SOME civil servants may be apprehensive about moving 248 miles up north to Darlington, a North-East town they may not have heard of. 

People have different priorities when moving, like quality of life, good schools and even internet speeds, not to mention the cost of living and average income. 

Darlington is a bustling market town and borough with a population of 106,800, with an iconic clocktower at its heart. It is a great place with a rich history, here is everything you need to know:

Where is Darlington?

Part of the ceremonial county of County Durham, the borough of Darlington sits south of Durham, west of Teesside and north of North Yorkshire.

Darlington lies on the River Skerne, a tributary of the River Tees.

With the Yorkshire Dales to the west and gorgeous coastal spots to the east, in Darlington you are never far away from gorgeous scenery.

Benefitting from the East Coast Main Line, you can get to Durham city via train in 15 minutes and Newcastle in half an hour. 

For visiting friends and family down south, civil servants eager to get back to the capital can get there in under three hours. 

The town is also a 25-minute drive from Barnard Castle, if any government staffers need an eye test. 

What is Darlington known for?

Darlington is the home of the railways, with the first-ever passenger railway between Darlington and Stockton.

Powerful Quaker families such as the Pease and Backhouse families were big employers and philanthropists during the Victorian era. The town's most famous clock tower was gifted by the industrialist Joseph Pease in 1864. 

In 1939, Darlington had the most cinema seats per head of population in the United Kingdom.

The Durham Ox, a cow that became famous in the early 19th century for its shape, size and weight, also came from Darlington.

More recently, Darlington was the first town in England to allow same-sex civil ceremonies in 2001.

There are also many famous faces who once called Darlington home, including comedian Vic Reeves, musician Michael Lee and singer and entertainer Julie Rayne.

What is there to do in Darlington?

While many of the area's attractions are closed due to Covid restrictions, Darlington has a lot to offer in terms of arts, culture, nightlife and the great outdoors. 

Leasure centre The Dolphin Centre has slides, a soft play, large pool, gym and indoor sports while people who prefer outdoor activities can enjoy walks around historic sites like Raby Castle and its estate.

If local nature reserves are not your jam, the Head of Steam is a railway museum that showcases Darlington's history as the birthplace of the modern railway.

With three theatres - the Darlington Hippodrome, The Majestic Theatre and Theatre Hullabaloo - there's also sure to be something for every type of arts lover.

Many great comedians, musicians and shows will be found on stage in Darlington, which also has a thriving local music circuit.

Darlington boasts a range of local traders and national chains. Its indoor market has just about everything you need from independent traders, while shopping centres like the Cornmill Shopping Centre, Queen Street Shopping Centre and Morton Park have big-name retailers. 

How much is it to buy a house in the borough?

According to property site Zoopla, the average price paid in Darlington over the last 12 months is £163,246, with 788 homes being sold, and the current average value £161,235.

House prices, of course, differ substantially across the borough.

How long do people live?

In Darlington, men are expected to live for 78.7 years, and women for 82.3 years.

The most recent figures (from the years 2017 to 2019) were released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in October 2020 and show the expected life expectancy from birth.

The average life expectancy at birth for men in the North-East is 77.9 and for women is 81.6, meaning people in Darlington tend to live longer than the regional average. 

Darlington's average income and employment rates 

While civil servants relocating up north will know how much they are taking home each month, those uprooting family and partners will be keen to know what the region's job market is like.

According to job-hunting site Adzuna, the average Darlington salary is £32,173. Salaries in Darlington have gone up 14.7 per cent year-on-year while the national annual change is 8.4 per cent.

Currently, the site has 926 live job ads in Darlington, out of 812,984 jobs nationally. The top companies hiring in Darlington are Wood, KPIT Cummins Infosystems and Amec Foster Wheeler.

Most live ads across the borough are for healthcare and nursing jobs and trade and construction.

The latest Employment and unemployment data, from October 2019 to September 2020, shows 78.9 per cent of residents are 'economically active, meaning they are employed or self-employed, which is above the regional average of 76.3 per cent and just slightly below the UK average of 97 per cent. 

Schools and education in Darlington

Like most towns, there is a wealth of primary schools and some great secondary schools. 

Older teenagers can study a range of A levels in Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form, with other colleges in the Tees Valley and Darlington if students don't mind travelling. 

The town is also home to Teesside University.