Average family values

Article date: 4 June 2008

  • National study provides unique insights into British home life in 2008

In a fast moving world it's comforting to know that some things still stay the same - a  study of 10 years' worth of data* from the UK's largest insurer reveals that the average British home is still very average.

The most common surname is still "Smith" the most common house name is the very traditional "The Cottage". The average person lives within one hour of their closest family member and real life, thankfully, still beats virtual life with personal photos rated as the most prized possessions above computers and game consoles.

Who are Mr and Mrs Average?
The Norwich Union data reveals that Mr and Mrs Average are:  

  • Called Mr and Mrs Smith
  • Live at The Cottage on the High Street
  • In a three bedroom detached house, built around 1946
  • Drive a Ford Fiesta
  • Holiday in Spain
  • Are Non smokers.

Living next door to Mr and Mrs Average
The Smiths in The Cottage are likely to be found chatting over the garden fence with their neighbours Mr and Mrs Jones at Rose Cottage or Mr and Mrs Williams at The Bungalow. 

Norwich Union's top five British house names and surnames


House name

Postcode area most commonly found


The Cottage



Rose Cottage



The Bungalow



The Coach House



The Lodge



  1. Smith
  2. Jones
  3. Williams
  4. Brown
  5. Taylor

At home with Mr and Mrs Average
Mr and Mrs Smith are likely to live in a three bedroom detached house, built around 1946 with a floor size of 109m2. The footnall pitch at Wembley Stadium could accommodate 65 average British houses. 

When in their homes, Mr and Mrs Smith can be found watching their television, or playing their computer or games console. The top five items** that were ruined, damaged, or stolen in 2007 were:

  • 1. Hitachi Television
  • 2. Sandisk Camera Memory Card
  • 3. Toshiba Laptop
  • 4. Sony Playstation
  • 5. Microsoft Xbox 360

Insuring Mr and Mrs Average
Norwich Union data reveals that the Smiths will, on average, make a household claim every seven years. This includes everything from accidental damage to fire, theft or flood. Interestingly, Mrs Smith is likely to make slightly more claims in her lifetime than Mr Smith. They value their household personal possessions - including their furnishings, clothes, mementos and belongings - at around £27,000.

The lifestyle of Mr and Mrs Average
Additional research with over 2000 adults*** also reveals that - excluding time spent sleeping - Mr and Mrs Smith spend just over three hours (3.15 hours) at home on a normal weekday. This means that Mr and Mrs Smith spend over a third of the year (133 days) out at work, down the gym or possibly in the pub. Those living in the East Midlands spend the least amount of time at home (2.54 hours) while perhaps surprisingly, Londoners spend the most time at home (3.35 hours).

36% of sentimental Brits consider their photographs to be their most prized possessions. However, the figures reveal that men are more likely to cherish their computer or games console (27%) over photographs (21%) of their family and friends. 

Top five most prized possessions               






Photographs (36%)

21 %

50 %


Computer or games console (20%)




Audio and video equipment (7%)




Jewellery (5%)




Record Collection (4%)





The family of Mr and Mrs Average
Mr and Mrs Smith live less than one hour's drive (47 mins) from the nearest close member of their family.

The North-South divide still exists in terms of average family values. The Northern Mr and Mrs Smith are more likely to live nearer to their close family members than their Mr and Mrs Smith Southern counterparts.

Living nearest to close family:

  • North East (34 mins)
  • Yorkshire (36 mins)
  • North West (37 mins)

Living furthest from their close family:

  • Wales (64 mins)
  • London (64 mins)
  • South West (61 mins)

Simon Warsop, head of home at Norwich Union, says: "Our study provides a fascinating glimpse into the average British home in 2008. Contrary to popular belief, it reveals that we are a lot more traditional than we think we are. We are still enjoying holidays in Spain, we still live pretty close to our family and, yes, those wedding and baby pictures are still pride of place in our homes.

"But of course the tell-tale signs of modern life are creeping into even the most traditional households - the Xbox is up there with the television, computer and games consoles beat the prized record collection and we're spending nearly 13 hours a day away from our home - either at work or enjoying a new found leisure time.

"As an insurer, we are always looking at ways to ensure that our policies match the needs of our customers.  We will be reviewing the data annually to make sure that we adapt our products to reflect any lifestyle and social changes."


Press office contacts:

Sophie Lam
Lexis PR
020 7908 6482 or slam@lexispr.com

Emilie Lien
Lexis PR
020 7908 6421 or elien@lexispr.com

Rebecca Holmes
Norwich Union press office
01603 685177 / 07800 690731

Notes to editors:

*Norwich Union data from 1997 - 2007

** Top five electrical items replaced by Norwich Union after household claims in 2007.

*** Research was conducted by YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,080 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 and 24 May 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers.  FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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