The city of Bath is named for its famous hot springs. Heated by geothermal energy, the water that bubbles up from underground is naturally warm and rich in minerals.
The Ancient Romans who settled in the area named it Aquae Sulis and constructed a lavish complex around the hot springs, with Thermae (baths), a temple and other structures that still survive to this day. Of course, the naturally heated thermal springs were in use by local tribespeople long before the Romans arrived. Today, the Roman Thermae complex is just one of the attractions to be found in the city.
As well as being deeply rooted in British history and steeped in culture, Bath is a thoroughly modern city with plenty to enjoy.
Is Bath a good place to live? Bath is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the UK and Europe as a whole. It has outstanding amenities, beautiful architecture and a convenient location between London. Businesses in Bath offer a fairly high average salary and good career opportunities at every level.
If you’re moving to the UK and examining your options, you may have questions about Bath.
Perhaps you’ve been offered a place at one of the two main universities. Maybe you’re considering a job offer from one of the major businesses operating in the city, or maybe you already work in London or Bristol and are searching for a suitable home base you can commute from.
Maybe you’re approaching retirement and thinking of moving to Bath to start the next chapter of your life. Whatever your situation, you’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about Bath.
- What are the house prices like?
- Are the schools suitable for your children?
- What kind of city is it and what can you see or do there?
Whatever your questions about life in Bath, we have answers. Read on to find out more about this fascinating city.
Is Bath a good place to live?
Bath really is an amazing place to live and work. Although it’s convenient for London and Bristol, Bath is not just another commuter town.
Crime levels in Bath are low, especially for a city. In terms of crime and safety, the city centre is the most “risky” — of course, this is true of most cities and Bath’s centre isn’t especially dangerous.
There are no especially bad neighbourhoods in Bath — residents often comment on how calm and quiet the city is at night. The county of Somerset as a whole is fairly affluent and the city of Bath is particularly well-off; it is not a city with areas of significant deprivation and there’s nowhere you should particularly avoid.
The neighbourhoods in the part of the city lying north of the river Avon are generally regarded as being the most desirable. If you’re considering moving to Bath, take a look at the neighbourhoods south of the river. They’re less expensive but still very appealing.
Bath has plenty of good primary schools, including schools that offer nursery classes (kindergarten) at the same establishment. This is great for those who want their younger children to attend the same school as their older siblings; it also gives children the stability of remaining at the same school after they outgrow nursery.
Secondary school education in Bath is of high quality. Bath operates a comprehensive system. There are plenty of good options, including Bath Technical College for students who want to take vocational or technical subjects at the sixth form level. Another institution offering vocational courses is Norland College.
Bath has two universities. The oldest and most centrally located in the University of Bath, which has been in existence since 1966. The University of Bath is one of the UK’s top universities. As well as mathematics, technology, architecture and the physical sciences, the University of Bath also has a strong reputation for social sciences and management. The University of Bath is also home to the Sports Training Village, a highly regarded facility for physical training.
The other major university associated with the city is Bath Spa University. In contrast to the more scientific bent of the University of Bath, this institution is primarily focused on arts and the humanities. As the University of Bath, Bath Spa University offers courses in the social sciences.
It is a very popular choice for students seeking to study the performing arts and art and design, as well as English and creative studies. Bath Spa University also provides degrees in historical studies, cultural studies and education. While it’s technically considered a Bath University, the main campus is actually located a short distance from the city proper; however, the university’s art college, Bath School of Art and Design, is located within the city limits.
Bath Spa University administers courses and award degrees through other establishments, principally Weston College (situated in the town of Weston-super-Mare, a town not far from Bath).
Bath is well-connected by road. It’s on the A4 motorway, which connects to Bristol and thus to other major motorways.
Transport in and around Bath is good. The city is small enough that most neighbourhoods are in easy walking or at least cycling distance from the centre.
Cycling is a popular mode of transport and is well-supported with dedicated cycle lanes and paths. There’s a cycle route between Bath and the larger city of Bristol (the Bristol and Bath Railway Path). Bath also lies on National Cycle Route 24. This route runs from Portsmouth to Southampton, using low-traffic roads and former railway land.
There are good bus connections from the city centre to the rest of the city and outlying regions. Regular bus services run from Bath to Bristol and other nearby towns and cities. There are also intercity coach services running from Bath to major cities outside of the region, including London.
Bath has good rail connections too. The main railway station is Bath Spa (not to be confused with Bath Green Park, a suburban station in the same city). From Bath Spa, services run to various towns and cities including Bristol, Cardiff and London.
Another way to get around Bath is via water. The river Avon connects Bath to the ocean and also the city of Bristol; this route can be navigated by small boats. As well as the river Avon, there is also a canal — the Kennet and Avon canal — that provides a connection to London. Although closed for many years, the canal was reopened in the 1990s and has become popular with users of small boats such as narrowboats.
Social life in Bath is lively and diverse. As a university city with a large student population, there are plenty of inexpensive bars and pubs. More entertainment can be found in many clubs and music venues. ClubXL is one of the biggest nightspots, with a variety of different club nights to enjoy.
For those who prefer a smaller and more intimate venue, Moles is the place to hear live music in a friendly space. Po Na Na is also small but lively and reasonably priced. Bath’s largest entertainment venue is The Forum, a former music hall with fantastic Art Deco decor inside and out. Nash House, a Grade 1 listed building, hosts comedy nights, films and other entertainments. There are plenty of high-end eateries serving world-class cuisine, as well as smaller cafes and coffee shops. As you’d expect from an affluent and historic city, Bath offers plenty of cultural entertainment for residents to enjoy.
Is Bath a good place to work?
For those moving to the UK for work, Bath offers excellent career opportunities.
