Constantly lauded as one of the best places to live in Britain, Cambridge is worth considering for anyone thinking of moving to the United Kingdom. This stunning but tiny city offers the perfect blend of cosmopolitan and old-world living. However, it is the 3rd least affordable city in the United Kingdom.
Is Cambridge a good place to live? This city boasts of great rail connections and growing tech businesses. It has all the benefits of a borough in inner London, with the benefit of amazing commons, architecture, parks and river, without the downsides. However, the property prices in Cambridge are relatively high.
Whether you are moving to Cambridge because of a job offer or just looking for a new relocation spot in the United Kingdom, you’ve come to this blog post because you have questions.
- Does Cambridge have any bad neighbourhoods?
- Is the education system good?
- How are the transport links?
Continue reading to know more.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Live?
Cambridge is a generally safe city with low crime levels. Chaucer Road, Latham Road Round Church Street, Gwydir Street, De Freville Avenue, The Marque, Queens Road, Riverside, Barrow Road, Station Road, Clarendon Street, Mill Road and Elfleda Road are among the best addresses in Cambridge.
Any expat or UK citizens moving to Cambridge with school going children are well taken care of as the city has plenty of good schools. Foxton Primary School, Kings Edge Primary School, Fawcett Primary School, Babraham CofE (VC) Primary School and Fordham CofE Primary School are some of the best primary schools in the area with respect to Ofsted reports.
Comprehensive secondary education is provided by Netherhall School, Parkside Community College, Coleridge Community College, Chesterton Community College, North Cambridge Academy and St Bede’s School. Many other pupils in the Cambridge area go to village colleges.
Cambridge is also home to the University of Cambridge, a campus of Anglia Ruskin University, Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge Regional College and Long Road Sixth Form College.
Due to the rapid growth of Cambridge during the 20th century, the city experiences congested roads. It is served by the M11 motorway which comes from East London. This motorway connects to the A14, which is a major freight route connecting the port of Felixstowe with the Midlands. There’s also the A428 road which connects Canterbury to Bedford and St. Neots. The A10 connects this city to Central London and King’s Lynn.
Due to the traffic congestion, many residents choose to cycle to work or to school. A 2013 survey showed that 47% of Canterbury residents travelled by bike at least once in a week. Cambridge also has its own airport.
Residents also travel via rail. The Cambridge railway station offers direct rail commutes to the capital city with terminal at King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, and St Pancras. A commuter rail service to King’s Cross runs every 30 minutes during the peak times, with a travel duration of 53 minutes. The other railway station is Cambridge North which was opened in 2017.
Social life in Cambridge is fairly lively. There is a great selection of restaurants, pubs, hotels, and shops. Family friendly activities are available in the city centre and in the nearby villages.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Work?
In July 2016, Cambridge was named the best city in England to work in according to a study done by Glassdoor. Cambridge has a long reputation for being Britain’s most adored cities, and now it has emerged as a hot spot for high-tech firms which are having a clear impact on where people choose to stay and work.
As a matter of fact, this city and its surrounds are at times called “Silicon Fen”, which is an illusion to the famous Silicon Valley. This is because of the high population of high-tech firms and tech incubators that are established on science parks in and around the city. Cambridge Science Park, the biggest commercial R&D centre in the whole of Europe is run by Trinity College.
Tech companies in the area include Sinclair, Abcam, ARM Limited, Jagex, CSR and CamSemi. Microsoft Research UK offices are also located in West Cambridge. Residents also find employment in Arm Inc., AstraZeneca, The University of Cambridge, the National Health Service, Autonomy Corporation, Sepura, and Marshall Aerospace.
The economy of Cambridge is diverse with strength in fields like Research & Development, High Value Engineering, Pharmaceuticals, Software Consultancy, Creative Industries and Tourism.
Unemployment levels in Cambridge are very low with most people being able to find full time work. Working in this city is indeed worthwhile as the average salary is £30,914 (as of April 2019).
