Booming Bristol voted best city to live – with good reason

Recently, the Sunday Times announced that Bristol had been voted ‘best city to live in the UK’ for both wealth and happiness. That’s quite an achievement given the competition from buzzing locations like Manchester and Edinburgh or indeed smaller, prettier ones like Bath or York. And, of course, the capital itself, London.

So what is it about Bristol? The Sunday Times lists a number of characteristics that make it such a great place: well placed for rapid access to beautiful seaside and countryside, full of good places to eat and drink, plenty of interesting jobs (‘lots of them glamorous, creative, hi-tech and professional’) and, above all, a culture that’s quirky, independent and creative.

The Sunday Times also notes how rapidly the city has been improving and developing over recent years. There are the improvements to its schools, particularly its previously poor state secondary schools. There’s the transformation to the floating harbour area, now a hub for bars and restaurants – including some truly outstanding places such as Michelin-starred Casamia. And there’s the development of areas such as Gloucester Road and Easton.

It’s worth considering jobs a little more closely. Bristol, together with Bath, has become one of Europe’s fastest growing and most important technology centres. This includes both digital technologies such as animation, gaming and big data and high tech engineering technologies such as robotics, drones and aerospace. A report from McKinsey described the Bristol-Bath tech cluster as the only globally significant high growth tech cluster outside London. International names such as Toshiba IBM, HP, Airbus and Rolls Royce all have a strong presence here, and the hundreds of digital and tech startups in the city are equally impressive.

Two important phenomena are directly related to this combination of cutting edge jobs and quality of life. First, Bristol is a magnet for those thousands of people – most of them professionals – moving out of London each year. Indeed in recent years it has been second only to Birmingham in numbers of people moving in from London. This is enormously beneficial to Bristol’s economy. Secondly, Bristol’s housing market continues to boom: last year, out of all the cities in the UK, Bristol’s house prices rose fastest.

It’s clear that Bristol is thriving, economically and culturally. Right now, it seems, it is about the best place to find yourself anywhere in the UK.

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