Finding the right place to live is one of the most important decisions you can make, so it pays to do some research to make sure you position yourself somewhere where quality of life is good.
To help, we've created uSwitch's Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index. This is the result of a detailed analysis of a wide range of quality of life statistics, which we use to rank the statistical regions of the UK in order from best to worst overall quality of life.
Sandwell in the West Midlands is, according to our 2015 study, the 11th worst place for residents' quality of life in the UK. It has fallen down the table 25 places since we last conducted the uSwitch's Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index analysis in 2013, when it was ranked 103rd out of 138.
Here are some of the statistics that lead to Sandwell's poor performance in our 2015 study:
Sandwell has very low employment compared to UK averages, at 63%. While this isn't as low as the lowest employment rate in the UK, a dubious honour that in 2015 belongs to Liverpool with 59%, it is well below average. However, a higher than average 50% are working standard full time hours (regarded as being between 35 and 45 hours in a normal week).
Incomes are on the low end of average in Sandwell if you take the gross weekly income, which in 2015 was £451.70 per person. However, disposable income is among the UK's lowest at £12,100 for a household per annum.
House prices are low in Sandwell, compared both to the UK as a whole and to the West Midlands region. The average house in Sandwell sold in 2015 for £118k.
The average life expectancy for both men and women is below average in Sandwell. Male life expectancy is 77, while female 81.
Life expectancy is an influential factor that insurance companies use to determine life insurance premiums. You can check our advice guide on how to get a cheaper life insurance policy
The cost of the average weekly grocery shop is just slightly below average here at £54, however other costs are above average like petrol at 118p, and car insurance which is very high at £540.80.
See how much you could save on your car insurance with our comparison tool.
Other Important Factors
One area in which Sandwell actually scores fairly well is its available technology. It has 99% mobile phone network coverage – which is as high as anywhere on the table has achieved, and good, though not exceptional local broadband speeds of 24.6Mbps.
These are some of the non-financial statistics we use in calculating our quality of life index, as the availability of internet and communication are something many people consider a priority for good quality of life.
While Sandwell does have some positives like cheap houses and good technological infrastructure, it is badly let down by some of its costs and its low employment. This is why it places so low on uSwitch's Best Places to Live in The UK Quality of Life Index for 2015.
More to life than rankings
At uSwitch, we know that there is more to life than rankings, stats and figures, and our Qualify of Life Index merely highlights the vast differences in the experiences of people across the UK.
Whether you're living in the best city or the worst, millions of households in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland face financial struggles including rising energy bills and credit card debt. That's why it's more important than ever for households to assess their budgets, and uSwitch.com offers a great way to start.
Below you can find ways to save on everything from car insurance to mobile bills.
Place to Live 2015 — Where did your region rank?
About the research
The uSwitch.com study assessed 138 local areas (NUTS3 regions) for 26 factors such as salaries, disposable household income, and the cost of essential goods including food bills, fuel costs and energy bills. The study also factored in lifestyle issues like hours of sunshine, working hours and life expectancy to ensure a full picture of the quality of life in each NUTS3 region.
For more about the study's methodology, read the full press release .