The best UK cities to live and work in

There's life beyond London — and technology is helping make these UK cities great places to live and work

London skyline

Where we choose to live is, more often than not, out of our hands, dependent on our families, our jobs, or where we went to school. Imagine if none of that mattered and you could choose where to live based on more important features, such as broadband speeds, smart city savvy, or driverless car tests these would be the British cities you should consider.

York: The city with the fastest broadband

Tired of slow internet connections? Zip on over to York, which has the fastest broadband in the UK. That's largely down to its status as the UK's first "gigabit city", with fibre optic lines rolled out across swathes of the city thanks to CityFibre, Sky and TalkTalk. That puts York well ahead of other cities in the UK, with full fibre covering just 3% of the country, according to The Times. However, those lucky enough to live inside the historic city's walls won't get the superfast broadband, as it requires digging trenches, and no-one wants to disturb the pretty cobbled streets.

Middlesbrough: The city with the best mobile coverage

Of course, you don't always want to stay home with your speedy broadband if that's the case, Middlesbrough is the place to call home. OpenSignal research has revealed that residents of Middlesbrough have the best chance of getting a 4G signal, some 82.7% of the time. On the downside, the speeds aren't as fast as elsewhere, with an average 20.8Mbps. That's perfectly serviceable, but a far cry from league-table leader Stoke-on-Trent, which posted an average 4G speed of 26.6Mbps. Decide whether you want consistency or speed with your mobile broadband, and then make your move to Middlesbrough or Stoke accordingly.

Milton Keynes: The city with a driverless future

Lack a drivers' license? Tired of spending your commuting hours behind the wheel? Move to Milton Keynes. The city is a testbed for driverless and connected car trials. Wander down to the train station, and you may well see robotic pods ferrying shoppers to and fro, as 40 are set to hit the roads offering rides this year. But if you do stick to walking down the pavement, you may be passed by a Starship delivery robot. If you want to live the future of driverless cars now, Milton Keynes is the place to be.

Bristol: An up and coming smart city

There's plenty of smart city tech in use across the UK, but head to Bristol to see how connectivity, sensors, and analytics can help make a city a better place to live. That's according to Huawei's annual smart city index, which ranked Bristol first for its efforts to integrate its various tech initiatives into the city's operations; it pipped London, Manchester and Birmingham for the honour.

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What does a smart Bristol look like? The report cited digital traffic management, connected CCTV, telecare services, and alarm monitoring at the City Operations Centre, as well as the Bristol is Open joint venture with the University of Bristol. Other interesting projects include the Data Dome, an upgrade to the planetarium to display data visualisations, the "damp busters" pilot, which uses sensors to track damp in private homes, and efforts to solve traffic challenges, leading to a series of transport apps as well as a drive to install electric vehicle charging points. This is the likely future of all cities, but it's here now in Bristol.

Slough: The city with the most job openings

Each year, employer rating site Glassdoor runs the numbers on the towns and cities with the most job openings, ranking the UK cities with the most opportunities and highest pay. So if you're looking for work, look no further than... Slough.

Home to a huge number of multinational companies, including tech giants, the city scored 4.3 out of 5 in Glassdoor's rating system, with 22,131 job openings and a median base salary of 29,500. Plus, it has great transport links if you feel the need to get out of town. If Slough doesn't appeal, the cities rated second and third by Glassdoor were Gloucester and Cambridge.

Newbury: The city where the most tech companies reside

The folks over at Tech Nation counted up all the tech companies in the UK, and have declared the city with the highest "digital density": Newbury. The Berkshire city is home to the headquarters of Vodafone, among other tech companies, making it "the most tech specialised local economy in the UK". While London's digital density score is actually below the UK average at 0.92, the report said, Newbury posted a 15.5 score. Head there if you want to be surrounded by fellow techies.

London: The UK city with the best public transport

This likely won't come as a surprise: as much as we love the horse-drawn tramways on the Isle of Man and the trams snaking around Manchester, there's no question London has the best public transport in the nation. That's according to CityMetric analysis of data from the Institute of Public Policy Research, with 45% of Londoners commuting some twenty-odd points more than the next city in line, Edinburgh. And no wonder, given the trains, tubes, boats, buses and even cable cars on offer to ferry Londoners around the capital. Complain all you want about housing prices, but at least the public transport is worth crowing about.

Edinburgh (or maybe Manchester): The best UK city to live in

No, it's not London. The best UK to city to live in, according to research by Royal Mail, is Edinburgh. The lovely Scottish capital not only has its month of festivals, beautiful architecture and beguiling food, but also ranked highly on education, housing costs, earnings, employment, and green space, which covers 28% of the city. Those features, as well as its cheaper-than-Shoreditch office space means Edinburgh is starting to draw startups, too. Of course, such rankings are rather subjective; a rival ranking placed Manchester tops in the UK in terms of "livability". Either way, perhaps it's time to head north.

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