There’s really only one thing that first comes to mind when you mention ‘Essex’ - unfair as it may be - and that is of course the reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex.
But this English county is so much more than Essex girls and boys doing their utmost to make you question all that is good in the world.
Despite bordering the east of London, Essex is in fact remarkably rural, with a large number of quaint English villages, charming country pubs, and mile upon mile of stunning coastline.
There’s real diversity here too; modern urban developments blend with the rustic and traditional to offer the best of both worlds. It’s little wonder the towns in Essex are so popular with commuters.
And cost of living isn’t nearly as high as some of the other Home Counties. Average house prices are lower than the likes of Surrey, but residents can still enjoy the luscious green space and close proximity to London.
With so much to see and do here, it’s perfect for young families and young professionals alike. So if you’re planning on moving to Essex, here are a few of our favourite places.
Location, Location, Location
Thanks to its close ties with London, Essex is an incredibly well-connected county. The Tube covers a large area, with the Central Line reaching as far as Epping, while National Rail services are available throughout the county, keeping London within a very reasonable commute time.
If you’ve got a car, there’s easy access to the M25, and if you’re looking to travel further afield, both London Southend Airport and Stansted International Airport are within a half-hour drive.
The County Town
If you travel just thirty miles east of London, you’ll find the County Town of Essex, the city of Chelmsford. With its very reasonable half-hour commute into the City, not to mention the good schools and beautiful surrounding countryside, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with professionals and those with young families.
Speaking of which, there are two very highly thought of grammar schools here: the King Edward VI Grammar School, and the Chelmsford County High School for Girls. Be forewarned, these are highly selective schools, with only one in ten children getting through the very tough entrance exams. However, they are among the top-performing state schools in the UK.
What with Chelmsford being a city, there are amenities galore. Two excellent shopping centres and a high street have you covered when it comes to the big names, while there are many independent shops and an indoor market if it all starts to feel a little too similar.
And when a lazy Sunday afternoon rolls around, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a whole host of top restaurants and gastropubs within the vicinity.
The Seaside Town
It may have lost its shine when cheap package holidays to Spain kicked in, but Southend-on-Sea is bouncing back. Once a favourite with East-enders escaping the city for a day at the beach, new life is being breathed into this Essex seaside town.
Thanks to a recent influx of commuters from London, house prices have began to rise, and regeneration plans will see a whole host of upgrades along the seafront, with a £50m investment in the offing.
Speaking of which, Southend’s seaside boasts the longest pleasure pier in the world (measuring in at 1.34 miles) and it is likely to recapture some of its glorious past when the redevelopment - including 10 restaurants, a cinema, and a leisure centre - is complete.
Where families are concerned, the Southend High School for Boys and Southend High School for Girls are almost always among the top 100 best performing schools in the country and were both recently rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Thinking of moving to Essex? Check out Chelmsford or Belper.
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