Feeling secure in your own home isn’t just a bonus, it’s a fundamental necessity. That’s why so many people think ‘safety first’ when looking for a new home. If you’re on the hunt, and want to be sure that you’re settling somewhere safe, then this guide is for you. In it, we discuss the importance of this factor to homebuyers and renters, and list the top 10 safest places to live in the UK.
Safety matters – Homeowners value safety more than everThe ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape the UK property market. Initially, in 2020 and early 2021, there was a ‘race for space’ as people wanted to endure lockdown in larger rooms and gardens. Now, post-pandemic, housing demand is creeping back into London and other major cities.
However, the past two years have deeply affected the psychology of people looking to move home. Today, buyers and renters will think much more carefully about how safe their prospective new area really is before committing to it. With rising interest rates, and plenty of uncertainty around Omicron and possible new variants, moving home is more of a risky business than ever. When people move today, they want to be sure that they will be safe and comfortable living in their new home for much longer periods than in pre-pandemic times.
Moving away again, if the new area doesn’t suit, simply isn’t as easy as it used to be.
The top 10 safest places to live in the UKWhile there are plenty of factors that determine the overall safety of an area, for sake of ease we’re going to focus on crime. This is because crime is one of the most impactive and easily trackable safety concerns of all. It’s also something that affects every part of the UK.
The following list contains the 10 UK counties or districts that posted the lowest crime rates between late 2021-2022. It uses the latest comprehensive crime data, taken from the following three reports:
Crime in England and Wales: year ending September 2022 – Office of National Statistics.
Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2021-22 – Scottish Government.
Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland Update to 31st December 2022 – Police Service of Northern Ireland
*Please note: The time periods covered in these reports do not align exactly. Crime reports are released by different institutions at different times. However, together, they cover the broad picture of crime rates across the UK from late 2021 to late 2022. The following rankings use recorded crime data in these three reports to determine ‘crimes per 1000 people’ rates. It also takes into account severity and violence levels of crime, and includes a range of UK countries and regions.
Let’s see where the 10 safest places to live in the UK can be found.
10. Cumbria78.7 crimes per 1000 peopleTucked right up in the top right corner of England, Cumbria is a county dominated by natural beauty. Not only does it contain part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it also has the renowned Lake District National Park. Given its tranquil, peaceful setting, it’s unsurprising that this county is one of the safest in the UK.
Cumbria is a county in the north of England, and one of the most beautiful places to live. There are many factors that go into choosing where to live, but Cumbria has something for everyone! From the beautiful scenery to the great schools, there’s Read more about Cumbria
9. West Mercia72.1 crimes per 1000 peopleWest Mercia is the region that combines Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire, all in the west of England. All of these separate counties and areas enjoy a winning combination of solid job prospects, access to excellent schools and natural beauty. With added investment pouring in, West Mercia is enjoying a lengthy period of prosperity and low crime rates.
If you are looking for a new home, then Shropshire might be the place for you. This county is located in the West Midlands region of England and has much to offer prospective homeowners. For example, it offers affordable housing prices that will leave Read more about Shropshire
8. Surrey59.7 crimes per 1000 peopleSurrey can be found just south of Greater London, and it enjoys a high level of employment opportunities, accessibility and infrastructure development. These all help make it a safe, welcoming and convenient place to live.
Surrey is a county in the south of England. It has an area of 1,663 square kilometres and a population of 1.2 million people. Surrey borders London to the North West and Hampshire to the East. The county has many beautiful parks which are Read more about Surrey
7. Devon and Cornwall58.9 crimes per 1000 peopleDevon and Cornwall are massive tourism draws every year. This is due to their many impressive features – rugged coastal beauty, great surfing, clotted cream, etc. However, the friendly, welcoming nature of local inhabitants and the area’s reliably low crime rates are a big help.
Devon is a small, picturesque county in England. The county has much to offer those looking for a peaceful and serene place to live, with plenty of scenic areas and attractive cities. For those considering moving there permanently, this guide will provide information about Read more about Devon
6. North Yorkshire58.5 crimes per 1000 peopleSpread over 8,608 km², North Yorkshire is a huge county that nevertheless maintains a great sense of community and togetherness. This culture of inclusiveness helps North Yorkshire keep crime low and neighbourly spirits high.
North Yorkshire is one of the most beautiful counties in England. It has rolling hills, gorgeous countryside and stunning coastlines. If you are considering buying a home in North Yorkshire then this article will give you all the information that you need to make Read more about North Yorkshire
5. Wiltshire58.1 crimes per 1000 peopleTucked into the middle of a rough triangle of Bristol, Oxford and Southampton, Wiltshire is a South West England county. Green, charming and chock-full of history – Stone Henge being a prime example – Wiltshire is also very affluent. While it’s not always the case, prosperity often results in lower crime rates, and that definitely applies to Wiltshire.
Wiltshire is one of the larger counties in England and has many beautiful towns and stretches of pristine countryside to explore. Whether you’re looking for a rural retreat or metropolitan excitement, Wiltshire will have something for you. We’ll take a look at some of Read more about Wiltshire
4. Ards & North Down40 crimes per 1000 peopleArds and North Down is a government district in Northern Ireland, to the immediate east of the capital, Belfast. It’s a beautiful part of the country, enjoying 115 miles of unspoilt scenic coastline. This, combined with its ruined castles, holy wells, abbeys and military forts, make it a tourism magnet. Its enduring success as a tourism hotspot is partly driven by how safe it is, and low crime rates are a regular feature here.
