Best place to be a commoner?

On another thread someone posted that, in their opinion, there was no where better to be a commoner (*) than blighty. The thread was not about that but it seemed an interesting notion.

  • I’m guessing by commoner we are meaning ordinary folk, no flash degree or flash job or flash car, staying local, not huge salary (but I’m open to other definitions).
    So here’s my question - is this notion correct? For my money, I would challenge the idea that the UK is best for ‘commoners’.

The best place to be a commoner is the New Forest Hampshire .
I lived there for 30yrs and was a commoner .
You have to be living in a property with communing rights.
I was allowed to graze cattle, ponies ,sheep on the forest, in the autumn turn pigs out onto the forest to eat acorns, dig for clay, gather fallen wood .
Best of all receive a years supply of logs for the fire.
There were also many ancient rights …


Excellent - and what a fantastic & beautiful place to live. Not all of us have cattle, ponies or sheep (but nice to have the option). But as a specific location for a commoner I suspect your new forest claim will take some beating. Shame its such a very limited number who can access these common benefits.

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Except for the fact that the UK can’t feed its population without imports. I would rather be somewhere that was at least self sufficient in food.

Food and shelter are the most basic of needs.

I’ll bet just about every country says it is the best place to be in the world (which is effectively what the thread is about)

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I’m not so sure that this is what this thread is about. I’d hoped this thread might be about comparisons. You, living in Oz but knowing the UK, might have a perspective on how things fair across two countries for ordinary people. I know people in Australia and have visited a few times. My impression is that for people in ordinary jobs your country is a far, far better place to live than the UK.

I enjoy living in my lovely corner of England and can’t see me leaving it now but I wouldn’t choose UK as the best place for “commoners” when there’s so many countries which are less “class conscious” than ours - we may not be as rigidly class conscious as we used to be but there is still quite a lot of snootiness about social standing and the country still tends to be run by the elite class who went to certain private schools, speak in a posh accent and are friends or relatives of people with high social standing and lots of money.

When you look at lists of countries which score highly for Quality of Life, Income Equality, Well-developed public health service and education systems, there are plenty of countries which score more highly than UK.

Denmark is a country which immediately sprang to my mind and I see it comes 2nd after Sweden for lots of categories in the “Best Country to live” list for most things.
A friend of mine moved there about 25 years ago, when he couldn’t earn enough to live on and pay child support maintenance to his ex on the wages he could earn in UK.
In UK, he did manual labour, for an animal feed producer at a feed-bagging plant.
He found a job doing the same work in Denmark for a much higher wage, he got a lovely 2 bedroomed home with large garden in a nice area for less rent than he paid in UK for a poky one bedroomed flat plus a much better standard of living and quality of life.
He planned to work there only until his son was grown up and he no longer had to pay maintenance costs but he loves living there, so he has stayed on. He had to apply for new residency rights under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
I have visited him in Denmark several times and I can see why he loves living there - I think I’d enjoy living there myself.

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The quality and quantity of crumbs dished out here by our elite puts us firmly in the top ten, if not in pole position.

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Yes, we are in the Top Ten - our overall ranking was Number 8 in the list I looked at - but Number 12 for Quality of Life, 15 for Income Equality and 22 for a comfortable retirement - good job market now, though - number 3.

What is the definition of a commoner ?

All fur coat and no knickers.

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Denmark surely is a great example of how very ordinary people in very ordinary jobs still have a very good quality of life - decent salary, good living accommodation. And no snootiness about the actual job they do. Compares very favourably to the UK.

I know we all moan about the NHS but having it must make us one of the best places to live as a commoner although I have to admit Canada really impressed me when I was there but it would be hard to leave Yorkshire …I’m sure if Judd and Lionqueen were here today they would be saying the same.

