CITY WITH ‘NO CHARACTER’ NAMED ONE OF THE BEST VALUE COMMUTER SPOTS IN THE UK

Thinking of escaping London in favour of a cheaper existence? Essex could now be the place to be.

However, in spite of the relative peace and quiet away from the Big Smoke it offers, a town with ‘no character’ and ‘chain restaurants’ has been named one of the best value commuter spots in the UK.

Any guesses? That’s right: it’s the home county paradise that is Chelmsford. Described as an urban-suburban blend, it combines the hubbub of a city with a slower, rural vibe that makes it ideal for families.

To some, though, it’s not got the most going for it.

If it’s individuality you’re after, critics have suggested Chelmsford is anything but, claiming it’s a sea of ‘big chains’ on the high street and ‘Costa Coffee everywhere you look.’

‘The town is pretty much a copy and paste of every other UK town,’ @Wopa6969 wrote in one particularly scathing Reddit review.

‘It has some good pubs but the clubs are awful. If you’re after a more lively place I’d go closer to London but it is the next best thing after East London as Lakeside is not far and there are links to the A12 and A130.’

‘Good for shopping, education, transport links, mostly safe, leisure, loads of places to eat,’ @Greatgowler added. ‘Bad for high house prices, high street shops are almost all big chains, congested roads, Costa Coffee everywhere you look.’

Another savage appraisal suggested that the Essex city is ‘going downhill.’

‘If you like busy built-up areas, it’s great. Lots of restaurants, cafes and fast food places. But lots of vape shops and gadget repair stores,’ commented @TrumpIsRight100.

Chelmsford at a glance

  • Average house price: £385,000
  • Population: 110,606
  • Crime rate: 124 crimes per 1,000
  • Location: Chelmsford is the main county town of Essex, and is one of three cities next to Colchester and Southend-on-Sea. It’s a mere 30 miles north-east of London.
  • Commute into London: Trains take between 32 and 28 minutes, and arrive into London Liverpool Street, which is served by the Elizabeth, Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines, as well as the Overground.

Feelings are fairly mixed, but there must be a reason it’s now the most popular place for London leavers. So what is it that appeals about Chelmsford? And why has it been named one of the best value commuter destinations?

The research, compiled by City Search, noted that the average house price here is £385,000 – which, according to Gov UK, is noticeably cheaper than London’s average of £503,000.

If you’re looking to save your pennies on housing, then Essex clearly has appeal. And, if you do need to commute into London for work (or just fancy a jolly), then it’s only 40 minutes on the train into Liverpool Street. Easy peasy.

Elsewhere, if you’re looking to raise a family, the research also noted that the crime rate in Chelmsford is relatively low, at 124 incidents per 1,000.

There’s also the draw of a quieter existence: Chelmsford isn’t too far from the bliss of the Essex countryside, including the quaint villages of Galleywood, East Hanningfield and Great Waltham, characterised by pubs, duck ponds and churches.

For outdoorsy types, there are plenty of opportunities to chuck on your hiking boots and explore. For the best countryside walking routes, seek out the Boreham and River Chelmer Circular, Danbury and Woodham Walter or Paper Mill Lock – and prepare to familiarise yourself with the region’s nature in the process. Bird-watching, anyone?

A haven for history buffs and metal detectorists, Chelmsford served as a settlement as far back as the Neolithic period, with archeologists uncovering Roman ruins and an Anglo-Saxon burial site beneath it.

So, if you’re looking to move house in 2024, maybe don’t write off the appeal of Chelmsford. There’s more to Essex than Towie after all.

The best value commuter spots in the UK, according to City Search

  1. St Albans (described as quality for a price, median house price: £625,000)
  2. Guildford (countryside cultural hub, £475,000)
  3. Sevenoaks (natural and convenient, £610,000)
  4. Woking (affordable convenience, £475,000)
  5. Tunbridge Wells (spa town elegance, £465,000)
  6. Redhill (family-friendly affordability, £405,000)
  7. Hitchin (affordable market town, £420,000)
  8. Chelmsford (urban-suburban blend, £385,000)
  9. Reigate (scenic and accessible, £525,000)
  10. Amersham (countryside charm, £690,000)
  11. Maidenhead (riverside living, £480,000).

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