But making the decision of where to buy a house isn't so easy and knowing where to start when buying a house can come with its own set of challenges. With the current cost of houses being so high, we totally understand you want to make sure you’re making the “right” choice. Thankfully, with flexible working looking to continue for the foreseeable future, and Swyft delivering your sofas directly to you, you’re now able to look outside of all the major cities (if you want) and expand your options.
To help you find the best place to buy a house, we looked at data logged in FixMyStreet, a website dedicated to recording neighbourhood issues, such as broken street lights and potholes, and reporting when they’re fixed to help you find out which cities and London Boroughs are the best to live in in 2022.
What we did
We scraped over 14 years of data from the map-based website, FixMyStreet (by mySociety). According to the website (and app) “it helps people in the United Kingdom inform their local authority of problems needing their attention, such as potholes, broken street lamps, and more”.
Once scraped, we studied the data in order to find out:
- Where in the UK has had the most issues logged
- Where in the UK has had the least issues logged
- Where in the UK has the most fixed issues
- Where in the UK has the least fixed issues
- Abandoned vehicles
- Miscellaneous damage
- Noise pollution
- Public toilets
- Refuse/street cleaning
- Road signs/lighting
- The population of the area, for perspective
- The most common issue logged
- The average house price cost
- The region
To help you in your quest to find a new home, in a new neighbourhood.
The best UK cities to move to
To help you find the overall best locations in the UK to move to, we looked at the cities with the least number of issues logged, the most issues fixed, and the most affordable average house prices in equal measure with Hull, Perth, and Durham taking the top three spots.
The best places to move - least number of issues logged
Next, we looked at the best cities which had the least number of issues logged overall.
We found that:
- The average house price for the cities with the lowest issues logged is £259,061
- The average percentage of issues fixed is 29%
- 5 out of the top 20 spots are in Scotland
- The average population is 89,504
- The total number of issues logged for these cities is 6,666
- The most affordable city with low issues to move to is Belfast, then Hull, and Dundee
Overall, Belfast has had the least number of issues logged in the last 10 years with the most common issue being related to fixing road signs and lighting. This includes some street lamps being broken and not fixed for 1-3 weeks. Unfortunately for the capital of Northern Ireland, the number of issues fixed remains low with only 16% of raised problems being solved. Interestingly though, Belfast has the highest population in the top 20, followed by Wakefield, then Hull.
The small city of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, comes in second place. This city has a smaller population, of only 20,000 and again, the main issue here is faulty road signs and lighting.
To our surprise, the City of London comes in at 3rd place for the least number of issues logged. This could be because it's made up of more commercial buildings rather than residential ones, however, a very low percentage of issues were actually fixed, with 0 being marked as solved. The main issues in the City of London are refuse and street cleaning, people discarding old office chairs in the street, and disruption caused by people on nights out (vomit, urine, smashed glass, and takeaway rubbish). One report even mentioned horse manure!
The UK cities with the most number of issues logged
We then took a look at the UK cities that had the highest number of issues reported.
We found that:
- The average house price cost in the cities with the most issues logged is £271,381, which is 7% higher than the cities ranking in the least number of issues ranking
- The average population is 318,320
- The average percentage of issues that get fixed 35.54%
- The total number of issues in all cities equals 105,795, which is 1487% higher than on the list of least number of issues
- North West cities feature the most with 4 out of 20 being located in this region
Bristol has the most logged issues from the past 15 years, however, more than half of these issues have been marked as fixed, which is a good ratio. Most of the issues logged are related to road and highway problems.
Although having the smallest population in the top 20, Bath takes 2nd place for the most issues reported with fly tipping appearing to be the main issue in this area. Bath is also the place where it is the most expensive to buy a house in the top 20 ranking, followed by Brighton and Cambridge.
Oxford is in third place of having the most issues logged - another city that doesn't have a huge population. Manhole covers and faulty cycling lanes are the most frequent issues here with 47.74% of reported problems resolved.
Which UK cities fix the most issues?When issues are reported on FixMyStreet, the reports get sent to the relevant council to be looked at and be resolved so we looked into which councils are the most responsive to complaints and get the most issues fixed.
Lincoln, Bath, and Bristol came out on top with over 50% of all issues reported being fixed by the councils. So although Bath and Bristol have two of the highest reported issues, it’s one of the best places to live to see those issues resolved.
Unfortunately for the capital city, London had the lowest rate of 0% of its issues being fixed by the council. Again, the number of actual issues logged is among the lowest on our list but the number of them that have been resolved remains very low. Not great if you want to live somewhere that sorts problems quickly.
The best overall London borough to move to
If you already live in London and are looking to move to a new area of the city, we made sure to look more closely at the capital. We looked at the borough with the least number of issues logged, the most issues fixed, and the most affordable average house prices, in equal measure to find the most promising London boroughs.
The best London boroughs to move to - least number of issues logged
After looking at the boroughs with the least number of issues logged, this is what we found:
- The average house price for the boroughs with the lowest issues logged is £702,224. This is £7K less than the average house prices of the areas featured on the “most issues logged” list.
- The average percentage of issues fixed is 35.21%
- Half of the top boroughs with the least number of issues logged are in East London.
- The average population is 268,972
- The total number of issues logged for these cities is 3474
- The most affordable city with low issues to move to is Barking and Dagenham, then Havering then Ealing.
Newham has had the least number of issues logged in the last 10 years, with the most common issue involving cleaning up green spaces and calling for more road sweepers. In other good news, the rate at which issue gets fixed in Newham is quite high with 35.62% of all issues being resolved. The house prices in Newham aren’t bad either and are on the affordable end of London house pricing.
