Usk, Monmouthshire has been named the best place to live in Wales. It is top of a list of 6 locations in the region chosen by The Sunday Times to represent the best of Britain in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide.
The comprehensive guide is released online today and will be available in the paper on Sunday.
The Sunday Times’s expert judges behind the guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.
They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit – which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.
A detailed breakdown of house prices has been supplied by data specialists TwentyCi and information on internet speeds has been supplied by Thinkbroadband.com, the UK’s leading independent guide to broadband.
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2021: Wales
- Winner: Usk, Monmouthshire
- Aberdyfi, Gwynedd
- Cleddau Estuary, Pembrokeshire
- Llandeilo and the Tywi Valley, Carmarthenshire
- Narberth, Pembrokeshire
- Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times Property Editor said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings. With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.
“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.
“The Town of Flowers is our top choice in Wales, thanks to the unrivalled enthusiasm of its population whose efforts and energy are behind Usk’s award-winning floral displays and much more.
“The town centre is attractive and independent, the surrounding countryside a delight and Cardiff and Bristol are within easy reach.”
Usk: It was the community spirit that caught the judges’ eyes here: there are 60 thriving community groups which were stronger than ever in the pandemic, with the Usk in Bloom volunteers lifting everyone’s spirits with a riot of pink and purple petals.
There is a farmers’ market and plenty of independent shops, galleries and cafés. Local produce is to the fore, thanks to an excellent butcher, the ice cream at the Parlour and the cakes at Morris’s of Usk garden centre.
The high street is home to salons, restaurants such as 57 Bridge Street and a dozen or so pubs and bars, which remain at the heart of life, including The New Court Inn, the Lines Brew Co, White Hare Distillery or the Mad Platter.
There are thriving rugby and football clubs and the cricket club has one of the most attractive grounds around.
Average sale price: £475,000
Average rental: £800 pcm
Aberdyfi: This was the judges’ favourite Welsh seaside town, thanks to its “endless sandy beach, sparkling night skies and ever-changing estuary views.” They like the friendly community, the pizza from Coast deli, the fresh fish on sale from Dai’s Hut on the pier and the award-winning ice cream from the candy floss-coloured Sweet Shop.
Average sale price: £370,000
Average rental: n/a
The Cleddau Estuary “Villages such as Lawrenny, Llangwm and Landshipping offer waterside living at its most serene on the aptly named ‘Secret Waterway’, with riverside pubs, jaw-dropping views and wonderful wildlife,” was the judges’ verdict here. Their favourite things included the Lawrenny Arms and Quayside tearoom in Lawrenny, along with the village shop which is open to residents 24 hours a day via a keycard. And although it feels remote, Narberth and Tenby are only a short drive away.
Average sale price: £250,000
Average rental: £650 pcm
Llandeilo “This pretty West Wales market town has transformed itself into a sophisticated shopping destination and a great showcase for local arts and crafts. The villages of the surrounding Towy Valley are a delight, too,” said the judges. They were impressed with the range of shops, from the luxurious chocolate shop Heavenly to the designer fashions at the Toast discount store, and the arts and crafts on display in the Crafts Alive gallery, as well as the beautiful scenery and views from the neo folly of Paxton’s Tower and Carreg Cennen, aromantic ruined clifftop castle.
Average sale price: £219,000
Average rental: £520 pcm
Narberth: “A gem of a high street remains Narberth’s greatest asset, with the riches on offer ranging from clothes, homeware and arts and crafts to local produce from Andrew Rees’s butchers or the Welsh deli Fforc,” said the judges.
They also highlighted the sense of community on display at the Bloomfield House Community Centre, which hosts all kinds of classes and clubs as well as a waste-busting community fridge where residents can help themselves to produce that would otherwise be thrown away. Pembrokeshire’s extraordinary beaches are only a short distance away.
Average sale price: £185,000
Average rental: £600 pcm
Penarth: is unrivalled as Cardiff’s best suburb, thanks to its sea views and a healthy outdoor lifestyle that has been the perfect antidote to the pandemic, according to the judges. They were impressed with the way the town has adapted to the “new normal” with online yoga classes and takeaway Sunday lunches from the Old Custom House. And they also admired the kindness shown by volunteer groups such as Scrub a Dub Dub Penarth, which made scrubs for frontline workers and Helping Hands, which has been raising money, delivering goody bags to carers, collecting shopping and devising imaginative ways to lighten the gloom, such as “activity banks”, where families can pick up books, games and DVDs.
Average sale price: £300,000
Average rental: £800 pcm
The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in Britain covers the following regions: North and Northeast, Midlands, Northern Ireland, Southeast, Wales, Southwest, East, London, Scotland and the Northwest.
Stroud, Gloucestershire was named as the Best Place to Live in Britain.