When working in industries such as plumbing, joining and decorating, where you choose to base yourself can make a big difference to your success. Working a trade can be dependent on outside factors such as wage, education, cost of living, and the work that’s available.

Understanding what the best cities are for tradespeople is a valuable asset for those working in the industry, and bathroom suppliers Sanctuary Bathroom has conducted research to find out which cities in the UK are currently leading the way.

The research included comparing cities across factors that make them suitable for tradespeople.

The study drew on data that highlighted your level of competition (percentage of tradespeople in each city’s workforce) and opportunity (rating for trade courses at the local university). It also included the average wage and cost of living to find out which city puts you in the best position financially.

The cities were given an average percentile score across each of the ranking factors, revealing the following top ten places to live for tradespeople across the UK. The top cities for tradespeople in the UK are listed below:

10) Bristol

  • Total Score308
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 6.2%
  • University course rating: 94.2/10
  • Cost of living score: 77.17/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £22,616

Bristol comes in 10th place, but still makes a great place to settle if you’re working a trade. It has a university with a good reputation for people looking to further their education in trades-related industries.

A building course with a rating of 94.2 out of 100 is available at The West of England University.

Bristol is let down by the percentage of tradespeople in its workforce. With just 6.2%, there may be limited opportunities in the South East for people looking to work a trade.


9) Manchester

  • Total Score: 331
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 7.7%
  • University course rating: 93.1/100
  • Cost of living score: 77.63/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £24,392

Manchester has more people working in trade and offers a good average wage. Electricians, plumbers, and joiners working in Manchester earn the third-highest average salary.

Salford University offers training opportunities for those based in Manchester looking to further their skill set, with an average course rating of 93.1.

Despite scoring well in many of the ranking factors, Manchester’s expensive cost of living prevents it from moving any higher on the list.


8) Cardiff

  • Total Score: 354
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 6.5%
  • University course rating: 90.3/100
  • Cost of living score: 69.88/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £23,000

Cardiff promises to be a good place for tradespeople looking to save some money.

It scores well for both cost of living and average wage. Unfortunately, due to a low percentage of tradespeople and a university course rating lower than some of its rivals, Cardiff settles for 8th place.


7) Nottingham

  • Total Score: 364
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 8.6%
  • University course rating: 96.1/100
  • Cost of living score: 73.94/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £22,723

If you’re looking to establish yourself in a trade or set up a business of your own, Nottingham makes an ideal choice.

With 8.6% of its population working in a trade, this is the third highest in the top ten. It also offers a university course with a rating of 96.1, making it a great place to gain further education in your field.


6) Leeds

  • Total Score: 466
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 10.3%
  • University course rating: 90.6/100
  • Cost of living score: 73.57/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £24,211

10.3% of Leeds’ workforce is made up by tradespeople, earning the northern city its place in the rankings. The city also offers a good average wage and cost of living.

Despite middling scores for both for the majority of ranking factors, it isn’t enough to push Leeds any higher in the table.


5) Birmingham

  • Total Score: 478
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 8.8%
  • University course rating: 91.2/100
  • Cost of living score: 72.86/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £23,857

There isn’t a great deal separating Birmingham and Leeds. The largest city outside of London has 8.8% of its workforce made up of tradespeople, the second highest in the top ten.

It too scores well across all of the ranking factors but edges Leeds in sixth based on university course rating and cost of living.


4) London

  • Total Score: 510
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 7.2%
  • University course rating: 99.2/100
  • Cost of living score: 89.55/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £28,175

The capital has a wide range of scores. It promises the highest average wage by some distance, but the benefits of this are limited by the expensive cost of living that faces workers in London.

A strong university score is what pushes London further up the top ten; for example, University College London has a course rating of 99.2.

Meaning as long as it’s affordable, London promises the best education for those looking to further their experience in a particular field.


3) Glasgow

  • Total Score: 532
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 7.8%
  • University course rating: 95/100
  • Cost of living score: 74.19 /100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £25,776

General high scores across the board make Glasgow the third best city for tradespeople.

When accommodating cheap cost of living, Glasgow is the best city if you’re looking to earn the most money, as evidenced by the second highest average wage and reasonable living costs.

It also offers a good university course with a rating of 95 and plenty of job opportunities.


2) Newcastle

  • Total Score: 553
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 8.5%
  • University course rating: 94/100
  • Cost of living score: 69.68/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £24,294

There are plenty of opportunities for tradespeople looking to settle in Newcastle. The university offers a course rating of 94, and 8.5% of its workforce is made up of people working in the industry.

For those working in Newcastle, the average wage is £24,294. Couple this with the cheapest cost of living in the top ten, and you’re in a good position to put some money away by picking up a trade in the North East.


1) Liverpool

  • Total Score: 564
  • Percentage of tradespeople in workforce: 8%
  • University course rating: 93.3/100
  • Cost of living score: 70.77/100
  • Average wage of tradespeople (based on joiner, plumber, electrician and painter and decorator): £23,903.75

The number one city for tradespeople is Liverpool. Over in Merseyside, they score highly across all the different factors used in the study. Low cost of living and a good average salary means there is plenty of earning potential.

A strong university course rating and a high percentage of tradespeople in the workforce means there is no shortage of work or education available. Liverpool promises plenty of opportunities and a great quality of life to tradespeople living in the city.



This article could prove a useful guide for tradespeople looking to relocate or set up their own business.

Using different ranking factors offers the opportunity to compare cities on what’s most important to individuals when looking for somewhere to settle.

Written By
James Roberts is the Director of UK-based luxury bathroom retailer Sanctuary Bathrooms, specialising in products from freestanding baths to vanity wall units. The family-owned company has a showroom in Leeds, Yorkshire and has a customer-base internationally. He is involved in all aspects of the day-to-day running of the business, with a keen focus on the company’s marketing.

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