Basildon is a large town near the Essex coast, best known as the birthplace of ’80s pop band Depeche Mode. A new town combining four former villages, Basildon was designated in 1946 and is home to over 107,100 people.
As it’s well-connected to London and other regions, Basildon attracts many people to live and work there. It’s a quiet town, popular with commuters who live in Basildon and work in London.
Is Basildon a good place to live? Although some find Basildon perhaps a little bland and lacking in stimulation, it’s reasonably safe and offers a good quality of life. It’s in a good location and offers easy access to London, Southend and the Essex coast.
Whether you’ve recently been offered a job in Basildon or are simply considering it as a potential base in the UK, you probably have several questions about the area. Is Basildon a good place to buy a house? Is it a good place to retire? What are the schools like? What is the employment situation? Read on to find out more about Basildon.
Is Basildon a good place to live?
Basildon is not known as a hotbed of culture or entertainment but it does have its good points. The town and the surrounding borough have undergone extensive regeneration over the years, with large shopping and leisure developments as well as wildlife habitats outside of town. Overall, Basildon is a pleasant and comfortable place to live.
More desirable neighborhoods include Canvey Island; although technically slightly outside Basildon, is generally considered one of the town’s more affluent areas. Langdon Hills and Laindon, with their extensive green spaces, are also very desirable. Less desirable neighbourhoods include Fryerns and parts of Pitsea.
The town of Basildon is quiet and safe with a relatively low crime rate. Even in less desirable neighbourhoods, you can live quite safely with little risk that you’ll be a victim of crime.
The town has a number of secondary schools, catering for a wide range of subjects and generally offering a high quality education. There are two FE colleges: South Essex College, which offers a range of subjects, and PROCAT which specialises in engineering and construction subjects. Basildon does not have a university but is located within easy reach of the University of Essex.
There are two main roads out of Basildon. The road to the North connects the town with London and the road to the south connects to Southend. There are three rail stations in Basildon, all on the London, Tilbury and Southend line. London is a short commute, making Basildon an attractive place to settle for those who want to avoid the problems inherent in living in a big city.
It’s possible to enjoy a fairly active social life in Basildon. Younger people tend to congregate around the town’s large shopping precincts and the Festival Leisure Park, which offers bowling and other entertainments; these include 15 popular restaurants, amusement arcades and a multi-screen cinema complex. There is also a major theatre (the Towngate Theatre). The town also hosts various cultural events.
Is Basildon a good place to work?
Basildon was heavily industrialised during its development and remains an area of fairly high employment.
The average wage is quite low (a little £23,700), although this is down to a preponderance of lower-paid work in the area and doesn’t reflect a lack of opportunity for well-paid careers.
Key sectors for employment include financial services and manufacturing, particularly automotive manufacturing. Major employers include the Ford motor company, which has operated out of Basildon since 1964. Other big employers are the First Data Corporation, Olympus KeyMed and various branches of local government. The recent opening of Costa Coffee’s Paradise Street coffee roastery increased the range of jobs on offer.
Basildon’s unemployment rate is in line with national averages, with plenty of entry-level positions (chiefly in manufacturing, education and local government). It’s very easy to find a job in the area, particularly if you’re a well-qualified candidate with good skills and experience.
Families with children of school-leaving age might be particularly interested to know that Basildon Council is one of the best employers for school leavers. They’re noted for offering attractive wages and benefits, a good career path and a decent work-life balance for their younger employees.
Is Basildon a good place to buy a house?
Basildon has fairly high property prices; the average price for a home in Basildon is just under £300,000 (including flats and studio apartments), significantly more than the national average.
Houses and flats are in demand thanks to a solid employment rate and lots of commuters choosing to live in the area. This makes property in Basildon a little more expensive than elsewhere in the UK but also means that the value of property there is likely to remain steady or increase.
As you’d expect, more affluent areas have higher house prices than less affluent areas. The variation within Basildon is not as significant as in larger conurbations but you can still find some bargains if you’re prepared to be flexible about location.
On average, you can expect to pay around £166,000 for a single-bedroom house, £304,000 for a three-bedroomed property and £533,000 for a five-bedroomed house.
Flats are somewhat cheaper, as you’d expect; but one-bedroom flats are scarce, meaning that it’s sometimes equally cost-effective for single homeowners to opt for a two-bedroom property.
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Rents are quite high, in line with property prices in general. The average monthly rent is a little over £1,000. You can find a few one-bedroom houses for rent, around £625, but they are rather scarce. A three-bedroomed house rents for around £1,150 while a five-bedroomed house rents for just over £2,700 on average.
Flats are a little cheaper but savings are not that great — it’s well worth looking at houses instead, even if you wouldn’t normally have considered the option. The additional space and comfort might be worth the modest price difference, especially if you’re looking for a family home.
Is Basildon a good place to retire?
Although it’s largely an industrial and commuter town, Basildon is a favourable place for retirees to create a home base. This is partly due to the town’s location — it’s ideal if you want the convenience of a town but still enjoy access to the countryside. The Kent coast is a great spot to enjoy country strolls or more ambitious hikes. Basildon offers plenty to do and has good amenities, as well as a solid transport network that makes it easy to get around.
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There are a significant number of retirement properties up for sale, from purpose-built flats to more standard dwellings that are offered at a lower price for over-55s or over-60s. Prices vary significantly by location and the kind of facility you’re looking at.
Prices tend to be fairly high but you can find one-bedroom or two-bedroom retirement homes for as little as £125,000. A three-bedroom retirement property — typically a bungalow, although there are also some very nice maisonettes — will cost around £225,000. Larger properties of four or five bedrooms are scarce and don’t appear in listings often; however, you can find five-bedroom properties that would be suitable for retirement for around £533,000.
Popular neighbourhoods for retirees include Canvey Island, with its quiet village atmosphere, Langford Park and particularly Laindon. The Fryerns area is less desirable, as are some parts of the Pitsea area. Even here, however, you can find some nice properties.
Is Basildon a good place to visit?
While the town centre of Basildon itself might not be precisely inspiring, there are lots of green spaces that can well repay a visit. Accommodation ranges from budget hotel chains and self-catering establishments to more luxurious lodgings in a former stately home.
If you’re interested in nature and enjoy outdoor activities, Basildon and its environs might be a good place for a short break. In particular, Basildon Park is a popular attraction. This extensive landscaped park and gardens surrounds a Georgian stately home, rescued from demolition by the National Trust and now lovingly restored to its former glory.
Nature-lovers also come to Basildon for the nearby wetlands with their amazing variety of wild bird species. The Vange and Fobbing marshes to the south are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with Vange marsh being managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Wat Tyler Country Park is another notable nature reserve in the area. Named after the leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, Wat Tyler Country Park includes a miniature railway and a visitor centre run by the RSPB.
Basildon itself is a new town and its history is fairly brief. That being said, there are still interesting features inherited from the four villages that were incorporated into the town. Those with an interest in 20th century history might want to visit the Haven Plotlands Museum on the Langdon Nature Reserve, which commemorates the rural plots of land settled by displaced Londoners during and after the Second World War.