As many of us resign ourselves to the fact that working from home is going to be the new normal for the foreseeable future, we’re starting to change how we think about where we live.
In the past, an easy commute to work was a major influence on where you might choose to put down roots, but as the world continues to change and adapt to coronavirus that’s no longer the case.
So where are the best places to work from home in the UK?
The Uswitch Remote Working Index 2020 combined a number of factors, including average property prices, amount of green space, crime rates, and average broadband speeds, to create a ranking of over 100 towns and cities across that UK that offer idyllic working from home conditions.
The North really shined in the Uswitch Remote Working Index 2020, with Harrogate in Yorkshire emerging as the best place to work from home in the UK.
With its superfast 60Mbps broadband, huge amounts of green space in the area, low crime rates and good schools, the Yorkshire Spa town tops the list as the UK’s ideal remote working location.
What may or may not be surprising is the relatively poor performance of the UK’s biggest cities on the Index, with Birmingham ranked 82nd, London 88th, and Manchester coming in right at the bottom in 100th place.
Meanwhile, smaller cities and towns like Bath and the Mendip area of Somerset came second and third on the Index, with Derry City and Strabane, Wigan, Cheshire, St Albans, York, Edinburgh and Swansea making up the rest of the top 10.
For an index which ranks the desirability of towns and cities based on broadband speed, green spaces, air quality, crime rates, quality of schools, and GPs per 100,000 people, it makes sense that smaller towns which have lower house prices but still can access to great broadband speeds are out-performing bigger cities.
Adelana Carty, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, comments: “The pandemic has turned our working routines upside down and given many of us a taste for what our lives could be like if we worked from home on a more permanent basis. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in millions of people dreaming of ditching the rat race and moving away from the big city.
“Our Remote Working Index reveals some of the country’s best places to work remotely and Harrogate comes top thanks to its superfast broadband, huge amount of green spaces, good schools and great doctor numbers.
“With the likes of Derry and Wigan so high up the list, it shows how different our priorities are once we are liberated from having to worry about the length of our commute.
“After house prices, the amount of green space in the area is the biggest priority for people hoping to work from home, and places like Swansea look hugely appealing when you think of the gorgeous Gower peninsula on its doorstep.
“If you’re moving to a new area to work remotely, the speed and reliability of your broadband connection could be one of the most important things about your new location.
“Do your research and run a comparison online to see what speeds you could get before you commit to the move.”
Compare broadband deals with Uswitch to find what’s available in your area.
If and when life does return to normal, our research has shown that many people won’t be in a hurry to return to the office. A fifth of people (19%) want to spend more time working from home once the pandemic is over, and one in six employees (16%) want to work from home full time when life returns to normal.
The proportion of people hoping to spend three or more days working from home each week is expected to double from less than one in five (17%) to more than a third (35%).
If this is the case, house-hunting in the future is sure to look very different, with the ability to work from home a key factor when weighing up the pros and cons of different regions of the UK.
When choosing a new place to live, these were the factors that those surveyed considered to be the most important:
House prices (53%)
Amount of green spaces (45%)
Crime rates (43%)
Broadband speeds (34%)
Air quality (28%)
Local number of GPs (20%)
Quality of local schools (16%)
Access to fast and reliable broadband is obviously one of the biggest influences on your ability to work from home, and even beat out the quality of local schools when choosing a new place to live.
Fortunately, the availability of superfast broadband has increased dramatically in recent years, with more than 95% of the UK now able to get broadband speeds of 30Mbps or more.
To understand what different broadband speeds actually mean, take a look at our download speed calculator.
To find out if you could get faster broadband, use our broadband speed test to see what speed you could be getting at home. And if you’re struggling with slow speeds while you work from home, read our guide on getting the most out of your broadband while working from home.
Uswitch’s Remote Working Index ranks 106 of the UK’s biggest town and cities by seven metrics. Each of its ranks in these seven categories is then weighted according to how survey respondents valued them: 45% said green spaces, 43% said crime rates, 34% said broadband speeds, 28% said air quality, 20% said ‘the amount of local doctors’, 16% ‘the quality of local schools’. Calibrating these to 100%: makes 24% green spaces, 23% crime rates, 18% said broadband speeds, 15% said air quality, 11% said ‘the amount of local doctors’, 9% said ‘the quality of local schools’. Data sources: Broadband speeds: Ofcom Connected Nations 2019; House prices Zoopla, Green spaces: UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology: Corine land cover, and Ordnance Survey: OS Open Greenspace; Crime rate: Data.Police.UK and Scottish Government: Recorded crime in Scotland 2018-2019; Air quality: Defra: Modelled background pollution data; Local doctors: NHS Digital: General Practice Workforce, Public Health Scotland: General Practice data tables; Welsh Government: GPs in Wales. Local schools: Gov.uk: All schools and colleges in England, Welsh Government: Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. Number of coffee shops: Yell.