The most popular up-and-coming towns to move to when you retire

7 minute read

Small wooden boats on a shoreline

As you approach pension age, it’s common to have thoughts about where you want to spend your retirement years. Whilst some will want to remain in the same home they have lived in for many decades, others may wish to move to a new city, town or village to start an exciting new chapter in their lives. However, with so many beautiful locations across the UK ideal for retirement life, selecting the right destination can be tricky.

In 2021, Age Co wanted to find out which UK retirement towns are the most appealing and why. To do this, Age Co conducted a survey and presented 10 of the most up-and-coming UK retirement towns to a group of 1,000 people. The results enabled Age Co to rank each location based on perceived popularity using a unique ‘star rating’.

Please note: this survey was undertaken in 2021 and reflects this time period. 


1 star - Uppingham, Rutland

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Average house price - £318,117

Average Age - 38

Air Quality - 3 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

Although it was ranked at the bottom of the list, there is much to like about this old market town. With low crime rates, clean air and a safe, relaxed and old-timey community feel, Uppingham has been described as being, ‘as pretty as the Cotswolds, but without the price tag and the tweeness.’ With over a fifth (21 per cent) of respondents highlighting a cheaper cost of living as a major benefit of a retirement town, Uppingham is an attractive prospect.


2 stars - Ballycastle, County Antrim

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Average house price - £178,279

Average Age - 39

Air Quality - 2 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

The only up-and-coming retirement town featured in these rankings that is based in Northern Ireland, Ballycastle has much to offer as an increasingly popular retirement destination. With house prices much lower than the UK average, a thriving cultural tourism industry and a bustling high street, this location is certainly one for those who wish to live in a busy community with plenty going on. However, with the sea and swathes of beautiful countryside only a stone’s throw away, this stunning seaside town offers something for everyone.


3 stars - Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire

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Average house price - £173,203

Average Age - 42.3

Air Quality - 3 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

A strong contender for the most popular retirement town in Wales, the county town of Carmarthen is a rare example of a town that has managed to mix old and new to perfection. A laid-back and relaxed town that is rich in history and culture, Carmarthen also boasts a more varied array of modern amenities than many other retirement towns on this list, including various retail outlets and leisure and sporting facilities. This makes it an ideal location for those looking to stay fit and active. This Welsh town also benefits from great transport links, with a busy railway station and road links to the M4 via the A48 Trunk Road.


3 stars - St Davids, Pembrokeshire

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Average house price - £277,417

Average Age - 42.9

Air Quality - 3 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

Ideal for those keen on trading in the suits, briefcases and daily commutes to the office for walking boots, waterproofs and hiking in the mountains, St Davids in Pembrokeshire is the perfect small city for retirees who love the great outdoors. With low pollution levels, competitive property prices and a close-knit but welcoming older community to become a part of, this historic city is one of Wales’ best-hidden retirement gems.


3 stars - Abersoch, Gwynedd

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Average house price - £494,778

Average Age - 41.6

Air Quality - 3 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

Rounding off a trio of 3-star Welsh retirement towns, the seaside village community of Abersoch perfectly marries the benefits of living at a relaxing seaside resort with plenty of exciting activities to keep you on the move. Indeed, 11 per cent of respondents admitted that the thought of leaving the hustle and bustle of their current location would push them into making a move during retirement, and Abersoch may just represent the perfect trade-off. Combining boundless culture, limitless activities and a relaxed atmosphere, this Welsh coastal resort ticks a lot of boxes.


4 stars - Wilmslow, Cheshire

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Average house price - £440,296

Average Age - 41.75

Air Quality - 2 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

One of the most exclusive locations put to respondents, the Cheshire town of Wilmslow might be better known as the home of footballers and the rich and famous, but in recent years it has also begun to generate a reputation as a glamorous retirement spot. Although known as one of the most expensive places to live in the UK outside of central London, which may put many pensioners off, this exclusive town does feature exceptional transport links to all of the major cities in the North West, the option for a perfect balance between city and country life, and plenty of local retail and leisure facilities to keep residents occupied. With 17 per cent of respondents pointing specifically at better facilities for the retired as a motivation to move, Wilmslow could be exactly what the doctor ordered.


4 stars - Skipton, Yorkshire

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Average house price - £242,034

Average Age - 42.5

Air Quality - 2 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

With great transport links, a thriving older community and the stunning Yorkshire Dales on the doorstep, it’s no real surprise that Skipton ranked so highly in Age Co’s popularity survey. Alongside a respectably low crime rate and a good selection of housing to suit most budgets, this busy yet laid-back market town also boasts lower than average annual rainfall figures. Who’s up for a ramble in the dales?


5 stars - Ambleside, Lake District

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Average house price - £324,852

Average Age - 46

Air Quality - 2 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

With our survey revealing that a significant 61 per cent of respondents plan to retire by the age of 65, giving them many active years of retirement, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the ‘hikers’ paradise’ of Ambleside in Lake District was found to be the second most popular retirement destination. Featuring some of the most picturesque natural landscapes in the entire UK - perhaps a key reason that saw this North West location ranked higher than the likes of Carmarthen, Uppingham and Wilmslow - Ambleside is the perfect location for those who want to enjoy an active retirement surrounded by awe-inspiring nature.

Aside from the countless outdoor activities available on your doorstep and the outstanding natural beauty all around you, living in Ambleside brings with it the advantages of competitive house prices, a lively older community and some of the cleanest air the UK has to offer.


6 stars - Christchurch, Dorset

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Average house price - £393,385

Average Age - 47

Air Quality - 3 out of 10 (Low Air Pollution)

Dubbed the ‘retirement capital’ of the UK due to the fact that nearly 30 per cent of its population is made up of retirees, Age Co’s survey fittingly found the town of Christchurch in Dorset the most popular retirement destination. This historic town, located just four miles from Bournemouth, is a paradise for those looking for a balanced retirement. It provides the best of both worlds, with low crime rates and a quiet, relaxed feel, and benefits from being very close to the seaside. It’s only two hours away from London too, making it ideal for those retirees wishing to remain active.

On top of this perfect balance between being relaxed but with plenty to keep you active, this 6-star popular retirement location also has unrivaled clean air, according to the government’s Daily Air Quality Index. With 23 per cent of respondents claiming that the opportunity to live in an area better for their health would convince them to move, Christchurch’s clean air may just be the cherry on top of the cake.

So there you have it - the most popular up-and-coming towns to move to when you retire! To learn more about making the most of your retirement years, try exploring Age Co's Useful Articles.


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