Cambridge ‘most vibrant’ and entrepreneurial place to live in England

Economically prosperous parts of London, Birmingham and Manchester not the happiest or healthiest places to live, report claims

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Direct to your inbox Email Newsletter viewed on a phone

Sign up to the Startups Weekly Newsletter

Stay informed on the top business stories with’s weekly email newsletter


Cambridge, Oxford and Richmond upon Thames are the “most vibrant” places to live in England because they strike a good balance between economic growth, social equality and sustainability, a new index from Grant Thornton UK LLP suggests today.

The accounting firm analysed 324 local authorities across England to measure which towns and cities rank highest for social and economic performance and are, ultimately, the happiest and healthiest places to live.

Cambridge topped the Vibrant Economy Index as the most prosperous place to live. It scored highly for innovation and entrepreneurship with patent registration figures  10 times the national average (491.66 per 100,000 residents), and the proportion of the city’s employees working in R&D almost 11 times the national average (4.93% compared to 0.45%).

The index found that efforts to focus on improving the economic performance of a place doesn’t always translate into creating a healthy, happy place to live, or one in which individuals feel socially included.

So,for instance, parts of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds – all ranked highly as top places to start a business – were found to under-perform in terms of wellbeing, happiness, equality and inclusivity.

Those living in the capital, in particular, were found to be more likely to suffer from anxiety than in many other parts of England.

The study also found that urban areas have the unhealthier populations therefore rural areas – such as the Suffolk Coast and Derbyshire Dales – and commuter areas – such as Hertfordshire and Surrey outside of London – tend to have happier and healthier communities.

The Vibrant Economy Index found that England’s top performing towns and cities are:

  1. Cambridge
  2. Oxford
  3. Richmond
  4. South Cambridgeshire
  5. Guildford
  6. Wokingham
  7. Windsor and Maidenhead
  8. Vale of White Horse
  9. Winchester
  10. Reigate and Banstead

This can be compared to’s Start-up Cities Index, which named the top 10 places to start a business in the UK (outside of London) as:

  1. Bristol
  2. Oxford
  3. Edinburgh
  4. Leeds
  5. Cambridge
  6. Manchester
  7. Sheffield
  8. Birmingham
  9. Cardiff
  10. Glasgow

Reflecting on the findings, Grant Thornton CEO, Sacha Romanovitch, said:

“The index demonstrates that if we want to create places that provide opportunity for all, we need to focus on more than headlines about economic prosperity. Higher employment levels or strong business growth need to translate into the creation of communities that are more inclusive and equal, where populations are healthy and happy.

“While economic performance is fundamentally important to the future of the UK, we need to ensure that this prosperity can also positively impact other factors including health outcomes, housing affordability, personal wellbeing and social inclusion.

“We need an economy that produces wealth and creates jobs, one where the trust and integrity of businesses and institutions enables entrepreneurial and innovative growth, and where everyone can benefit from that economic growth in a healthy and active environment, which must be sustainable for the long-term.”

Written by:

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top