Bedford is not quite Milton Keynes and it is also not famed for its beauty, but if you are moving to the United Kingdom and looking for a town that offers an easy commute to London and has many employment opportunities, it could be the town for you.
Is Bedford a good place to live? Bedford is a county town in England that is well-known for having a huge population of Italians. This town offers a good quality of life, many job opportunities and reliable transport networks. Though the house prices are high, they are lower than for the South of England region.
Whether you are moving to Bedford because of work or are just looking for a new relocation spot in the United Kingdom, you have landed on this page because you are seeking more information.
- Does Bedford have any bad neighbourhoods?
- What transport means are available?
- How are the schools?
Read on to find out more.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Live?
Moving to Bedford as an expat or a UK citizen is not a bad idea. Bedford is a big town full of nice neighbourhoods such as Stewartby, Houghton, Riverfield, Brickhll, Goldington Green Elstow, Kempston, and Castle Area.
In the year ending September 2018, Bedford’s crime rate was relatively higher than the mean for the whole Bedfordshire force area. The least crime filled neighbourhoods are Cannon Hill and Lower Morden while the most crime-filled neighbourhoods are St. James Park and Strand & Whitehall.
The schools in Bedford are generally good. Carlton CofE Primary School, Castle Newman School, Great Barford Primary School, The Hills Academy and Kempston Rural Primary School are some of the “outstanding” schools in the area according to Ofsted ratings. Higher education is offered at the University of Bedfordshire and Bedford College.
Bedford is worth considering for any expat or local seeking a comfortable commuter town in the UK. The Bedford train station provides direct commutes to Bletchley, Nottingham, London, Brighton and Three Bridges. It takes about one hour to travel to London using the Thameslink train service. A quicker commuter service is also offered by East Midlands Trains, which takes residents to London in just ½ an hour.
Other than railway transport, the town is also serviced by the A6 motorway which runs between Carlisle and UK’s capital city. The AI is located in the east and it is accessed through the Black Cat roundabout. There’s also the M1 roadway which lies to west. London Luton Airport is situated 45 minutes away from Bedford by car.
The social life in Bedford is relatively lively. There are plenty of coffee shops, wine bars, restaurants, and pubs. The town also offers amazing theatres and independent live entertainment venues.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Work?
The economy of Bedford is diverse with a wide range of industries that offer employment to over 35,000 people in areas such as agriculture, forestry, nuclear energy, wireless communication, education, construction and manufacturing.
The biggest employers in this county include TEVA Pharmaceuticals, Innovairre, Georgia Pacific Big Island, Bedford Memorial Hospital, Carilion Professional Services, Harris Corporation, Kier Group plc., Unilever, Sam Moore Furniture, Sentry Equipment Erectors, The National Health Service and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Residents also find employment in other companies such as Valtim, Generation Solutions, Intercon, Sterling Blower, Movianto, Charles Wells, Smyth Companies, Ark Group, Philex Electronic, DHL, Belron, Amey Business Services and Alliance Nissan.
The unemployment rate in Bedford stands at 4.3% (end of 2018) which is higher than the national average of 4%. This means that it might be harder to find employment in this area.
In Bedford, England, the average salary is £24,447 as of April 2019. In terms of academic achievements, people with a degree in Bachelor of Science earn an average salary of £26,349, those with a degree in Bachelor of Arts earn an average salary of £24,383 and Bachelor of Engineering degree holders earn an average salary of £34,657. Higher academic achievements offer higher salary levels.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Buy a House?
The diverse community, reliable transport links, and Victorian influence all make Bedford County a property hotspot. For those looking for urban properties, Goldington is a very popular residential area that lies to the east of Bedford’s town centre. This neighbourhood is near Waitrose and residents can easily access A421 and the town centre. Goldington Road and Chapel Close offer spacious Victorian semi-detached homes. More modest flats can be found on Goldington Green.
Those wishing to stay on a leafy area in a sizeable Victorian home can take a look at Poets area. Situated away from Shakespeare Road, this neighbourhood is quiet and offers elegant Victorian properties, some of which have been transformed into 1- and 2-bedroomed flats.
