The best cities in the UK for small business owners with families

by SumUp Team

Published • 08/07/2024

Starting a business

The best cities in the UK for small business owners with families

by SumUp Team

Published • 08/07/2024

Starting a business

Establishing and running your own small business is no mean feat, especially when raising a family at the same time. However, the UK is home to various thriving independent business owners who juggle work and home commitments simultaneously.  

Choosing the right location to set up shop is crucial when it comes to establishing an independent business, especially while maintaining your family’s well being – and, luckily, the UK has various family-friendly cities which offer the perfect environments. But which are the best locations? We decided to find out!  

To do so, we looked at 11 different factors, including rent costs, green space, safety scores and schools. After, each city received a score out of 11. And the higher the score, the better we deem the city! So, without further ado, let’s dive into the results. 


The top UK cities for independent business owners and their families   

From cosy coffee shops to unique clothing boutiques, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to shopping and dining local in the UK. Below, we’ve delved into the top five family-friendly cities which allow small businesses to flourish.  

1. London 

Up first, we have the capital, with a score of 6.949 out of 11. While London unsurprisingly has the highest average monthly rent costs (£2858.97) and high utility costs too (£3430.71), it’s a city which has a lot to offer families.  

Here, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly amenities, such as 229 nurseries, 724 child-friendly activities (by far the highest on our list), and 92 sports camps. So, it’s no surprise that business owners who are also raising families might want to set up shop here.   

2. Belfast   

Next up we have Belfast, which has a total score of 5.785. The monthly rental costs in Belfast are much lower than London (£1066.67), plus monthly utility costs are far less than in London, coming in at £1486.59.  

If you’re a business owner with an outdoorsy family, Belfast offers 44.52% green space, perfect for decompressing after a long working week. Also, the city has a safety score of 53.69, indicating it’s a great place to build a business while watching your family grow.  

 3. Leeds  

  Leeds takes third on our list, with an overall score of 5.688. In the city, you’ll find similar rent costs to Belfast (£1055.56), and there’s a similar amount of green space too, with 41.9% of the city composed of parkland and nature.  

When it comes to safety, Leeds has a score of 55.98 (the highest out of our top five). And with 169 schools and 170 nurseries, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to education too. Incidentally, Leeds is also home to 84 playgrounds and 42 entertainment centres, offering plenty of opportunities for children to grow, play, and thrive.   

4. Liverpool   

With a score of 5.564, Liverpool claims the fourth spot on our list of the best family-friendly cities for business owners. With the lowest monthly rental costs in our top five (£815.63), it’s clear why business owners with families are drawn to Merseyside. 

Liverpool also has the second highest number of schools, with 205, and 84 playgrounds too (the same as Leeds). You’ll also find 84 entertainment centres, and 104 child-friendly activities in the city, perfect for all-important family time at weekends.  

5. Birmingham  

Last but by no means least is Birmingham, with a total score of 5.386. With 198 schools and 225 nurseries, the city is great when it comes to childcare and education options.  

There are also 8 sports camps (the second highest on our list) as well as 57 entertainment centres! Finally, with 106 child-friendly activities, there are plenty of options for parents to choose from.  

So, there we have it, the best cities in the UK for small business owners with families. From the variety of childcare options in the capital, to Leeds’ green space and Liverpool’s entertainments centres, there are multiple family-friendly locations.  

Of course, while we’ve only outlined the top five in detail, many other wonderful cities made it into our wider ranking: Nottingham for instance followed closely with a score of 5.314, and Glasgow placed highly too (scoring 5.240).  

It’s clear that opening your business in the right location can contribute not only to your success but also to family wellbeing. So, if you’re ever in one of these UK cities, make sure to shop local and support smaller businesses. Or, if you’re a budding entrepreneur with a family of your own, have you considered setting up shop in one of the above locations? If so, we’ve got plenty more business guides for you to dive into!  


This dataset ranks 25 UK cities based on how well-placed they are for opening a business while also providing a good family life.  

To achieve this, 11 different factors were used:  

  • Monthly Childcare Cost - The average cost of private childcare for 1 child per month, in each city (low values get a high index score). 

  • Monthly Rent Cost - The average cost of a 3-bedroom apartment which is not in the city centre, in each city (low values get a high index score). 

  • Monthly Utility Cost - The average monthly cost of utilities for a 1000m2 apartment based on data for a 85m2 apartment, in each city (low values get a high index score). 

  • Green Area- The percentage of land in each city that is officially designated as green spaces. 

  • Safety Score - A score ranking the safety levels within each city, with a higher score indicating better safety. 

  • No. of Schools - The number of schools in each city according to google maps. 

  • No. of Nurseries - The number of nurseries/playgroups in each city according to google maps. 

  • No. of Playgrounds - The number of playgrounds in each city according to google maps. 

  • No. of Child-Friendly Activities - The total number of child-friendly activities in each city. 

  • No. of Sports Camps - The number of sports camps in each city. 

  • No. of Entertainment Centres - The number of game & entertainment centres in each city. 


Once the data for each factor was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each one with a score between 0 and 1. If data was not available, a score of 0 was given. The normalised values were then summed, to give each location a total score out of 11. The locations were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.   

All data is correct as of 23/05/24. The ranking data shown is a compilation of multiple data sources and may not be representative of real life. All data is accurate with regards to the sources provided. 

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