Moving to Bristol
Bristol has an air of cool about it. Positioned on the River Avon, home of a top Red Brick university, a cultural hub and the second most populated city in Southern England, yet somehow it doesn’t shout as loud as other British cities outside of London. Bristol is too busy marching to the beat of its own drum to worry about that sort of thing.
The nation’s most loveable plasticine pals, Wallace and Gromit, were born in Bristol (the Aardman Studios are based here) and there’s plenty of ‘creature comforts’ here to make new arrivals from London feel at home in this engaging city.
There’s a few key areas of industry that are booming in Bristol, enough to be a pull from the capital city for some. Aerospace is firmly established in Bristol’s job market. Concorde made its maiden flight in 1969 and came home to land for the final time in 2003 at Filton, in the north of city, an area that now has the headquarters for BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Airbus.
A more recent development is the influx of tech companies to the area, the numbers speak for themselves here. A report conducted by Tech City UK last year shows that the Bristol & Bath tech cluster has a total digital turnover of over £8 billion, and it’s the most productive cluster in the country. For Londoners with specialisms in this area, a move from the Silicon Roundabout to the Silicon Gorge can be tempting, especially when you take into account housing and cost of living, along with the growing tech sector.
Cost of living
Even though house prices in Bristol last year rose far more than in London, the gulf between average prices is still so wide, that Londoners selling up to move west will most likely be able to swap a two-bed flat for a family home, with money to spare. Renters will also be pleasantly surprised at the sort of upgrade they can find in Bristol – on average, a 1 bed flat has the same monthly price as just a room in a shared property in London.
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Things to do in Bristol
It’s hard to know just where to begin when it comes to enjoying your leisure time in Bristol. Shopping and eating out are well and truly covered, whatever your style or budget. Bright and airy Cabot Circus shopping centre is less than ten years old. It sits in prime position in the city centre and has everything you’d expect from a new shopping mall, with over 120 shops and later opening hours handy for the city’s working population.
If you’re looking to get to know more about Bristol’s famous independent character, then Gloucester Road, north of the city centre is a great place to start. Wander up the UK’s longest strip of independently owned shops and see what a friendly, eclectic bunch Bristolians are! If you become a regular shopper in these parts, you could even invest in some Bristol Pounds, an initiative set up to help promote and support independent businesses. Back in the centre, you can’t miss a visit to St Nick’s Market, a beautiful covered arcade with local produce, arts and crafts, street food and cafes to keep you busy for many a weekend.
Culture and history
Bristol’s arts and culture scene will fulfill everyone from curious newbies and eager families to knowledgeable culture vultures. The Theatre Royal, home of the Bristol Old Vic is the oldest continuous working theatre in the country. The contemporary programme keeps it looking forward, while the regular nods to Shakespeare show reverence to its past. The City Museum and Art Gallery has a wide range of collections that will spark many interests and the newest addition to the city, M Shed is a fascinating and accessible place for adults and kids alike to learn about Bristol’s history and people. Contemporary art can be found at the Arnolfini, and if the exhibits themselves aren’t for you, just enjoy the gallery’s pretty harbourside position.
Street art is ever present in Bristol and you’ll enjoy stalking the streets for Banksy’s iconic works, but any local in the know will tell you there’s plenty of other graffiti artists as well as the main man of mystery that are worth checking out, either on a guided tour or solo expedition.
If live music is what you’re after, there are <href=”#venues”>venues all over the city. But first, be sure to get acquainted with the vast musical back catalogue this city has produced. If you’re not familiar with the Bristol Sound, get your education with Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack, then move on to the birth of drum and bass from the likes of Roni Size.
Football and rugby aren’t such a linchpin of Bristol as in other UK cities, but the teams are well established and new spectators are always welcomed. Cricket could be seen as a bigger draw, with the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club based in the city, and you can even catch one-day international matches in the summer.
University populations keep cities young and lively, and University of Bristolin the heart of the city is no exception. It’s highly regarded for research and teaching. This area has more private schools than any other outside of London, but you don’t need to worry about your household budget, as you’ll find some of the best state schools here too.
If you head towards the towering spires of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, you will find the best of Bristol’s open air and green space. The woodland nature reserve of Leigh Woods meets the estate of Ashton Court, where you can explore its rolling grounds on foot, by bike or on horseback. It’s also the venue of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, a magical week in summer where the skies are full of hot air balloons and the grounds are bustling with visitors.
Bristol may have its head in the clouds, but it’s wearing some cool shades, and you’ll realise very quickly, it’s one of the best places to be.