Do you wonder if you and your family are living in the best place for you? Do you worry that you are losing out to a postcode lottery? Is it important to you to be near to good schools and other services? Or is being close to family and friends the key thing for you?
In a recent study by uSwitch.com (the independent price comparison and switching service) my own area didn’t score at all well in terms of quality of life for families. Seeing our local authority, Sandwell, in the bottom 10 isn’t really a surprise. Like most areas, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but there are many deprived areas within the authority. The local council does work hard to provide good services (it has a really good recycling system and has won a lot of lottery funding to rejuvenate our local parks). But problem areas remain, like finding good schools (especially at secondary level).
The Better Family Life Index ranks the UK’s 138 local authorities on aspects important to family life – including health, housing, crime, childcare, sleep, sunshine and time spent with family. It found that Hertfordshire is the best place for families to live in the UK (Scotland’s East & North Ayrshire mainland were the worst). It also includes suggestions on how we can improve our quality of life, both at a government level and for families themselves.
I think though that there’s a lot you can do to improve your own family’s quality of life, wherever you live in the country. There are ways of increasing your income and decreasing your outgoings to free up more money to create a more balanced household budget. Aside from money there are lots of things you can do to make your life a bit better without the need to splash the cash. My tips to improve your quality of life are:
- Regularly review your direct debits to make sure you aren’t still paying for something that you aren’t using e.g. insurance relating to a previous mortgage or a loan that’s been paid off.
- Consider if you are still getting value for money for any subscriptions you pay. Maybe see if you can downgrade your TV package if you don’t get around to watching the sport or the movies anymore. If you aren’t making it to the gym cut your losses. Use the money saved for some family treats each month.
- Get outdoors every day. If it’s raining, put on the raingear and the wellies if you need to. There’s something about a bit of fresh air and exercise that makes even the worse day seem better.
- Check out your local council’s website for details of school holiday or weekend activities. These are often free or only involve a small charge.
- Grow your own food if you have a garden. We do this, harvest it and often cook it together. Then we sit down to eat it together. Eating our own food gives us a real sense of pride.
- Think about how you can help with your child’s education. Parents can have a massive impact on their child’s educational performance. Supportive parents can really make a difference: you can always google for help if you are unsure about a topic and parental forums can help with specific questions.
- Sit down to watch a TV programme or a film together. We enjoy the shared experience and pause it to discuss things that either my son doesn’t understand or that we want to comment on.
From your perspective how do you think your area measures up when it comes to quality of family life? What do you think is the most important change you’ve done to make your family life better?
This post is in collaboration with uSwitch.com.