The South West: The place to live and work


An established UK destination, the South West is attracting talent and business: home to a population of 5.7m and growing by 14% since 2002. The region’s annual economic output of £35bn is a testament to its increasing importance as both a cultural and economic hub.  the South West is a diverse area, with discrete confidence, going about its business of hosting and delivering national infrastructure projects and enabling a new era of clean and inclusive growth.

Here we explore what makes the South West, the place to be.

South West: The place to live

The South West dominates the recent Garrington’s Best Places to Live in 2022 research report with all of the top three and half of the top ten destinations included in the report located in the South West. Bath, Lyme Regis, Salisbury coming first, second & third respectively, also Fowley and Wilton coming sixth and seven. View the full list here.

Brimming with young talent

The South West is home to a growing list of world-leading companies across R&D, aerospace and advanced manufacturing, including Leonardo, Airbus & Pure Electric.  

The region has a genuine commitment to sustainability, working hard to advance clean growth, regenerate places and generate social value and business opportunity. Over 86,000 under/postgraduates are studying in the region at industry-focussed colleges and universities that are providing modern curricula from advanced engineering through to cyber security at both early-career level, degree and higher apprenticeship as well as a graduate-level from education institutions, including the University of Bristol, UWE, Bath University and the University of Exeter and Bridgwater & Taunton College to name a few.

Region for Clean and Inclusive Growth

New and established businesses are making the strategic decision to make the region their home. This is reflected in the South West having a far lower rate of unemployment (3.7%) than the UK average (4.8%), making it attractive to retain and grow new talent

According to EY’s Regional Economic Forecast Bristol is predicted to be the fastest-growing city outside of London between 2020-23. Bristol continues to attract and retain London talent, with record numbers making the switch in 2020. Those moving to the South West from the capital are tempted by the prospect of larger and more affordable housing, diverse job opportunities, and the growing cultural significance.

Even since the days of Cornish tin mining, there have always been significant commercial activities based in the south west which have now developed into rapidly developing advanced manufacturing, engineering skills and innovation. Somerset is hosting national infrastructure projects like Hinkley Point C and Hinkley C Connection Group, it is enabling transformational change at Gravity, creating strategically important coastal re-alignment projects at Steart and investing in the environment and transition to a lower-carbon economy, creating skills for a greener economy. The future of Somerset and the wider South West is an exciting reality.

The South West: Rural heartbeat

For those that want to experience a high-quality, home-work-life balance, the South West offers a plethora of towns and villages bursting with culture and heritage. Destinations of note include.

  • Wells, which is billed as one of the friendliest small cities, the Sunday Times voted Wells as one of the top places to live in the UK in 2020
  • Frome, which lies in the eastern part of Somerset in a rural community, with the Sunday Times judging it as one of the best places to live in the South-West of England in 2019.

Somerset and the wider South West offers a true escape for those seeking new opportunities and a fantastic quality of life.

For the young adults in the region we must ensure new jobs take account of their ambitions and needs to enable them to stay and thrive. 

Providing An Exceptional Environment for Tomorrow’s workforce

The South West is blessed with a rich heritage that stretches back centuries, you can explore myths and legends of Arthur and King Alfred, study iconic places of worship – Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey or experience well-known TV/Film locations.

To this day the South West continues its legacy as a cultural hub, the region is home to the Glastonbury Music Festival, for those who are more active they can surf on the beaches in North Devon, Mountain bike in the Quantock, Mendip and Blackdown Hills in Somerset – all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, explore the Exmoor National Park, or walk the 760 miles of the picturesque South West Coast path.

Since early 2020 pre-existing work trends have only accelerated; these include the increased demand for flexible work solutions, access to outside space, and healthier work environments promoting better mental health. Tomorrow’s workforce is also placing greater value on autonomy – in how they work, how they get to and from work and what they do outside of work.

Gravity Smart Campus located near Bridgwater, the heart of the South West was created to provide forward-thinking companies with flexible space, and smart infrastructure within a natural environment so that they can attract the best of tomorrow’s talent and grow, sustainably.

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