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I’m a fan of the NHS but it does not stand out as the best provider of free health care for ordinary people - other countries do the same and in some cases a bit better. Obviously there are nutcase countries like the US which is determined to punish unwell people on low incomes but most other first world countries have health care systems that support ordinary people. So I’m unconvinced that this is a reason that the UK is best for common people compared to other places.

I think the U.K. is the best place to be anyone but I am biased :rofl:

But I also think it’s a difficult place to be a commoner if you have ideas above your station, and have aspirations for your children

I think our education system is very poor and while we have private education running along side it, it won’t get better.

Same with the NHS, if you can’t pay for private and don’t have the confidence, education and knowledge to push for what you need, you sink to the bottom

Housing opportunity is also poor. Since the council house sell off there’s very little reasonably priced accommodation that people on a minimum wage can afford, and they get exploited by rogue landlords

There will always be people on low incomes who can’t afford to buy and they’re simply not catered for

There’s also a strong class system that encourages staying in your place. There’s no encouragement for ‘commoners’ to get educated, go to Uni and get professional jobs, all the emphasis is on apprentices etc

We do at least have minimum wage, although that may change if the Tories have their way now we’re not in the EU and not covered by their regulations. Same with sick pay, maternity/paternity leave, annual leave etc

The age limit for the state pension is going up and up, so if your a commoner and that is going to be your only retirement income, you’ll be in harness for a lot more years, compared to France, where it’s going to be 64

And the government are planning on taking away workers rights to strike and protest about other things, so it will be harder for ‘commoners’ to fight back

The U.K. is a fantastic country and we’re extremely lucky but I do think there is quite a rigid class system, maintained by the chumocracy in Parliament that it’s quite hard to break through and that commoners are exploited to keep it going and maintain the privileged


As Boot notes, there are lists that show which countries are best in certain things. If you’re looking to be convinced, that’s a better source than a random comment made in another context.

“difficult place to be a commoner if you have ideas above your station, education system is very poor; Housing opportunity is also poor; strong class system; no encouragement for ‘commoners’ to get educated, get professional jobs; now we’re not in the EU and not covered by their regulations; age limit for the state pension is going up and up; government are planning on taking away workers rights”
Thanks for that summary of why the UK is not likely to be the best place to live if you are common, ordinary folk. I’d add:
air pollution, water pollution, free market profiteering where shared ownership should exist, preference & privilege given to the wealthy, broken/expensive care system.
Shame because otherwise the UK can be a great place.

Well, that lets me out of the reckoning…

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I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. My ancestors go back to at least the 1400s, I’ve managed to trace them during my genealogical research, so they must have felt the same as me because I don’t have any family living in other countries.
I left school at 15 and went straight into factory work - living in a working class family that was expected of me. I wanted a better life for myself and my sons after I was divorced so went back into education and gained several O’ and A’ levels followed by a BA hons. and then a PGCE. I had a fulfilling career teaching in secondary education. I climbed the ladder and when I retired was Head of English. Life was very hard when I was studying - very little money because I was a one-parent family. (No food banks in those days but even if there were I wouldn’t have used them - I was brought up to stand on my own two feet and that has always stood me in good stead). So, my point is that there are opportunities in this country if you are prepared to look for them and work hard - my life is a case in point and I am sure there are many others on here who could say the same.
It irritates me when folks criticise my country from afar - I know it isn’t perfect but there again where is?


I can say the some thing but from Scotland. I don’t live there now - I’ve travelled the world - but it will always be home for me.


I did not start this thread with the idea that people need to up sticks and move. It was simply to wonder if there are places where ordinary people are well served and not crushed by cost of living. I wondered what experiences or insights others have had from around the world.
Nor was this meant as a slagging off for the UK - although these days that does seem very easy to do. It was more me being interested in what happens in other places where ordinary folk seem to be happier and seem to have a better quality of life. Because for sure, the quality of life for many in the UK is pretty poor. And not getting better. So perhaps there are things we can learn from other places and not see criticism of the state of affairs in the UK as positive and not just annoying?