Where to live if you want to reach 100: Full map revealed as number of centenarians soars

21 September 2023, 11:38

Many of the places with the most centenarians are on the south coast
Many of the places with the most centenarians are on the south coast. Picture: ONS

By Kit Heren

A long life is often put down to clean living and exercise - but could the place where you live also play a part?

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Stats chiefs have released a map of local authorities with the highest share of people who live to 100 among their population.

Areas with the most centenarians tended to be on the south coast, while several London boroughs were among the areas with the least, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of people living to 100 has grown along with overall life expectancy, as the general health of the population increased in the 20th century.

Some 13,924 centenarians were living in England and Wales at the time of the 2021 census, a 24.5% increase from 2011. There were just 110 people aged 100 or over living in the UK in 1921.

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The ONS released a map of the proportions of centenarians in local authorities
The ONS released a map of the proportions of centenarians in local authorities. Picture: ONS

Most centenarians are women, mirroring overall life expectancy trends in the UK. Some 11,288 of the people over 100 in England and Wales were female in 2021 and 2,636 were male.

The oldest person was 112 in 2021, but over 90% were aged between 100 and 103. These people vastly outlived their life expectancy at birth, which in 1921 was nearly 68 for women and just over 61 for men.

By contrast, life expectancy for babies born in 2021 is over 90 for women and more than 87 for men. For girls born in 2021, there is a 19.6% chance they will live to 100. Some 14.1% of boys born in the same year are expected to reach their century.

Areas with the most centenarians per 100,000 people

  • East Devon 64
  • Arun 59
  • New Forest 57
  • Waverley 53
  • Rother 52
  • Somerset West and Taunton 48
  • North Norfolk 47
  • Dorset 46
  • Folkestone and Hythe 45
  • Fylde 45

Areas with the least centenarians per 100,000 people

  • Lewisham 10
  • Waltham Forest 10
  • Crawley 9
  • Knowsley 9
  • Islington 9
  • Lambeth 9
  • Hackney 8
  • Tower Hamlets 6
  • Newham 5
  • Isles of Scilly 0
Lauretta Boston turned 100 in 2022
Lauretta Boston turned 100 in 2022. Picture: ONS

Londoner Lauretta Boston turned 100 in 2022. She said: "You never think you’re going to reach that age. Even a few months before, I was wondering if I was going to reach 100 because there is always something that goes wrong health-wise.

She claimed that "working class people actually ate better" when she was growing up than today.

"We had no fridges, so the food was fresh every day. We would get fish from the market. A woman a few doors down had a little horse and cart, and she got fruit and vegetables from Covent Garden and sold it fresh."

She can remember events like watching gas lights being lit in the streets and celebrating Empire Day with little flags at school.

She added: "Watching the Oxford-Cambridge boat race on a television in a shop window when no one had a television at home, and going to the Post Office to make a phone call in a cubicle through an operator.

"After the war, there were clothes coupons, because clothing was still rationed. I saw people wounded during the war on the street selling matches and they maybe had just one arm or a crutch under the arm and just one leg.

"They weren't allowed to beg, but in actual fact people put the money on the tray but didn't take the matches."

She said she lives alone but never get lonely.

"I never seem to have enough time, because everything is a big effort and I'm so slow. It takes me time to do everything, so the days seem short. I also have my music and my family and friends.

"My sister is 94 and I have had friends who also lived a long time. Two of them lived to 90 and one to 102, but unfortunately they have passed on. That's what happens.

"Friends I have made more recently don't know me as well as friends I knew when I was young. They can be very good friends but can only really see you as you are now."