The average salary in Bath is higher than the national average, at just over £25,000.
Bath was once a centre for manufacturing in the UK but this has fallen into decline since the late 20th century. Fortunately, other sectors have picked up the slack and the city remains very prosperous, with a high rate of employment, low unemployment and low underemployment.
Economically, Bath is thriving, with numerous major companies making their homes in the city. One of the largest sectors in terms of employment is education — unsurprising in a city with two universities. Another is healthcare; the principal employer in this field is the National Health Service (NHS). The Ministry of Defence remains a major employer, despite some MOD offices moving to Bristol in recent years.
Tourism and leisure are also important to Bath’s economy and provide a significant percentage of jobs in the city; Bath is a huge draw for international tourism, with visitors flocking to enjoy the historic architecture, the Roman baths and other attractions, which also boosts the retail sector in the city.
The publishing industry is another major economic sector in Bath, with Future plc (a publisher oof magazines and digital media) being located in the city. Software and technology are heavily represented among the higher paying employers; engineering consultancy BuroHappold and software services company IPL Information Processing Limited are both headquartered in Bath, employing several hundred people.
Bath has a lot of good opportunities for skilled and qualified candidates across a wide range of sectors — including some that may be harder to get into in other cities. One example would be graphic designers, who sometimes struggle to access quality opportunities in their industry, may be particularly interested in Bath.
Is Bath a good place to buy a house?
House prices in Bath are significantly higher than in other parts of the country. Notoriously, this is one of the least affordable cities in the UK.
The national average currently stands at a little over £226,000; the average in Bath currently stands at almost ££471,000.
There’s a lot of variance in price depending on the neighbourhood where you buy your house, with properties on the south of the river generally being significantly less expensive than those in the BA1 district on the north side. The most expensive neighbourhood is probably Lansdown; the most expensive street, Somerset Place, has an average house price of over £2.39 million. This is in contrast to Keynsham, which has an average house price under £149,000.
While there aren’t really any “cheap” neighbourhoods, the upside is that pretty much every part of the city is a pleasant place to live with desirable properties and no nasty surprises. The neighbourhood you choose will depend more on your own situation and what you want out of life: a quiet suburban residence, something close to the schools or a flat in a lively area with lots going on.
The average price for a one-bedroom house in Bath is around £312,000. For a three-bedroom house is about £396,000, while a five-bedroom property is in the region of £1,120,000. Rents are similarly high, averaging £1,400 per calendar month.
On average, a one-bedroom property rents for around £700 pcm, a three-bedroom property rents for just over £1,560 pcm and a five-bedroom property rents for £2,440 pcm.
Is Bath a good place to retire?
If you have the money, Bath is the perfect place to retire. It’s a safe city with lots of amenities, beautiful properties in lovely surroundings and a high quality of life.
Whether you enjoy cultural activities, refreshing spa days at a natural thermal spring, long riverside walks or hikes in the Somerset countryside, Bath has something for you. The biggest obstacle is likely to be the cost of retirement properties. The least expensive, such as a single bedroom or studio apartment in The Oval neighbourhood, might cost less than £90,000.
By contrast, a luxury retirement apartment in Bath’s iconic Empire building could cost ten times that. The Bath Spa area is particularly popular with retirees; it’s also one of the more expensive districts in the city. If you’re looking for a less expensive area you could try the neighbourhoods south of the river. Be aware, however, properties in Bath tend to be highly priced across the city.
Many retirement properties in the city are one-bedroom or two-bedroom flats but you can find larger properties in Bath as well. There are some very appealing purpose-built developments for retirees, as well as converted or adapted properties with fantastic original features.
The average price of a one-bedroom retirement property is around £150,000. A three-bedroom retirement property costs around £200,000. Larger retirement properties of four bedrooms and up are rare and tend to come with a large price ticket; expect to pay about £700,000 for a five-bedroom property (although prices vary significantly).
Renting a retirement property can be quite difficult, as retirement rentals are harder to find than properties for sale. You can improve your odds by widening your net and considering outlying areas like Weston. Renting a retirement flat will cost around £650 pcm for a one-bedroom flat.
You are unlikely to find a dedicated retirement property in Bath with more than one or two bedrooms; that said, you can, of course, find a conventional property for rent instead. Expect to pay around £1,560 pcm for a three-bedroom flat and £2,440 pcm for a five-bedroom flat.
Is Bath a good place to visit?
Bath is a noted tourist destination. It was designated as a World Heritage site in the late ’80s and is hugely popular with visitors. People come to enjoy the ambience provided by the classic architecture, the culture, and of course the soothing and reviving properties of the famous thermal springs.
Bath is a great place for a short break; a day trip is unlikely to cover more than a fraction of what the city has to offer. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available in the city. Options range from budget hotel chains and boutique bed-and-breakfasts to more luxurious options such as the Gainsborough in Bath Spa or No. 15 Great Pultney.
The most famous landmark is, of course, the Roman bath complex. This takes in the baths themselves, along with a Roman temple and a museum detailing the history of the springs and the city as a whole. You can also take the waters yourself with a visit to Thermae Bath Spa.
Other famous landmarks include Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, with its picture-perfect Georgian architecture. Sally Lunn’s is the oldest house in the city and is now a tea-shop where visitors can stop for a light meal. There’s a lot to see in Bath so a guided walk or hop-on-hop-off bus tour is highly recommended.
For a truly immersive historical experience, visit the Jane Austen Centre — it’s a museum where you can meet and interact with costumed actors as you learn more about the author’s life.
Bath is also a great spot for shopping, with plenty of appealing independent shops selling everything from souvenirs to haute couture. After a day of shopping and sightseeing, you can top your day off with a night at one of Bath’s theatres, a concert or a comedy show.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.