Essex has a bit of a reputation. Switch on the television or pick up a glossy magazine and you might be forgiven for thinking that the county is home to fake tans and wide boys, with nothing better to do than get their teeth whitened and look for the next best EasyJet deal from Southend Airport – TOWIE is largely responsible for this stereotype.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Dig deeper and you’ll find Essex has a rich heritage, beautiful locations and lots to offer. This county is the UK’s best-kept secret and is jam-packed with reasons why it’s a much better place to live than London. Read on to find out why.
There’s a reason why television show The Only Way Is Essex got commissioned. Say what you like about the place, but what makes Essex great is its people. Friendly, funny, hard working and loyal, Essex has more entrepreneurs per square mile than anywhere else in the country.
Many of its residents have an East-End heritage, where family values, honesty and good fun are all part of their inherent makeup.
Essex boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. The County Council owns eight of them and a heritage site, so unlike London, wherever you are in the county, there will be a green space very close to you.
Whether you’re into dog-walking, horse riding or rambling, you wont be disappointed with what Essex has to offer.
The educational establishments in Essex offer some of the best learning experiences for students in the country. The Local Education Authority operates with two councils in Essex, Essex County Council and Southend Council. There are four fully selective grammar schools in Southend alone.
Education in Essex is so good, that a family from Dubai planned to relocate to Essex if their child got into one of the county’s grammar schools! Essex also boasts many excellent independent schools, including the extravagant Newhall, which is built on the grounds of one of Henry VIII’s old palaces.
As a coastal county, there are several blue flag beaches for you to enjoy your weekend with an ice cream and a paddle in the sea.
Frinton-on-Sea has a popular sandy beach where you can take part in activities such as sailing and windsurfing.
A little further along the coast is Clacton Beach, which is child friendly and offers lots of traditional seaside entertainment fun. There is also a Victorian pier, with eateries and amusements.
Needless to say, Essex’s beaches are an attraction London certainly cannot compete with!
Essex is home to many historic towns and villages. The oldest town in the UK is Colchester, and this is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
Picturesque villages in the county include lively Newport, with a history spanning back more than 250,000 years. It is located in Saffron Waldon and boasts a museum and miniature railway station.
As well as quaint villages, you might want to visit something with a little more grandeur at one of Essex’s stately homes. Audley End and Hedingham are two of the most popular attractions.
Headingham Castle, near Braintree, is a popular wedding destination, due to its imposing nature, opulent Banquet Hall and Minstrels’ Gallery. The Castle has been visited by King Henry VII, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Descendants from the original residents, the well-established De Vere family, still live there to this day. They also host annual jousts.
There’s no question about it, the housing is much cheaper in this county. For the same price as a Docklands style flat, which could set you back well over a million pounds, you would be able to purchase a five-bedroom mansion in enviable Ingatestone. The commute to London would be less than half an hour.
One or two bedroom flats in the area are also affordable. A one bedroom flat in commuter town, Wickford, would set you back £150,000, which is completely realistic for someone in their twenties to afford to buy.
Essex really is the UK’s best-kept value property secret!
Excellent Commuter Links
One of the main reasons people move to Essex is the excellent commuter links the county offers. From direct trains to London, to a wide network of arterial roads, leading you to the City and further afield, getting around the county couldn’t be easier.
Even villages such as North Fambridge and Marks Tey offer rail links to London, which can get you there in under an hour.
Who needs Oxford Street? If you like spending your hard-earned cash, then Essex offers you no shortage of shops and designer villages. From indoor shopping malls, Lakeside and Eastgate, which offer high street names as well as a host of eating establishments, to Freeport in Braintree, a designer village showcasing some great bargains on Hollister, Ted Baker and Gap clothing, there really is something for everyone.
Accolades and Honourable Mentions
Essex businesses, towns and schools often score very highly in national polls and feature articles. Here are two recent accolades the county can boast:
UK’s Most Punctual Train Company 2015:
The train line, C2C (City to Coast) is the UK’s most punctual train company. It services the route between Shoeburyness and Fenchurch Street and has a 96.9% punctuality rate, placing the company at the premier position for punctual trains in the UK.
Best Place to Live in UK 2015
The Times crowned fishing town, Leigh on Sea, as the fourth best place to live in the UK. With a thriving Broadway, featuring many independent shops, the town also hosts a popular folk festival and has a strong creative community. It’s also serviced by C2C train line and is around a forty minute commute to the City. Leigh on Sea hosts an annual folk festival.
Moving from London
Moving home is always stressful, whether you’re upgrading from a flat to a house, or downsizing from the family home to a bungalow, there is always a long list of must-do things
The first thing you should do is pack smartly. This means labelling your boxes with room locations, such as ‘Bedroom 1’ and ‘Kitchen’, so your movers know where to put them.
Don’t forget to get you post redirected to your new home too. A three-month redirection service from Royal Mail costs £30 for three months and will be solid peace of mind that you wont miss any important letters.
It’s also important to inform your utilities company with your final readings, so they can issue you with you last statement.
Finally, make things easy for your buyers by leaving them a friendly note informing them of your utility providers (if you haven’t already on your solicitor’s documents). You could also provide information about when your rubbish is collected and where the stopcock is.
Don’t be afraid to call in for help from friends and family on the big day either. With the right planning (and maybe a few beers and a takeaway for the tired workers), you’ll be in your new home in no time.
Welcome to Essex!