Another borough in the East sub-region of London, Barking and Dagenham, comes in at second place for the least number of issues logged. This borough additionally has the most affordable houses in the ranking and a slightly smaller population so if you're looking for somewhere quieter to live, this might be the place. The main issues that were logged here include deep, sunken potholes that the public deem to be dangerous, however, the rate at which issues get fixed here is at a lower than average 12.66%.
In third place is Redbridge, similarly-sized in population to the above boroughs and in the same region of house price. The main issues here usually include uneven road and pavement surfaces with a better-than-Barking fix rate of 25.93%.
The London boroughs with most issues logged
Next, we looked into the London boroughs with the most logged complaints:
- The average house price for boroughs with most number of issues is £709,571
- The average population for boroughs with the most number of issues is 250,842
- Central and South London have had the most issues logged
- The average percentage of issues that get fixed are 35.90%
- The overall issues logged are 21,302
- Westminster is the borough with the most number of issues logged as well as the highest average house price at £1,044,618
Although Bromley has the highest number of logged issues out of all the London boroughs, it’s resolve rate is very high with 64.54% of issues being fixed by the council. This is 82.88% higher than the average fix rate of 35.29%. The main issues in this area are domestic dumping of items including: mattresses, plastic boxes, fridges, kegs, and stolen supermarket trollies.
Lewisham in East London is the 2nd top spot for the most issues logged. Average house prices are slightly lower in this borough than in Bromley at £534,192. There are lots of reports of fly tipping which is attracting vermin.
Hounslow in West London came in 3rd, this borough has a smaller population than the first two with the issue reported involving street cleaning problems and only a 5.24% fix rate.
Which London Boroughs fix the most issues?
As we have mentioned already, the reports collected on FixMyStreet are sent to the relevant council for them to resolve. Based on this information, we looked at which London councils are the most responsive to getting issues fixed.
Lewisham comes out on top with an impressive 77.19% of 4,222 reports resolved, although the number of reports themselves were extremely high. With a population of 318,000 and an average house price of £534,192, Lewisham is a great place to live if you want the security of having a council that cares about your concerns.
Coming in second place is Greenwich. This borough had far fewer reports than Lewisham totalling just under 900 and has a 72.21% fix rate meaning that 647 of the 896 reports were resolved successfully.
In third place we can see that Bromley had another very high resolve rate. Although the number of complaints were in the 6,000 mark, this borough has a fix rate of over 60% which is still impressive.
What to look out for when viewing new houses to buy
When looking for a new house there are quite a few things to consider, but what about the interiors you should watch out for when viewing properties?
Our design director, John O’Leary, has shared his tips for what to look out for in terms of fitted interiors that may cost you more in the long run.
I’m sure we’ve all seen a property listing, fallen in love, then noticed the bright red carpet in the living room. While it’s easy to think we can just replace that, it’s worth bearing in mind that this can cost anywhere between £700-£2,000. So, if it’s just in one room it’s probably not a huge issue but if it’s the entire house it’s worth factoring that into your house price budget. Another good idea is asking the estate agent what’s underneath the carpet, if it’s a rugged oak flooring, you’re onto a winner.
Making a conscious effort to check how much natural light each room gets and where exactly it hits is crucial, especially for smaller properties. The first reason being, most of us enjoy a home that attracts a good amount of light. The second, and less obvious reason is, thinking about whether you plan to place any key pieces of furniture where the light hits. Over time, sunlight can impact the shade and finish of furniture and other things such as leather sofas. One way to combat this is to opt for fabrics that aren’t hugely impacted by sunlight, such as linens and velvets.
Noting down where the electrical sockets, and how many there are, in each room is a wise move. This is especially worth doing for any rooms that you may want to use as a home office. Adding new plug sockets is another additional cost.
The finish of the walls can be an issue, if wallpapered, the colour or pattern may not be to your taste. This can take more time than one might think to strip and re-wallpaper, or to prepare the walls and paint. Sometimes walls are papered over to hide cracks, so if painting you need to sand and fill first which takes time. Or, you may even need an expert to re-plaster.
When it comes to windows and window treatments, it pays to double check. Some older properties may have lovely wooden window frames but can often be poorly insulated making for a cold house. Changing to double glazed is an option, but not cheap.
A key one to look out for is storage space, is it easily accessible and plentiful to hold everything you plan to put in it? My main tip here would be around the accessibility side, it’s great to have storage but if you can’t manoeuvre a piece of furniture you want to put in it because it’s placed in an awkward position in the house, it will be of little use. This is where a measuring tape on viewing day comes in handy!
Grade listed properties
If your property is grade listed there are some interior things that cannot be changed, some limitations extend to the type of paint you can use or even the type of heating you are allowed to install. Essentially anything that could change the home from its original form. You can check if your property is grade listed and the limitations on the historic England website.
Fitted furnishings to check
Staircases, metals and fireplaces can be expensive to replace or renovate. You want to be checking whether they’ve been panelled in or enclosed, and what type of work will need to be done in order to get them to a place where you’re happy with them. Typically, these types of replacements can cost anywhere upwards of £800.
Moving house can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure where to go but with the help of this blog, we hope some light has been shed on some of the best areas to live in to help you make the decision. Make moving in even smoother with Swyft’s sofa delivery service - get your Model 05 sofa delivered right to your door and enjoy a comfortable sofa right out of the box!
Full list of UK cities and London Boroughs we analysed