The Lake At Mount Stewart, County Down [Image Credit: Bangor Art]3. Aberdeenshire31.3 crimes per 1000 people
Aberdeen is a city in the northeast of Scotland and has been an important port for centuries. It’s known as one of Europe’s energy capitals and boasts some beautiful scenery with many parks and green spaces to explore. The City of Aberdeen covers over Read more about Aberdeen
Even though Edinburgh was recently voted the safest of Scotland’s cities, Aberdeen narrowly posted a lower crime rate for 2021-2022. This port city in northeast Scotland is an architectural and historical wonder. It’s a joy to walk around, and the pleasantly slow pace of life contributes to it being a safe place to live. The wider local authority of Aberdeenshire maintains an extremely low crime rate, bolstered by a great sense of community pride and spirit.
2. East Renfrewshire22.7 crimes per 1000 peopleEast Renfrewshire is one of Scotland’s 32 council areas, situated to the southwest of Glasgow. This small but inviting area is largely rural, with a heavy emphasis on supporting small businesses. This probably helps keep the interconnectedness of its inhabitants high, and crime low.
Eaglesham Village – East Renfrewshire [Image credit: John McLeish]1. Shetland Islands19.9 crimes per 1000 peopleEven though the BBC made a 6-series crime drama set in the Shetland Islands (Shetland), don’t let that fool you! The Shetlands boast one of the lowest crime rates in the UK. In fact, fewer than 500 crimes in total were reported here during the whole of 2021-2022. They remain one of the most desirable (and safest) places for escaping the pressures of mainland living.
The north end of Balta from Muckle Head [Image credit: Mike Pennington]Looking Deeper: What makes a place ‘safe’ to live in?Whether you feel safe and secure in your home and village/town/city is down to many factors. If you ask someone if where they live is safe, they’ll most likely think about the local crime rate first. However, there are other considerations too.
The following are the main safety factors that help make a place safe to live in. Consider all of the following when you’re looking to move home and have safety on your mind.
Low crimeThis is the big one. A low rate of crime is a solid indicator that the area is a safe place to live, work and generally enjoy your life. Fortunately, crime statistics for your target area are readily available from national institutions and local police forces. This makes crime one of the easier safety factors to accurately assess.
Volume of crime: This is how many crimes, of all varieties, take place within an area overall. A low overall crime rate indicates that the area is well policed, well protected, and does not attract planned crimes and/or crimes of opportunity.
Type of crime: If possible, dig deeper into the stats and find out what kind of crime regularly occurs in the area. Are there lots of burglaries? Maybe it’s a prosperous area that is a clear target for professional thieves. Pickpocketing and muggings? These are common problems in touristy areas. Try to discover what kind of crime happens in the area, and decide if you are likely to be vulnerable to it.
Police/safety initiatives: Look beyond the stats. What are the police, social services and the government doing in this area to curb crime? Are there initiatives in place? Is there solid investment in safety-related improvements? This is important to know, because it may help determine if the area’s crime rate is likely to increase or decrease in the future.
High building standardsIf disasters like Grenfell and the ongoing debacle around cladding have proved anything, it’s that building standards matter greatly. While an area may use many different property developers, a bit of research will show if it has a history of shoddy building projects. Look for major news stories of preventable fires, collapsed buildings, endemic damp, etc. Failing that, look into the reputation of the developer who delivered the home you want to buy/rent. Our area guides and reviewer comments can be a big help here. Remember, the quality of the materials and craftsmanship in your home is an essential safety consideration.
Low flood risksAlong with fire, flooding is one of the more common causes of devastating property damage and potential loss of life. Currently, around 5 million homes in the UK are at risk of flooding. Around 30% of owners/renters, representing 1.5 million homes, are yet to take any action to secure against flooding. Like crime, flooding is a well-mapped phenomenon in the UK. This makes it easier to assess flood risks, compared to other safety factors. Gov.uk offers a free comprehensive service that records historical flood data for an area, and its long-term flood risks. More broadly, living close to rivers and in valleys or other low-lying areas is a definite cause for further investigation.
Low vulnerability to climate changeClimate change is a global concern, but some areas are more vulnerable to it than others. Flooding is one obvious risk that is being heightened by climate change, but there are others. As an island, the UK’s coastal areas are at greater risk of erosion. The latest UK Climate Risk report from 2021 says that the current percentage of coastline vulnerable to erosion is 28% for England and Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland have it slightly better at 19.5% and 19% respectively.
Good road systemsRoad collisions for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians represent another major safety consideration. Check if your intended new home’s area has a well-developed road system. Also, check its track record on road-based incidents. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that ‘rural = safer’, as country roads are deadlier than you think. The THINK! Campaign from the government in 2014 cited how 60% of collision fatalities occurred on country roads.
Clean airSafety concerns physical health and wellbeing, not just sources of danger. The World Health Organisation estimates that air pollution kills around 7 million people every year. While the UK has some of the lowest air pollution levels in the developed world, this does vary between regions. You can quickly check past, current and forecasted air pollution levels across the UK using the DEFRA site.
Hopefully, this list will be helpful in highlighting some of the safest places to live in the UK. If you’re interested in moving to the capital, we also have a top 10 list of the safest places to live in London. Good luck on your hunt for a safe, secure and sensational home.
HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.