Castle area offers a close-knit community, and it also has its own book store and gallery. Castle Road is filled with shops and private businesses. It is possible to find quiet Victorian terrace homes with arched doorways in the Castle Area.
Black Tom area is the place to go for those who are looking for 19th century terraced homes, while Brickhill area offers homes that were built in the 60s. Pricier properties can be found at Bedford Park area and The Embankment.
Villages surrounding the town are also very popular, especially the ones that lie to the north. Oakley is one of the villages, and it features old brick cottages and more contemporary homes are also available along Hunts Path, Grenidge Way and other roads in the village.
Bromham village is situated next to a river. Its centre has limestone cottages, but there are also 20th century semi-detached properties on Stagsden road.
Biddenham lies to the west. It is a prized residential area among residents commuting to London because it is near Bedford train station. House prices here are at a premium, but those who can afford can grab a 17th century cottage or a 1930s property.
As of April 2019, the average price of a property in this town was £335, 626. This is an increase of 1.03% since January 2019, and a drop of 1.13% since April 2018.
The average price of buying a 1-bed property is £148,925 in Bedford. A 3-bed property has an average selling price of £274,379 while a larger 5-bed property has an average selling price of £605,310. A single bedroom flat in the area sells for an average price of £133,639 while a three-bedroomed flat goes for an average price of £265,909. Larger flats for sale are rare.
A 1-bed property for rent in Bedford costs £467pcm, a 3-bed home charges a rent of £937pcm and a 5-bed property for rent goes for £1,500pcm. Flats for rent are also available. A single bedroom flat for rent costs on average £571pcm and a 3-bed flat for rent sells for an average price of £1,164pcm.
Mortgage come in different forms depending on what they are needed for. The yearly mortgage fixed interest rate for twenty years ia roughly 3% in Bedford. There are plenty of credit companies in the area such as Bedford Credit Union.
Getting home insurance is always something that is worth considering after purchasing a new home. In the UK, the average cost of insurance for a home and all its contents is £161.75 per year.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Invest in Property?
Located in Bedfordshire, East of England, Bedford’s estimated population was 87,590 in 2017 and the Borough of Bedford had a population of 169,912. The fact that this town has a notable commuter population and the capital city of UK can be reached easily means that many will view it as a good place to invest.
There’s need to work out the kind of property investment one is seeking, and how hands on they can be, but all in all when it comes to getting a positive return on investment, Bedford is a town that is worth considering for those thinking of moving to the United Kingdom.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Raise a Family?
The east of England is among the best places for raising families in the UK. This is because it’s the sunniest area in the country, receiving an average of 4 hours and 34 minutes of sunshine daily which is better than the 3 hours and 3 minutes a day received in the Highlands and Scottish Islands.
In 2018, the Sunday Times named Bedford’s Castle Quarter as the 2nd best place to live in the eastern part of the UK after Chelmsford, Essex. Bedford has been overlooked unfairly by many in the past and though it is not popular for its beauty, the town provides period properties at more affordable prices than nearby towns. This town also offers an easy commute to UK’s capital.
Life in Bedford is generally not as expensive as London or Luton. The town offers amazing natural beauty and a relaxing countryside. Moreover, it is near Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Oxford, and plenty of other big towns and Universities. It is the ideal place to stay and get around.
There are plenty of modern and classic homes in Bedford that are serviced with gas/electricity amenities. Being an urban town, there are plenty of gas/electricity service providers and many other independent businesses and shops.
This town offers plenty of family-friendly activities in and around the town. The River Great Ouse, located at the heart of the town offers residents a chance to ride boats, kayaks and canoes. Furthermore, market traders gather at the town centre to sell Turkish pastries, toys, games and other goods.
For those with school-going children, the county of Bedford has good primary schools, secondary schools and some Universities too which have received good Ofsted ratings.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Retire?
For retirees who are seeking a town that offers a relaxing countryside lifestyle, Bedford is worth considering. This county town has plenty of desirable neighbourhoods and reliable transport systems. Healthcare, which is often a concern for the elderly, is top-notch. Shopping outlets are many and the social scene is also lively.
