UK's most affordable cities for families 2024

Deciding where to settle down and raise a family can be a tough decision. The current financial climate is affecting nearly every area of our daily lives, and with high interest rates continuing to impact the housing sector, the affordability of a location is becoming more important for parents (and soon-to-be parents). But, which UK cities are the most affordable for families to settle in 2024?

Our latest research has analysed 39 of the most populated cities across the country to determine which are the least expensive for raising children. The research has ranked the cities based on a range of factors including: property prices, the cost of rent, utilities, and childcare, as well as the average monthly salary in each location. The quality of life on offer is also a big factor when choosing where to live, so we’ve also looked at the happiness levels of residents in each city. 

The top 10 most affordable UK cities for families

RankCityCost of renting a 3-bed home (per month)*Cost of purchasing a propertyCost of utilities (per month)Cost of childcare (per month)Average gross salary (per year)Happiness score (out of 10)Score
3Newcastle upon Tyne£988£182,500£257£850£32,5187.57.52
6Kingston upon Hull£685£131,000£208£1,038£28,8707.47.36

*Outside of the city centre.

1. Peterborough

Taking the crown as the most affordable city to raise a family in the UK is Peterborough. While average property prices are relatively high at around £235,000 (to compare, Dundee has the lowest house prices with an average of £128,250), residents enjoy some of the cheapest prices for bills and childcare across the whole of the UK. For working parents, childcare is also just £700 per month in Peterborough — the second cheapest price in the study. 

This lower cost of living is perhaps reflective of a slightly lower than average salary, however. Residents of Peterborough take home an average income of £32,941 per year — which is around £2,000 less than the national average of £34,900

2. Belfast

In second place is Belfast. Property prices are much lower here than in Peterborough, averaging £161,974, and residents enjoy the cheapest utilities of all cities in the study, with costs around £126 per month. Not all parents will be looking to buy, and rent in the Irish capital is also relatively affordable at £985 for a three-bed home outside the city centre. 

Average annual incomes are slightly lower in Belfast though at £31,032, so the lower cost of living is perhaps due to these lower salaries.

3. Newcastle

Newcastle has ranked in third. The northern city is home to the happiest residents in the top five, with those living in Newcastle recording a happiness score of 7.5 out of 10. For context, the national average is 7.39 and anything above seven is considered high. 

The average annual salary in Newcastle is similar to that of Peterborough (£32,518), but house prices are quite a bit lower, averaging £182,500. That means parents may be able to save a little more here when it comes to housing. However, monthly utilities (£257) and childcare (£850) are quite pricey compared to Peterborough, so it may be that these cost differences do average out.

4. Sunderland

Just down the road, and coming in fourth, is Sunderland. The city offers the cheapest rent in the whole of the top five, with a three-bed flat averaging £725 per month. House prices are also very affordable at £134,000 — the fourth cheapest price in the study. 

These cheaper prices may be relative to the average salary in the city though, as residents only take home around £29,359 each year — £5,541 less than the national average.

5. Dundee 

Rounding off the top five most affordable cities for raising a family in the UK is Dundee. The Scottish city is home to the cheapest house prices in the whole study, with properties averaging £128,250. Rent is also quite low, at £875 per month. 

But, as with Sunderland, the average yearly salary in Dundee is below the national average, at £29,997. Childcare is also around £1,050 per month in Dundee, which could take a significant portion of this salary.

The top 10 least affordable UK cities for families

RankCityCost of renting a 3-bed home (per month)*Cost of purchasing a propertyCost of utilities (per month)Cost of childcare (per month)Average gross salary (per year)Happiness score (out of 10)Score


*Outside of city centre.

1. London

It will perhaps come as no surprise that London ranks as the least affordable place to raise a family. 

The capital city has the highest rent of all locations in the study at a huge £2,805 per month for a three-bed flat. It’s also home to the most expensive property prices, averaging £584,459. On top of that, working parents who need childcare are looking at very expensive average costs of £1,829 per month, which is over 2.5 times more expensive than in Peterborough. 

