Although less well-known than larger Essex towns and cities like Chelmsford and Colchester, Brentwood is well worth considering if you’re planning to relocate to the area. Brentwood is known for its medieval history and pleasant rural surroundings, especially the local woodlands. Brentwood doesn’t offer the cheapest housing but if you can find property there it’s an ideal town for London commuters.
Is Brentwood a good place to live? Brentwood is a very affluent town in a good location. Frequently voted as one of the top most desirable places to live in the UK, Brentwood offers very high employment, outstanding quality of life and a crime rate well below the national average.
Whether you’ve been offered work in the Brentwood area or are just considering possible locations for a new base in the UK, you’ve landed on this page because you have questions. Are there any neighbourhoods in Brentwood you should avoid? How many schools are there? What is the transport like? Read on to find the answers.
Is Brentwood a good place to live?
If you’re looking for a comfortable commuter town to settle in, Brentwood ticks all the boxes. It’s in a scenic part of Essex, well-connected to the rest of the country by both road and rail. Properties in this Essex town aren’t cheap but the quality of life there is worth it. There is plenty of green space and some lovely historic features in the town centre, with newer housing making up most of the suburbs.
Brentwood is a very safe place to live, with few hazards and little crime. There are essentially no bad neighbourhoods; the town is rather too small to accommodate any dramatic differences in living standards between areas.
Perhaps the most desirable neighbourhood is Hutton Mount, a tiny collection of seven-figure properties that’s so exclusive, many of its streets are deliberately blocked from Google’s Street View. Shenfield is also seen as highly desirable.
The town centre itself is a very desirable place to live, thanks to its transport connections and proximity to Brentwood’s more historically interesting elements. The suburbs offer comparatively more modest house prices.
The school system in Brentwood is generally of high quality. Primary education is largely offered through Church of England and Catholic schools, with a smattering of private prep schools.
Most of the primary schools in the area are rated “good” by Ofsted, with a number of “outstanding” primary schools. The secondary schools are also rated “good”, except for St Martin’s which has achieved an “outstanding” rating. There are no universities in the town itself, of course, but Brentwood lies in close proximity to several institutions offering tertiary education — the University of Essex, for example.
Transport is good and looks set to get even better. The town has a local bus network that connects the town centre to the outlying suburbs. Brentwood lies close to the A12 and the M25.
There is one railway station located in the town itself, to the south of Brentwood’s centre, offering rail connections to London and the rest of the country. Brentwood station has been undergoing improvements in recent years and is being integrated into the Crossrail network.
Social life in Brentwood is fairly lively. There are several traditional English pubs as well as more modern places to eat and drink. The town centre offers several restaurant chains, with a few upscale independent eateries (although serious foodies might want to head a little out of town in search of more esoteric fare).
Is Brentford a good place to work?
Brentford is noted as a commuter town rather than a city where you’d expect to work where you live. Most residents have jobs elsewhere, either in one of the bigger Essex towns and cities or in London.
That said, the town enjoys a high level of employment and there are a number of excellent employers in or near the town. Most people working in Brentwood are engaged by the banking and financial services sectors (particularly insurance), with construction also providing significant employment.
The Ford Motor Company has its headquarters in the suburbs, although manufacturing is largely carried out elsewhere; Ford’s financial services arm, the Ford Motor Credit Company, is a major employer in the area. Other major employers in the immediate area include inspection and quality assurance providers Intertek; Countryside, a property company; and International Financial Data Services.
Wages are good when compared to the national average, with £24,000 being the average salary for someone working in Brentwood.
There is plenty of opportunity for those just starting out in their careers, with lots of well-compensated entry-level positions. Unemployment stands at under two per cent, a remarkably low rate; there is also very little underemployment, with most people easily able to find full-time work.
Is Brentwood a good place to buy a house?
Brentwood’s house prices are rather notorious in the Essex are for being significantly higher than the average. If you can afford it, buying a home here could be a very good investment.
There is a solid demand for property among the incoming commuter class, which is only set to improve after the Crossrail connection is fully implemented. The high and increasing demand does mean that a buy-in won’t be cheap, with the average home costing around £470,000.
If you’re looking for a single-bedroomed house in Brentwood, you can expect to pay in the region of £246,000. A three-bedroomed property goes for around £495,000 while a larger five-bedroom family home can easily set you back £831,000.
You can save a little by purchasing a flat but the difference may not be worth sacrificing the additional space and privacy. There’s also a very small supply of larger flats for sale.
Rents are also significantly higher than you might expect to pay elsewhere, particularly for smaller properties that you’d normally expect to find a little more cheaply. The average rent in Brentwood is over £1,200 pcm.
A one bedroom house starts at around £725 pcm — much higher than the £600 or so you might expect to pay elsewhere in the region. The average three-bedroomed house rents for roughly £1,460 pcm. Larger rental homes are scarce and go for around £2,500 pcm for a five-bedroom house.
Is Brentwood a good place to retire?
For the more affluent retiree, Brentwood offers a very attractive destination. It has some highly desirable neighbourhoods and plenty of transport connections. The health care in the area, often a concern for seniors, is of very high quality.
Amenities are excellent and the Essex countryside provides plenty of healthy activity. One particular benefit to choosing Brentwood for your retirement is the ready availability of larger retirement properties. If you can afford them, Brentwood offers some highly desirable residences aimed at over-60s with four and even five bedrooms — something it can be difficult to find elsewhere at any price.
Many properties are offered at a significant discount to older buyers so it’s well worth looking at Brentwood for your retirement home.
£165,000 is a realistic price for a single-bedroom flat in one of Brentwood’s retirement developments. A one-bedroom house will cost significantly more, probably in the region of £245,000.
Three-bedroom retirement homes can sometimes run more expensive than standard properties of the same size, although not always; depending on the location, you may be able to find a charming detached property for around £310,000.
The larger properties tend to be located in the most desirable neighbourhoods (Hutton Mount and Shenfield) and this pushes the average price up significantly; prices in the region of £1,000,000 are quite usual for a five-bedroomed house.
Is Brentwood a good place to visit?
Brentwood is a good place to stop if you’re interested in British history. The town centre retains many original historic buildings, while outlying areas also offer fascinating buildings and landmarks.
Brentwood has a cathedral dating from the 1800s, and is home to the ruins of the Chapel of St Thomas a Becket. A little outside the town, you’ll find Ingatestone Hall, a 16th century manor house.
As well as heritage spots, the area around Brentwood offers some exciting attractions for families. Older children will be excited to explore Rope Runners, a high ropes park and adventure centre designed to challenge youngsters with rope bridges and zip lines in a safe but thrilling environment.
There’s also a go-kart track that’s popular with teens and older kids. Younger children will enjoy Barnyards Farm miniature railway and Old McDonald’s Farm, a traditional petting zoo with furry animals to play with and rides to enjoy. The Gruffalo Trail is an engaging walk through the woods, given an extra dimension of fun with life-sized carvings of characters from the beloved children’s picture book.
If you’re planning to stay for a night or two — not a bad idea, as the Brentwood area makes for an enjoyable short break — the town has plenty of accommodation. There are some charming bed-and-breakfasts housed in historic buildings close to town, as well as luxury hotel facilities in former manor houses or other sites of historic interest. The local Holiday Inn is a comfortable budget option.
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.