Bedfordshire is a popular retirement spot because it has elegant manors, old ruins, a wide range of interesting museums and plenty of nature and wildlife. Opportunities for health and exercise in the outdoors are available for all seniors to enjoy.
There are many retirement properties in Bedford that offer inspirational community living aimed at seniors aged over 55 years. Such homes can be found in Abbey Close, Aspley Court, Barton & Royle Homes, Bedesman’s House, Blenheim Court, Boswell Court, Christie House, Darell Jeffreys House, Dorothea Court, Edward Arnold Court, Hanover Court, Hillier Court, and Homebrook House.
Most of these retirement homes offer shared amenities such as gardens, lobbies, shops and guest facilities to promote communal living. Residents are provided with a peaceful, friendly environment and are also encouraged to be independent and to make the homes their lives.
A 2-bed retirement property in Aspley Court sells for about £130,000 while a 1-bedroomed flat for sale in the same place goes for about£115,000. The prices vary from one area to another.
Is Bedford a Good Place to Visit?
Bedford is a great place to visit as there are very many interesting tourist attraction sites and activities. The John Bunyan Museum and Library in Bedford gives visitors the chance to know more about the famous author and preacher, and also learn how life was like during the 17th century. John Bunyan became popular after he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress in the 1660s. He wrote this book while in the Bedford jail where he was imprisoned due to his nonconformist preaching.
Visitors can also take a look at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum which has been refurbished with contemporary interactive exhibits. This museum gives visitors a chance to admire Cecil Higgins Art Collection and also study the archaeology and history of Bedford.
The Eagle Gallery houses the works of popular local artists. Visitors get to view breath-taking pottery work, collages and stained glass exhibits. The exhibitions change every month and members of the public are allowed to become members and have their own art projects displayed.
Bedford Corn Exchange is the town’s biggest entertainment venue which hosts regular theatre acts, comedy and musical events. This venue is one of only 2 United Kingdom residences of the renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra located outside the capital city.
Local theatre is also showcased at The Place, which is an intimate theatre that is wholly operated by volunteers. Local theatre groups showcase their talents here. Visitors can also watch shows or exhibits at the Quarry Theatre.
Bedford is also home to the Esquires. This is a private music venue and its main stage has a capacity for only 250 people, but famous bands like Coldplay as well as Muse have held live performances there.
During the day, visitors can explore the floral displays found at the Embankment, which sits along River Great Ouse. At night, the lights at Town Bridge offer an amazing view.
Bedford Park is the ideal place for feeding ducks or walking pets. This Victorian-style park consists of a big pond with beautiful fountains, a couple of tennis courts and a pitch for playing cricket. Visitors can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee with some tasty pastries at The Pavilion.
Priory Country Park allows for quiet walks and bird watching activities. It has a Green Flag and visitors can also do some fishing in the marina.
Bedford has 3 shopping arcades. The biggest one is the Harpur Centre which has 36 stores. The arcade is undercover; therefore visitors can shop their way through the different stores without being worried about the weather. Visitors can also browse through the Church Arcade and The Arcade.
Inside the Harpur Centre, there’s the Harpur Coffee Co, a concealed gem that offers many delicious treats. The lovely Swan Hotel offers a unique setting for some afternoon tea while enjoying the views of the river.
For those who love to enjoy a drink or two, there’s the Flute wine bar and The Wellington Arms. The latter is a pub that offers a rich selection of real ale and cider drinks. The locals call it “The Welly”.
Just outside the centre of the town is St. Helena, a highly ranked hotel that offers British and European cuisine in a scenic country house. Thai food is offered by Rice Thai Restaurant and their specials are very appetising.
There are plenty of accommodation areas in the town for visitors planning to stay overnight. Some of the best accommodation centres include: Pilgrims Progress JD Wetherspoon Hotel, The Barns Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Bedford, The Knife & Cleaver, Premier Inn Bedford Hotel, Travelodge Bedford, Embankment Hotel, Woodland Manor Hotel, and Upper Wood End Farm Bed and Breakfast.
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.