Personal Finance

Best UK Regions for Teachers to Live and Work

There are 800,000 nursery, primary and secondary teaching jobs in the UK, but where are the best places to be a teacher? We've crunched the numbers on jobs, pay and cost of living to find the best places to live and work as a teacher.

Teachers are the backbone of our society. They influence the next generation to develop their imaginations, learn useful skills, make decisions and function as a productive part of society—but they're in constant shortage. In fact, the BBC reported that teacher recruitment targets were missed in England for five years in a row and that 4 in 10 teachers plan to quit within 5 years.

Teachers are specially trained through teacher training courses to teach a broader primary curriculum to younger children or specialise in a subject like math or history to teach in secondary school. Being a teacher requires a high level of competence, knowledge, patience and compassion.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there are over 1,265,000 jobs related to teaching and the educational profession (1 out of every 18 jobs), of which 388,000 are nursery or primary teachers and 410,000 are secondary school teachers. But where are the best opportunities for teachers? We ranked UK regions to determine the best areas for teachers to live and work based on average salaries, job availability and the cost of living in different areas.

Table of Contents

Best Places in Great Britain for Nursery and Primary Teachers

The three best regions for nursery and primary teachers are Scotland, Wales, and the North West.

Infographic showing the best regions in Great Britain for nursery and primary
Best regions in Great Britain for nursery and primary teachers

Scotland

Scotland ranked as the best region in Great Britain for nursery and secondary teachers, due to a combination of a strong job market, good pay and a lower cost of living. Nursery and primary teachers in Scotland earn an average of £31,276 per year—the 3rd highest in Great Britain. A teacher's salary stretches further in Scotland when you take into account to cost of living.

To compare just how far a teacher's salary will go by region, we calculated a metric by dividing average teacher pay by the typical annual household spend. This Pay/Cost of Living metric was 1.22 in Scotland, which is 20% larger than the UK average. The North East, Wales and the West Midlands were the only regions with a higher cost-of-living-adjusted pay for teachers.

Scotland had the highest jobs density metric in the study, which means nursery and primary teachers should have a relatively easy time finding employment. In fact, Scotland is home to 23% more jobs on a per-capita basis of the working population than the UK average. With good jobs availability and higher pay—both outright and when adjusted for the local costs of living—Scotland is clearly a great place for nursery and primary teachers to call home.

Nursery and Primary Teachers in ScotlandMetric
Average Pay£31,276
Average Household Expenses£25,594
Number of Jobs39,000
Number of Economically Active People2,778,668
Pay/Cost of Living1.22
Jobs Density14.0

Wales

Wales ranked as the second best place for nursery and primary teachers, who earn £31,242 a year on average across the region (4th highest and just behind Scotland). Since the area has the second lowest cost of living, a teacher's salary goes quite a long way in Wales. In fact, the Pay/Cost of Living metric for Wales was 1.28, which is higher than Scotland's adjusted pay metric and 25% higher than the UK average. This makes Wales the second most affordable region to live on a nursery or primary teacher's salary behind the North East.

20,000 jobs for 1.5 million working people means there are 12.9 nursery or primary teaching jobs for every 1,000 economically active people. The nursing jobs density in Wales of 12.9 is slightly less than Scotland and the South East but still 14% higher than the UK average, so teachers shouldn't have trouble finding employment.

Nursery and Primary Teachers in WalesMetric
Average Pay£31,242
Average Household Expenses£24,461
Number of Jobs20,000
Number of Economically Active People1,545,270
Pay/Cost of Living1.28
Jobs Density12.9

North West

The North West is the third best region for nursery and primary teachers to live and work, providing a solid concentration of jobs, and good pay considering the cost of living.

Nursery and primary teachers earn an average of £30,132 per year in the North West, which is just shy of the UK average of £30,402. However a slightly lower-than-average cost of living means households spend less on typical expenses like food and housing so a teacher's pay goes further. In 2018 there were 43,000 nursery and primary teaching jobs in the North West, contributing to a jobs density of 11.8, which is 4% higher than average.

Nursery and Primary Teachers in the North WestMetric
Average Pay£30,132
Average Household Expenses£26,062
Number of Jobs43,000
Number of Economically Active People3,636,677
Pay/Cost of Living1.16
Jobs Density11.8

Top Regions for Nursery and Primary Teaching Jobs

Below we list the data on top regions for nursery and primary teaching jobs in Great Britain. Across all metrics, higher numbers are more desirable.

Overall RankRegionAverage Annual Primary and Nursery Teacher PayNumber of Primary and Nursery Teacher JobsJobs Density MetricPay/Cost of Living Metric
1Scotland£31,27639,00014.01.22
2Wales£31,24220,00012.91.28
3North West£30,13243,00011.81.16
4North East£31,39012,0009.41.32
5West Midlands£31,07629,0009.91.23
6London£34,79554,00011.11.02
7East Midlands£27,33928,00011.30.99
8South East£27,92263,00013.10.82
9Yorkshire and The Humber£29,12727,00010.01.08
10South West£27,91233,00011.30.94
11East£29,81728,0008.71.01
United Kingdom£30,402388,00011.41.02

Best Places in Great Britain for Secondary Teachers

The three best regions for secondary teachers are Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands.

