BristolNot much, you might think. But they are in fact all famous Bristolians who, in common with the 450,000 others who live in the biggest city in the south west of England, enjoy the best quality of life out of the UK’s 12 largest cities.

According to MoneySuperMarket’s first ever Quality of Living Index, which considers factors like rents, salaries, disposable income growth and the cost of living as well as unemployment rates and overall life satisfaction, Bristol beats other cities hands down.

Why Bristol takes top spot

So what exactly is it about good old Brizzle that makes residents so happy? Having lived there as a student nearly two decades ago, I can safely say it isn’t the weather. But there is certainly something magical about the place.

A few friendly greetings of ‘All right my luvver’ soon make you feel right at home, and the city itself is stunning. You can’t help but be impressed by landmarks such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s spectacular suspension bridge, which spans the beautiful Avon Gorge, and the gorgeous countryside just outside the city limits.

And Bristol is packed with fantastic restaurants, bars, theatres and museums, with each area having its own distinctive feel. Whether it’s upmarket Clifton or edgier Montpelier, there’s a part of Bristol to suit every taste.
Salaries there are also decent. The average employee salary in Bristol is £22,293 - above the UK average of £21,473, and the third highest out of the 12 largest UK cities. It also has the highest disposable income growth and one of the lowest UK unemployment rates at 8%.

Edinburgh rocks

Bristol is far from being alone in offering its residents a high quality of living. Edinburgh scoops second place in MoneySuperMarket’s Quality of Living Index, with the second highest average salary – London is top – of £24,628. And it has the lowest unemployment rate out of all the cities surveyed, at just 6.7%.

The cost of living in the Scottish capital is also low at an average £372.10 a week compared to the UK average of £401.10. And again it’s a spectacular city full of iconic attractions including the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat and, if you venture as far as Leith, the permanently moored Royal Yacht Britannia.

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London loses out along with Bradford and Sheffield

Although London has the biggest salaries, £30,471 on average, and the highest house prices in the country, the capital languishes in seventh place in the Quality of Living Index. Why so low? Life satisfaction in the capital is low at 7.3 versus a UK average of 7.4, with steep rents and mortgage costs, averaging at £131 and £179 a week respectively, dragging London down the table.

But the cities with the lowest quality of living in the UK, according to MoneySuperMarket’s research, are Bradford and Sheffield, along with Birmingham and Glasgow. This is down to a combination of low salaries, poor disposable income growth and higher than average unemployment rates.

Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySupermarket said; “The UK’s quality of living has suffered in recent years and, as a result, many households are struggling to make ends meet each month. In many ways this is understandable given that salary increases haven’t kept up with rising living costs – and millions of people haven’t seen their pay rise at all for the last few years.

“For most people, moving home or changing jobs to improve your quality of living isn’t possible. However, there are some key actions households can take today to help free up some extra cash and put some money back into their pocket to make their quality of life just that little bit better.”

Here are five things all of us can do to improve our quality of financial life, regardless of where we live, which might at least ease anxiety levels and help us enjoy living a bit more:

Take control of your finances. You can fight back against the rising cost of living by switching to the most competitive deals to free up spare cash. Moving to cheaper deals will ensure your money is working as hard as possible. Make sure you aren’t paying more than you need to for products and services and review any regular outgoings such as gym memberships and subscriptions – this could save you hundreds of pounds over a year.

Switch Energy Providers. Around 12.6 million households are paying £2 billion a year more than they need to for their energy by sticking with their provider’s standard gas and electricity tarifss. SSE, npower and British Gas have already announced their prices will rise this winter and other providers are expected to follow suit, so there’s no time to delay. Switching to a fixed online deal could save you around £200 on the cost of your annual bill and also give peace of mind that you’ll be protected from more price increases for at least 12 months.

Consolidate existing debts. If you’ve got existing debts, consider switching to a cheaper credit card or personal loan to reduce the amount of interest being charged. For example, switching a £2,500 debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card from one with an average annual percentage rate (APR) of 18.9% would save over £300 in interest over 12 months.

Reduce your motoring costs. There might be little motorists can do about fuel prices, but there are still plenty of ways to bring the cost of motoring down. Driving more efficiently, reducing excess weight and and making sure your tyre pressure is correct can all help lower motoring costs. If you commute to work, consider car-sharing and split the costs. When buying petrol or diesel, use MoneySuperMarket’s fuel calculator to help you decide whether it is worth driving the extra distance for cheaper fuel.

Switch your mortgage. For most people, their mortgage is their biggest monthly outgoing. Making sure you are on the cheapest deal can save you thousands of pounds over the years, so if you haven’t remortgaged recently, check to see if you could do better elsewhere. For example, switching a £100,000 mortgage from an average standard variable rate of 4.32% to the market leading 2-year fixed rate mortgage from HSBC at 1.49% would save £1,509 over the period of the deal, which includes the £1,999 fee.

Quality of living UK index

UK 12 largest cities

Quality of Living Index Score

Bristol

0.725

Edinburgh

0.697

Cardiff

0.659

Liverpool

0.629

Leeds

0.587

Manchester

0.585

London

0.569

Belfast

0.558

Glasgow

0.549

Birmingham

0.544

Sheffield

0.519

Bradford

0.513

Source: Opinium Reasearch 2013

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct