.7% 122 530 88% 32 £800.00 £1,050.00
5 Stoke-on-Trent 55,457 21.5% 91 609 85% 32 £723.33 £700.00
6 Wolverhampton 58,732 22.2% 110 534 88% 30 £1,000.00 £1,100.00
7 Bradford 132,488 24.2% 209 634 83% 31 £825.00 n/a
8 Blackpool 26,220 18.6% 44 596 86% 29 £696.67 £666.67
9 Wigan 64,341 19.5% 129 499 91% 23 n/a £1,200.00
10 Milton Keynes 65,980 22.9% 114 579 89% 29 £1,357.14 £1,152.73


Portsmouth and London rank as the worst spots in England for raising a child

Portsmouth ranks as the worst place in England to raise a child, primarily due to scoring very poorly across education metrics.

There are just 61 schools in Portsmouth, which works out as 644 children per school. This also means very large class sizes, with an average of 44 students per class – higher than any other city we looked at. Additionally, only 80% of schools in this city are rated good or outstanding, which means one in five are struggling to meet expected educational standards. 

Costs are also on the higher side in Portsmouth, with rent averaging £1,362.50 per month and monthly preschool costs averaging £1,000. However, these costs are still far cheaper than in the second worst city on the list, London, where both rent (£2,458.87 per month) and preschool (£1,553.41 per month) are much more expensive than anywhere else in the country. 

London does fare better when it comes to education, however, with 94% of its schools rated as good or outstanding.

The 10 worst locations in England to raise a child

Rank Location Number of children per city % of population under 16 Number of schools School to children ratio (1 school for every x number of kids) % of good & outstanding schools Average class size Average price of rent for a 3-bed outside of city centre Average price of preschool for 1 child (per month)
1 Portsmouth 39,280 18.99% 61 644 80% 44 £1,362.50 £1,000.00
2 London 1,791,699 20.37% 2,491 719 94% 30 £2,458.87 £1,553.41
3 Dudley 64,602 19.96% 107 604 78% 32 n/a £1,033.33
4 Bristol 87,087 18.49% 153 569 84% 32 £1,380.95 £1,197.14
5 Southend-on-Sea 36,006 19.94% 52 692 88% 33 £1,466.67 £1,158.00
6 Reading 34,515 19.93% 60 575 87% 32 £1,412.72 £1,337.50
7 Luton 55,626 24.74% 70 795 89% 30 £1,533.33 £1,494.44
8 Southampton 46,848 18.95% 76 616 84% 30 £1,121.43 £1,100.00
9 Swindon 48,862 20.91% 88 555 81% 30 £1,025.00 £1,266.67
10 Leicester 81,991 22.40% 113 726 83% 34 £900.00 £875.00


Preschool costs almost £300 more per month than rent in Kingston upon Hull

Finding affordable housing can be a challenge. But in some locations around the country, families face an even greater challenge in the form of early education costs.

Our research found that full-time private preschool costs on average £279.17 more per month than rent in Kingston upon Hull, which is the biggest price disparity we found. Walsall is next, with preschool costing £250 more per month than rent, followed by Swindon where it costs on average £241.67 more per month. 

While all 3 to 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 free hours of early education annually, this works out as only 15 hours per week over 38 weeks of the year. For parents who need more support, or seek higher quality education for their children, they will have to grapple with the difficult decision of balancing their child’s education against the cost of housing.

Locations where preschool is more expensive than rent

Rank Location Average price of rent for a 3-bed outside the city centre Average price of preschool for 1 child (per month) Cost difference between rent and preschool
1 Kingston upon Hull £627.50 £906.67 £279.17
2 Walsall £800.00 £1,050.00 £250.00
3 Swindon £1,025.00 £1,266.67 £241.67
4 Newcastle upon Tyne £822.22 £975.00 £152.78
5 Derby £867.50 £1,000.00 £132.50
6 Warrington £800.00 £910.00 £110.00
7 Wolverhampton £1,000.00 £1,100.00 £100.00
8 Birmingham £1,120.83 £1,204.21 £83.38
9 Nottingham £915.00 £990.00 £75.00
10 Liverpool £884.62 £936.25 £51.63


Renting to families with children 

Renting out property to families with children comes with a specific set of challenges and rules for landlords to be aware of. To guarantee a smooth rental experience for both you and your tenants, here are some important things to keep in mind.

  • Check local housing laws: Familiarise yourself with regulations regarding renting to families with children. Though refusing tenants based on familial status isn’t technically illegal in the UK, it could be considered discrimination under the Equality Act.
  • Be transparent with rental policies: This includes providing information about any restrictions, rules, or regulations related to children, such as limits on the number of occupants or noise restrictions.
  • Document property conditions: Prior to move-in, thoroughly document the condition of the property through written and visual records. This helps protect both parties and avoids disputes over damages that may arise during the tenancy (which may or may not be covered by general landlord insurance). 
  • Create a child-friendly environment: Ensure that the rental property is safe and child-friendly. This might mean taking measures such as securing cabinets, covering electrical outlets, and ensuring the absence of hazardous materials or structures that could pose a risk to children.

Creating a safe and welcoming environment for families with children not only benefits tenants, but can also attract responsible, long-term renters and contribute to a positive rental experience for both parties.

Methodology & Sources

We created an index to determine the best locations in England to raise a child, based on the top 30 most populated cities (not including London boroughs).

The metrics considered for each location were:

Each location was awarded an overall index score based on these metrics, then ranked from highest to lowest score.

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