Preston is a small city located in the county of Lancashire, in the North of England. It’s less well-known or populous than nearby large cities like Liverpool or Manchester but has a lot of charm and plenty to do. Situated on the River Ribble, Preston has a long history with roots going back to Roman Britain.
Is Preston a good place to live? Preston is one of the better places to live in the UK and is one of the happiest towns in Lancashire. The cost of living is reasonable and employment is high. The city is well connected by road and rail; it’s in a pleasant location and has excellent amenities.
Whether you’ve been offered a job in Preston or you’re considering a degree course at University of Central Lancashire, you’ve come to this page because you have questions about the city. What’s it like to live in Preston? Where are the good and bad neighbourhoods? What are the schools in Preston like? How much does it cost to buy or rent a house? To find out everything you want to know about Preston, read on.
Is Preston a good place to live?
Preston tends to score very highly on surveys regarding the overall quality of life in UK towns and cities — especially according to metrics like health, availability of amenities, community life and access to education and employment. Preston isn’t as spectacular as some nearby cities but has a lot of advantages if you’re looking for a base to strike out from.
There aren’t really any bad neighbourhoods in Preston, although of course there’s some variation in affluence and desirability between different districts. Cottam, Penwortham, Woodplumpton, Broughton, Fulwood and Hutton are generally regarded as desirable, as are the outlying villages that are considered part of Preston. Fishwick, Grange, Brookfield and Callon Estate are some of the areas considered less desirable. Opinions on the city centre are mixed, with some people finding it very appealing and others preferring to live further out.
Crime levels on the whole are in line with the national average; that said, there are one or two hot spots. Preston city centre has a higher crime rate than the rest of the city, although this is true of virtually any city or large town. There are no truly dangerous streets in Preston and most people will live safely with basic common-sense security precautions.
Schools in Preston are generally very good, with some Preston high schools rated among the best in the UK. In particular, Archbishop Temple School and Broughton High School have been ranked among the top 10 UK schools. There are various further education options in or near Preston. The city is home to a number of religious schools, both Christian and Muslim. Sixth-form educational options include both A-levels and quality vocational courses. Preston has a teaching hospital (the Royal Preston Hospital). The University of Central Lancashire is located in Preston.
Transportation in Preston is very good. Several motorways pass near the city and there are plenty of road connections. Preston railway station is a major transport hub, offering connections throughout the North West. There are also long-distance train services from Preston to London Euston. Walking and cycling are well supported as modes of transport in and around the city. In particular, there’s a huge cycle route and public footpath known as the Guild Wheel; this encircles the entire city and connects Preston with the surrounding countryside.
Social life in Preston is lively, focusing largely on the city centre. Preston has numerous bars, clubs, pubs and an increasing number of micropubs selling artisanal spirits and craft beers. There is plenty of culture and entertainment. Preston is very community-spirited and social connections are strong.
Is Preston a good place to work?
The city of Preston has a strong industrial past, having once been a linchpin of the British textile industry. While the textile mills are now long gone, that industrial character has remained. While no longer as large a part of the economy as they once were, Preston’s docks are still very important and bring significant employment to the city. Preston’s location — situated close to several major motorways — has naturally created opportunities for the road haulage industry, particularly given the ready connections between road links and the city’s docks..
Preston has periodically struggled with spells of unemployment and the current employment rate is somewhat weaker than that of the country as a whole. Employment in some sectors is very robust, however.
The average salary is rather low (under £23,000 as compared to the national average of £29,000), although this is offset by the lower cost of living.
Preston’s major employment sectors are manufacturing, education, healthcare and the aerospace and defense sector. BAE Systems Inc. is among the largest employers in Preston. Other major employers include Lancashire County Council, the University of Central Lancashire and The National Health Service (NHS). The Westinghouse Electric Company has a nuclear reprocessing plant nearby which provides significant employment. The best-paying positions tend to be found at BAE Systems Inc. and companies in the telecommunications sector.
Is Preston a good place to buy a house?
While slightly higher than those in more rural areas of Lancashire, house prices in Preston are much lower than the national average.
The average house price in Preston is currently under £182,000; contrast this with a national average of around £400,000.
House prices vary significantly depending on where you plan to live; the city centre of Preston is generally the most expensive, along with some of the outlying villages. The low cost of property in Preston, along with the availability of more desirable property should one want to climb the property ladder, has attracted a lot of interest from prospective buyers from all over the country.
The average price for a one-bedroom house in Preston is around £110,000. A three-bedroomed house costs just over £162,000 on average, while a large five-bedroomed family home in Preston costs an average of £403,000.
Homes in Preston rent at around £800 pcm on average. It’s very easy to find a one-bedroomed house for rent at £450 pcm. Three-bedroomed houses rent at around £650 pcm. You can find a five-bedroom house for rent at around £1,400 pcm. Flats and house-shares are quite common and easy to find.
Is Preston a good place to retire?
Preston is a fairly good option for retirees. It offers an appealing combination of low property prices, a high standard of living and plenty of options for entertainment and travel outside of the city. That said, the number of retirement properties available is more limited than you might expect, with many retirees preferring a location closer to the coast.
The majority of retirement properties in Preston are flats, typically with one or two bedrooms. You can find some larger properties, mostly in the suburbs and villages on the outskirts of the city. These are mostly bungalows or park homes. The neighbourhood of Walton le Dale is popular with retirees; there are some very nice park homes (static caravans) available in this area. Seniors may wish to avoid the city centre, as property here is more expensive and the crime rate is somewhat higher than in the quieter outlying areas.
One-bedroom retirement properties start at under £40,000, with the average being about £90,000. Three-bedroom and five-bedroom retirement properties are unusual in Preston. If your care needs are not too significant you can easily find standard three and five-bedroom properties for an average of £162,000 and £403,000 respectively.
Rented retirement accommodation can be hard to come by and typically consists of one-bedroom or two-bedroom flats. The average one-bedroom retirement flat rents for around £400 or £500 per month.
Is Preston a good place to visit?
If you’re in the Lancashire area, Preston is a fun place to visit. The lively and burgeoning city centre offers lots of great accommodation options, including everything from boutique hotels to large luxury suites. Outside the centre of town, you can find charming B&Bs and self-catering establishments. The countryside around the city offers options such as cottages, caravan parks and campsites.
Preston is a bustling city with lots of events throughout the year, with the Flag Market and the Harris offering weekly events over the summer months. The city centre has excellent shopping, especially along Fishergate and in the two main shopping precincts. As well as all the big high-street names you’d expect to see in a city centre, you can also find lots of small independent shops.
Preston’s landmarks include several notable churches, in particular St Walburge’s Church and the Minster Church of St. John the Evangelist. Other important buildings are Preston Town Hall, the former Corn Exchange, the Harris Museum and the Miller Arcade. There are some especially lovely buildings from the Georgian period around Winckley Square. Preston is graced with plenty of green spaces, including Winckley Square Gardens, Avenham Park and Miller Park. Fans of scenic city walks or cycling won’t want to miss making a circuit of the Guild Wheel around the city.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.