Having said that, the average income in London is as much as £41,853 per year — which is nearly £7,000 higher than the national average. However, this is only 1.2 times the salary in Peterborough, so the cost of living clearly isn’t completely balanced out by better wages here.

2. Cambridge

In second place is Cambridge. The city has the second highest house prices of all locations in the study, with costs averaging £492,750. Rent is also expensive in the city, at around per month £1,738, as are utilities (£217 per month) and childcare (£1,552 per month). 

But as with London, these costs are perhaps balanced out by higher wages, as the average salary in Cambridge is around £40,914 per year.

3. Brighton

Brighton has come in third. The seaside city has the second highest rent fees of all locations in the study, averaging £1,933, and property prices are as high as £439,750.

These high prices don’t necessarily correlate to a higher salary here, as the average yearly income in Brighton is around £34,741 — just below the national average. 

In terms of quality of life, Brighton does match London for the happiness of its residents, with a score of 7.4 out of 10.

How to teach your child about the value of money

1. Explain how money works  

Linking pocket money with household chores can be a great way to explain to your child that money is often earned through hard work. There’s no right or wrong answer to when you can start introducing them to an allowance, but it can be beneficial to do so once they start to learn adding and subtracting. 

Pocket money is a chance for children to learn all about money management too, so allow them the freedom to decide what to do with their money, and help them learn from any mistakes they might make. 

2. Encourage them to save 

As they start to manage their own money, you can also start introducing them to the idea of saving and budgeting. It might be that they’re drawn to a lower priced toy while in the shop, but you could let them know that they can get the more expensive toy they’ve been after if they save for a few weeks.

Calendars or piggy banks can be useful visual tools to help your child understand how much money needs to be saved before they reach their goal.

3. Make money lessons fun 

Money is an important topic, but learning about it can still be fun. Board games like Monopoly and The Game of Life can be great for older children, while role-playing as a shop customer or bank teller can be an exciting way to teach younger children about finances.

You could even get creative and have your little one craft their own money box or sketch a variety of coins and notes so they start to get acquainted with how money looks. 

As they get a little older, including them in the household budget or letting them get involved with the weekly shop can help them to further understand how money is distributed.

4. Take out a Junior ISA

Encouraging your child to save money is a great life lesson that will stay with them as they grow up. 

To help with this, a Junior ISA, or child’s ISA, is a savings account that allows you to grow tax-free savings for your child. They can only withdraw money from this after they turn 18 years old. 

With children able to manage their Junior ISA from the age of 16 (they are able to pay into it, but not withdraw funds), this is a great way to encourage them to save money for the future and be responsible with their finances.

Methodology and Sources

To determine the most and least affordable UK cities for parents in 2024, we pulled together a list of the 39 most-populated cities in the UK. Cities with missing data were excluded from the ranking. They then analysed six different factors across each city, including:

  • Cost of rent — for a three-bed residence outside of the city centre.
  • Average cost of purchasing a property
    • For London, an average price for the entirety of the city is calculated by taking an average of all London boroughs. See tab “Scaffolding – property” for full data and calculation.
    • For Scotland, (Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee) this alternative source from the Scottish government is used. We have taken the data set by month and utilised the median price per city for March 2023 to match the England & Wales data.
    • For Belfast (NI), the standardised house price for Q4 2023 is used from this source.
  • Cost of utilities — The cost for basic utilities per month including electricity, heating and water. 
  • Cost of childcare — The private cost of childcare for one child per month.
  • Average annual salary – Full time median salary taken.
    • Belfast Weekly salary taken from this source and multiplied by 52. 
    • Newport: Weekly salary taken from this source and multiplied by 52. 
    • Happiness scores — Score out of 10 for the relevant location. 

These metrics are then ranked on a score of 1 to 10 to create an overall index, indicating the best locations based on affordability.

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