The Sunday Times judges praised Cirencester for the beauty of its historic buildings, its busy and useful town centre and easy access to Cotswold countryside.
They said: “The capital of the Cotswolds is a supremely liveable town that more than lives up to its stunning historical backdrop. It has regular markets, a thriving high street and beautiful parks that lead straight out into the surrounding countryside make it heaven for dog-lovers. The volunteer-run heated outdoor swimming pool is a particular highlight, as well as superior local culture available at the Barn Theatre and the New Brewery Arts Centre”.
This year’s guide – the 11th – features more new entries than ever before.
The Sunday Times’ expert judges have visited all the locations and assessed factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street.
Seven other locations in the Southwest are featured in the comprehensive guide. Published by The Sunday Times, it includes 72 locations across the UK.
Helen Davies, the editor of Best Places to Live 2023, said: “When times are tough, where we live matters more than ever. Attractive surroundings, good neighbours and a comfortable home are the best defences when the stresses of modern life seem overwhelming.
“This guide is a celebration of towns, cities and villages that are each a fantastic place to live in 2023 from Orkney to Felixstowe, the Chew Valley to Manchester city centre. Whether you’re downsizing, trading up or getting onto the property ladder, there will be somewhere to suit you.”
Wadhurst in East Sussex was named the overall winner of Best Places to Live.
It was praised by judges for its “good schools, convenient transport connections, an amazingly well-stocked high street and stunning scenery”. They said that it offers “pretty much everything needed for modern life in miniature”.
This year’s guide – the 11th – features more new entries than ever before. The Sunday Times’s expert judges have visited all the locations and assessed factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street.
Previous winners of the Best Places to Live in Britain title are:
Stamford, Lincolnshire (2013); Skipton, North Yorkshire (2014); Newnham, Cambridge (2015); Winchester, Hampshire (2016); Bristol (2017), York (2018), Salisbury, Wiltshire (2019), Altrincham, Cheshire (2020) Stroud, Gloucestershire (2021) and Ilkley, West Yorkshire (2022).
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2023: Southwest England
Note: apart from the regional winner, the other locations are not ranked but listed in alphabetical order.
The capital of the Cotswolds is a supremely liveable town that more than lives up to its stunning historical backdrop. It has regular markets, a thriving high street and beautiful parks that lead straight out into the surrounding countryside make it heaven for dog-lovers. The volunteer-run heated outdoor swimming pool is a particular highlight, as well as superior local culture available at the Barn Theatre and the New Brewery Arts Centre.
This suntrap village earns top marks for location, with easy access to both the coast and the wilds of Dartmoor. It offers the dream combination of seaside, countryside and a busy community that knows how to have a good time. There’s a village shop, great selection of pubs plus a doctor’s surgery, chemist and a post office, and Teignmouth and Exeter are close at hand for trains and supermarkets.
Bristol has a popularity problem. It’s so good that everyone wants to live here — and with good reason. It has everything: it’s urban and rural, posh and gritty, homely and highbrow. But there are side-effects: terrible traffic and serious grumbles over a clean-air zone and the e-scooter scheme. It’s the UK’s most interesting and independently minded city, with something for everyone, whether it’s the gorgeous Georgian houses of Clifton, the sensible semis of Henleaze or the terraces in buzzy Bedminster.
Broad Chalke, Wiltshire
With its thatched cottages, steep green hills, chalk streams and watercress beds, the village at the centre of the Chalke Valley is still showing the rest how laid-back rural life should be done. But like the ducks on the River Ebble, it takes a lot of paddling under the surface to make country living look this dreamy, with top marks for effort going to the 70 volunteers who man the Hub, the community-run shop/cafe/post office that’s at the centre of life here.
The Chew Valley, Somerset
The picture-perfect villages in the gorgeous slice of prime English countryside that nestles between Dundry Down and the Mendips are full of character, with shops, schools, churches and village halls busy with playgroups and fitness classes. Bristol is only 10 miles to the north, and you can feel the city’s innovative, community-minded spirit in the number of interesting regenerative farming enterprises and events such as Valleyfest, a family-friendly food and music festival.
Marlborough has excellent schools – state as well as private – beautiful countryside, lively sports clubs and the widest high street in the country, which is at the heart of life here. An impressive literature festival, a new cinema and standout shops such as the White Horse bookshop and indie record store Sound Knowledge keep it punching above its weight.
A world away from Cornwall’s depressing second-home holiday hotspots, Penzance is wonderfully unpretentious, quirky and independent. It’s at the heart of a cultural and creative renaissance in Cornwall, with Cornish language, food, music, dance, art and film a core part of life here. New funding is in the pipeline to rejuvenate the town centre, but it’s the dramatic edge of the world feel that make this an irresistible location for anyone with a taste for the wild side.
Poundbury turns 30 this year, and it’s ageing gracefully. King Charles’s planned town was widely mocked when it was launched, but it now looks like Poundbury was ahead of its time. It has lots of affordable homes, renewable energy and a walkable layout that means you’re never more than 10 minutes’ stroll from buying a pint of milk.
Read more at thetimes.co.uk/bestplacestolive
Information provided by the The Sunday Times.