The five best places to grow old in the UK

Age brings intelligence, experience and beauty – as we get older we begin to change what we want from life and our surroundings, so it’s no surprise that in England 43% of over-50s plan to move away when they retire, with many leaving the city life behind (only 0.5% choosing to live in London).

Whilst globally Britain loses out to Norway, Switzerland and Sweden in the rankings of the best places to grow old in, at Barchester we completely disagree and feel there is nowhere better than the British countryside to enjoy the greater things in life before it’s too late! We’ve taken a number of factors into account and comprised a list of the top 5 places to retire in the UK. 

What makes somewhere a great place to grow old?

There are a number of factors we are going to take into account when considering the best places to spend your retirement years – including crime levels, access to healthcare and wheelchair mobility – all pressing matters once we begin to leave our youth behind! Let’s not forget the importance of a scenic countryside, with studies indicating more than 80% of elderly value the scenery and landscape around them above healthcare, house prices, friendly neighbourhoods and good shops. The excitement of exploring new rural places is breath-taking and whilst the city may be known for its bright lights and bustling streets, nothing can compare to the relaxation of the fresh air and idyllic views the countryside has on offer.

So without further ado, here’s Barchester’s list of the top 5 places to grow old in Britain:

The South of Kent

The south of Kent – otherwise known as the ‘Garden of England’ - the model location used to illustrate Britain’s countryside. Luckily there are Barchester properties nestled in Ashford, Wadhurst and Sittingbourne – a region surrounded by beautiful castles, country houses and old churches dating back to the Middle Ages, not to mention that it’s the sunniest region in England – great for enjoying our beautiful gardens and outdoor facilities!

East Sussex

Not far from Kent both within the list and location-wise is East Sussex, home to seaside resorts such as Brighton and Eastbourne. East Sussex provides another example of classic British countryside. With particularly low crime levels and decent levels of sunshine we reckon you’d love one of our residential care homes in the region – with Henfield, Shoreham-by-Sea and Horsham all in the middle of some of the county’s most attractive open areas. East Sussex could’ve ranked higher but its access to healthcare lets it down, ranking 52nd in the national league table


Contrary to Sussex isHerefordshire, ranking fourth in the country for access to healthcare with rates of long-term illness amongst the 65-84 age range lower than anywhere else in the country. The region is the only area in the North of England that made it onto our list and despite having much less sunshine than its southern counter-parts, it offers all round appeal to those seeking new levels of peace and tranquillity in a rural setting. Whilst it may be a little colder up North, Barchester offers plenty of indoor activities and popular clubs to get involved with!

Devon and Cornwall

We couldn’t decide between DevonandCornwall and since they’re both South-West seaside spots we thought we’d stick them both together! 12th century villages are dotted along the South-West, often at the bottom of charming valleys in what is considered one of the easier places in the UK to navigate via scooter or powered wheelchair. Away from the village areas you can enjoy the exquisite landscape with breath-taking well-maintained national parks such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, with the coastlands of Cornwall to the West boasting unspoilt areas that are able to attract visitors from all over the world. It’s not just the scenery that makes Exeter one of the hottest spots for the elderly right now; the county also has a low crime rate, great weather and a reasonable retirement income. We think your well-earned retirement should be spent by the Sea! Do you agree? Check out our Barchester locations in Exeter, Torquay and Taunton.


Dorset has two out of ten of the most concentrated populations of older people in the UK, with the median age at a remarkable 69.8 years old, and it’s obvious why! The town’s slogan and sign in the centre promises Dorset as ‘where time is pleasant’, with the area having been associated with retirement since the 1930s and containing all of the necessary infrastructure to support an elderly population. It topped our list due to its all-round appeal for older generations, with an impressively low crime-rate, great access to healthcare, free bus passes for the elderly and a climate that is second only to that of Cornwall. Not only is peaceful and healthy there, but the town has some picture postcard views including two rivers and a spectacular seaside.