Moving to Essex

Essex’s reputation has been somewhat driven in recent years by the hit UK TV program, The only way is Essex. However, there’s much more to Essex than fake tan and high heels. Once home to England’s capital, Essex is awash with history, culture and picturesque landscapes.

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Chelmsford is Essex’s only city and is the county town of Essex.  It’s situated in the London commuter belt and is only 30 minutes by train from London’s Liverpool Street station, making it a great city to live in while working in London. There are also plenty of job opportunities in the city itself.

Chelmsford has some great schools, with Chelmsford County High School for Girls frequently appearing in the top achievers’ list, together with King Edward’s Grammar and the Boswells.  With its good schools and short commuter time, it’s a great place for families.  Lots of family quality time is guaranteed and the city is known for its close-knit families and friendships.

In the Halifax’s annual Quality of Life Survey, Chelmsford came 10th of a total of 405 local authorities around the UK. According to the survey, homes in Chelmsford are generally larger and more luxurious than the national average.  It also has a good selection of shops, pubs and restaurants and is great for most sporting activities.


Colchester has a long and rich history, going back to Roman times.  It is a town which is often described as the cultural capital of Essex.  It combines old world charm with modern shopping and amenities.  It is renowned for its award-winning sites and eateries.  It sits on the edge of East Anglia and is only a few minutes from the sea.

Colchester is the perfect place to raise children with its reputation for excellent schools and the University of Essex on the doorstep.  It’s a 55-60-minute commute to London’s Liverpool Street, so working in London is not a problem.  However, there are job opportunities in Colchester and Chichester is only 25 minutes away by train.

It’s other claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of three favourite nursery rhymes – ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and ‘Old King Cole’.


In 2015 Basildon was voted the most affordable commuter town because of its cheaper housing and rail season tickets.  It’s only 35 minutes to Fenchurch Street by train.

Basildon is undergoing a regeneration project which will improve all its facilities – shops, schools, recreation and parks – and encourage businesses to open up in the area.

The building of Basildon began in 1948 to house the overspill from London

and those who had been bombed out during the Second World War.

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According to a money comparison site, Harlow is one of the best towns to live in for London commuters.  House prices are reasonable, travel costs are relatively low and travel time is short, taking a mere 32 minutes.

Like Basildon, Harlow is undergoing a regeneration project and has a selection of shops, a sports centre, parks and schools.  There are job opportunities within Harlow and, as stated, London is only 32 minutes away.

Although Harlow is classed as a new town, it began its history back in the third century, when a Roman fort or settlement was situated in the area.


Clacton-on-Sea is a great place to retire to but it isn’t suited to young families. Employment is mainly in the service industry and is seasonal.  London is 90 minutes away by train, so Clacton is not an ideal choice for commuting.

However, for retirement and day trips it has many attractions. Clacton began life in 1871 and was built as an upmarket seaside town.  The main access initially was by sea and steam ships used to dock at what is now the pier.  Billy Butlin opened one of his first holiday camps in Clacton but sadly closed it in 1983.


Braintree and its surrounds have grown in the last few years and offer a wide variety of homes. It’s a 65-minute commute to London so most people who live in Braintree work in the area. The unemployment rate falls within the national average. There are many schools in the area which serve the local community.

Braintree has shopping centres and sports centres to suit most people’s tastes.  It also has some lovely parks which were laid out in the nineteenth century.

Braintree has a long history going back 4000 years.  During Roman times, the town became the focal point at the intersection of two Roman roads.  During the Great Plague of 1665, Braintree lost over a third of its population to this awful disease.


Loughton is an ideal town to commute from.  It’s only 26 minutes from Liverpool Street station in London, making it the perfect place to enjoy life outside the city while working in it.  Loughton is on the edge of Epping Forest with all it has to offer but it’s also easy to nip into London for the evening and take in a show and dinner.

Loughton has some excellent schools and is the ideal place to bring up a family.  It has a good range of houses to buy and rent, although rented properties aren’t as numerous as purchased properties.  There is employment in Loughton but most people who move here tend to work in London.  Loughton has a good variety of shops, restaurants and sport facilities.

Crime fiction writer, Ruth Rendell, was born in Loughton and her last book, The Girl Next Door, was set in Loughton.

Uttlesford and Saffron Walden

Uttlesford came second out of 405 local authorities areas which were graded by the Halifax according to the best place to live.  It has some of the most expensive and grandiose houses in the country and an exceptionally low unemployment rate.

Stanstead Airport is situated in Uttlesford which gives it easy access to cities around Europe.

Uttlesford proudly boasts of having over 3,500 listed buildings, which is almost a third of all the listed buildings in Essex.  It’s main town is Saffron Walden which is 55 minutes from Liverpool Street Station, London, making it very commutable. Saffron Walden is a lovely mediaeval market town which has good schools, sports facilities and shops.

Bridge End Gardens in Saffron Walden are a series of 7 nineteenth century gardens which have been lovingly restored and everyone, children and adults alike will love the maze.