Infographic showing the best regions in Great Britain for secondary teachers
Best regions in Great Britain for secondary teachers

Wales

Wales ranked as the best place to live and work as a secondary school teacher. Average annual pay of £34,692 in Wales is second only to London, where secondary teachers earn £39,593/year. When you adjust pay for typical costs of living in the region, teachers in Wales have more money to live on than in any other region. In Wales, the Pay/Cost of Living metric came out to 1.42, which is the best in the group and 22% higher than the UK average. This makes Wales the most affordable region to live on secondary teacher's salary.

In terms of jobs availability, there were 19,000 secondary teaching jobs which translates into a Jobs Density of 12.3, which means there are 12.3 secondary teaching jobs per 1,000 economically active people. This is 2% above the UK average of 12.0. Secondary teachers in Wales should have an average experience of finding employment.

Secondary Teachers in WalesMetric
Average Pay£34,692
Average Household Expenses£24,461
Number of Jobs19,000
Number of Economically Active People1,545,270
Pay/Cost of Living1.42
Jobs Density12.3

Scotland

Scotland ranked as the second best region in Great Britain for secondary teachers, where average pay is £32,892 per year. While this is not particularly high, the Pay/Cost of Living metric for secondary teachers was 1.29 in Scotland, which is 10% larger than the UK average.

Scotland had the second highest jobs density metric (13.0) for secondary teachers in the study, which is optimistic for those looking for employment and means there are 8% more jobs on a per-capita basis of the working population than the UK average.

With a solid and consistent performance in both jobs availability and pay, Scotland is clearly a great place for secondary teachers to live and work.

Secondary Teachers in ScotlandMetric
Average Pay£32,892
Average Household Expenses£25,594
Number of Jobs36,000
Number of Economically Active People2,778,668
Pay/Cost of Living1.29
Jobs Density13.0

West Midlands

The West Midlands is the third best region for secondary teachers, providing a slightly lower-than-average concentration of jobs and good pay considering the cost of living.

Secondary teachers earn an average of £33,291 per year in the West Midlands, which is 4% less of the UK average of £34,737. However lower living costs mean that households spend less to run so a teacher's pay goes further—the Pay/Cost of Living metric was 1.32 for the West Midlands. In 2018 there were 34,000 secondary teaching jobs in the West Midlands, contributing to a jobs density of 11.6, which is 4% less than the UK average.

Secondary Teachers in ScotlandMetric
Average Pay£33,291
Average Household Expenses£25,194
Number of Jobs34,000
Number of Economically Active People2,938,958
Pay/Cost of Living1.32
Jobs Density11.6

Top Regions for Secondary Teaching Jobs

Below we list the data on top regions for secondary teaching jobs in Great Britain. Across all metrics, higher numbers are more desirable.

Overall RankRegionAverage Annual Secondary Teacher PayNumber of Secondary Teaching JobsJobs Density MetricPay/Cost of Living Metric
1Wales£34,69219,00012.31.42
2Scotland£32,89236,00013.01.29
3West Midlands£33,29134,00011.61.32
4South East£34,11171,00014.71.00
5North East£33,18113,00010.21.39
6South West£33,97837,00012.71.14
7London£39,59360,00012.41.16
8North West£34,67237,00010.21.33
9East Midlands£34,67626,00010.51.25
10East£34,33834,00010.51.16
11Yorkshire and The Humber£32,62127,00010.01.20
United Kingdom£34,737410,00012.01.17

Methodology

NimbleFins' study assessed two key factors to determine the best places in Great Britain for teachers to pursue their careers. Note: data for Northern Ireland was not available for inclusion in our study.

1. Teaching job density per region

In 2018, there were 388,000 nursery and primary teaching jobs in the United Kingdom and 410,000 secondary teaching jobs, according to the Office for National Statistics. There were 34,071,000 economically active people in the United Kingdom, making the jobs density for nursery and primary teachers 11.4 and for secondary teachers 12.0 in the UK.

This means, for example, that there are 11.4 nursery and primary jobs for every 1,000 working people in the UK. We calculated this jobs density metric by dividing the number of jobs by the working population (388,000 divided by 34,071,000, then multiplying by 1,000 so the result is "jobs per thousand people").

The jobs density by region ranges from 8.7 in the East to 14.0 in Scotland for nursery and primary teacher and 10.0 in Yorkshire and the Humber to 14.7 in the South East for secondary teachers.

2. Pay/Cost of living index per region

While the average primary and nursery teacher earns £30,402 per year in the UK, and the average secondary school teacher earns £34,737, how far this money goes towards paying for living costs depends on where they live.

In determining the best places for teachers, it is important to understand how easily a teacher can afford essentials like housing, transportation, food and entertainment, as affordability plays a large role in our quality of life. To reflect the cost of living in different regions, we adjusted teacher pay in this study by the average household spending per region. The Pay/Cost of Living metric reflects the average gross pay divided by the average household expenditure.

To rank the regions, we calculated the percentage difference for each region's metrics compared to the UK averages. We then added up these differences and ranked the regions from highest to lowest so that regions with higher values for jobs density and pay/cost of living metrics ranked higher in the study.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team.

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