Seaside town becomes first Scottish winner of Best Places to Live guide

A seaside town has become the first Scottish winner of the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

North Berwick becomes first Scottish winner of Sunday Times annual ‘Best Places to Live guide’ PA Media

The Scottish seaside town of North Berwick in East Lothian has been named the best place to live in an annual guide.

It topped a list of 72 locations chosen by The Sunday Times to represent the best of the UK in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.

The comprehensive guide is released online on Friday, with an abridged version to be published as a magazine supplement on Sunday.

North Berwick is the first Scottish winner in the 12-year history of Best Places to Live. It has a great high street with independent shops, the great outdoors and family-friendly houses, those behind the guide said.

The judges were impressed by its easy connections to Edinburgh and the way life revolves around the town’s beaches as well as the wealth of activities, whatever someone’s age. They also highlighted the thriving independent shops as a sign of the positive effect that small businesses can have on a community.

Abergavenny in Wales is among the winners in the guide (Anthony Devlin/PA Archive)PA Media

The annual guide, sponsored by mortgage lender Halifax, also named 10 regional winners, including Clerkenwell in London, Abergavenny in Wales and Portstewart in Northern Ireland.

Helen Davies, editorial projects director and Best Places to Live editor, said: “Wherever you are on the property ladder, there will be somewhere to suit you.”

The Sunday Times’s judges visited all the locations and assessed factors from schools to transport, broadband speeds to culture, as well as access to green spaces and the health of the high street.

Kim Kinnaird, Halifax’s homes and protection director, said: “Where you want to live is a very personal decision. We know it can be daunting, whether it’s deciding where to buy your first home or making a move as your circumstances change.

“There can be lots to think about around what is right for you and your family.”

Previous winners of the Best Places to Live title are Stamford, Lincolnshire (2013); Skipton, North Yorkshire (2014); Newnham, Cambridge (2015); Winchester, Hampshire (2016); Bristol (2017); York, North Yorkshire (2018); Salisbury, Wiltshire (2019); Altrincham, Cheshire (2020); Stroud, Gloucestershire (2021); Ilkley, West Yorkshire (2022); and Wadhurst, East Sussex (2023).

2024 regional winners

East of England: Wivenhoe, Essex

Wivenhoe was described as a picturesque riverside town (Alamy/PA)PA Media

A welcoming community and a strong artistic tradition help the picturesque riverside town to stand out from its neighbours in the outer reaches of the Essex commuter belt, those behind the guide said.

London: Clerkenwell

Clerkenwell embodies all that is best about life in London, with culture covered by the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells and cosy pubs, cool cafes, lively bars and some of the city’s best restaurants, according to judges.

Midlands: Stirchley, Birmingham

This down-to-earth suburb of Birmingham has some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and cafes, according to judges.

North and North East: Leeds

Leeds was praised for its shopping destinations, youthful energy and great choice of places to live.

Northern Ireland: Portstewart, County Londonderry

Portstewart drew praise for its sandy beach, shops, cafes and interesting cultural scene.

North West: Stockport, Greater Manchester

Stockport was described as one of the most exciting towns around, with its historic streets filling up with independent businesses. It was praised for being functional and family-friendly, with rail connections, parks, sports clubs and good-value houses.

Scotland: West End, Dundee

Judges said their favourite place in Scotland – after North Berwick – is Dundee’s revitalised West End. It was described as lively and arty, with regular festivals and events.

South East: Folkestone, Kent

Folkestone was praised for its impressive schools, state-of-the-art sports facilities and high-speed trains to London.

South West: Sherborne, Dorset

Sherborne was described as handsome and historic, with a friendly, energetic population.

Wales: Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Judges highlighted the Abergavenny Food Festival and praised the town’s community spirit and strong and varied sporting scene.

More information about the research is available at

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