With respect to academic achievements, Bachelor of Science degree holders earn an average salary of £34,890, Bachelor of Arts degree holders earn on average £29,460 while Bachelor of Engineering degree holders have an average salary of £39,665. PhD holders earn an average salary of £41,335.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Buy a House?
An expat moving to the United Kingdom or UK citizens looking for a new relocation spot will find that Cambridge is an attractive place to buy a house. With its awe-rising historic buildings, medieval streets, wonderful riverside parks and plenty of yearly events for entertaining locals and visitors, it is clear to see why this town is loved by many.
As the county town of Cambridgeshire, Cambridge is home to the world famous University of Cambridge. It lies 50 miles north of the capital city of UK, placing it well within easy reach for commuters, and it’s also a few miles away from Peterborough.
The city’s history, rich culture and small size attract many London buyers, but it should also be noted that Cambridge is a destination for commuters in its own right because it has its own blossoming businesses and industry.
Due to the mentioned factors, the housing market has moved towards the more affluent home buyers. The average price of a property in Cambridge is £456,761 (as onf April 2019) which is a huge step up from the national average of £312,138.
The southern half of Cambridge city is especially sought after by people looking to buy homes because of its close proximity to the train station and local schools. The northern half could however be a good place for investment.
Near the heart of the city is The Kite, which is bordered by East Road, Maids Causeway, Emmanuel Road, Newmarket Road, Parkside, Short Street and Parker Street. It mostly features exquisite 19th century terrace homes made using pale bricks.
To the south of the city centre is Hills Roads. Streets edging off this road like Hartington Grove have some wonderful Edwardian and Victorian style terrace houses with bay windows.
The Newtown area has some of the most attractive streets like Chaucer and Latham Roads. Chaucer Road has elegant Arts & Crafts style detached houses situated on a leafy road. A high number of these properties have 6-7 bedrooms as well as luxurious additions like heated pools, tennis courts and even studios.
Modern properties are available at Aberdeen Avenue, which lies to the east of Newtown. The properties here have won awards for their stunning architecture and they also command high prices.
Grantesher and Trumpington have a strong collection of scenic cottages and substantial period houses. The streets running from Trumpington Road feature some of the biggest family houses in Cambridge. This is a good area to house-hunt for those who love Arts & Crafts Homes and brand new homes.
Contemporary homes are also available at Kaleidoscope and The Marque. The latter is the tallest residential building in this city and it features a variety of luxury apartments.
De Freville is a fashionable neighbourhood that appeals to families thanks to its proximity to Jesus Green and Midsummer Common as well as the superb collection of well-heeled homes. Here, it is possible to find properties with double bay windows and Gothic details.
A single bedroomed property in Cambridge goes for an average price of £177,000, a three-bedroomed property sells for an average of £479,578 and a larger five-bedroomed house goes for an average price of £855,312. Flats for sale are more expensive with a 1-bed flat going for an average price of £247,331 and a 3-bed flat selling for an average of £456,532.
Asking rents are also quite high. A single bedroom home has an average rent of £616 pcm, a three bedroomed home goes for an average rent of £1,470 pcm and a 5-bed property has an average rent of £2,236. The average asking rent for a 1-bed flat is £760 pcm and a 3-bed flat for rent goes for an average price of £1,677 pcm.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Invest in Property?
The growing popularity of Cambridge city and its surrounds over the past few years has led to the increasing numbers of people planning to invest in the city’s real estate sector. Prospective landlords have a wide choice of potential tenants to pick from in the area including students and residents working in Addenbrookes Hospital, the University and science parks.
People looking to invest in property might want to consider areas like CB1, Chesterton and the northern part of the city. This is because the new Cambridge North Station offers an alternative route to UK’s capital and is thus likely to develop in interest among the commuters.
A family will ideally prefer a home with some outdoor space within easy access of good schools. A sample popular area is in Mill Road which has the “family” setting within easy reach to public and independent schools.
The Villages situated on the South and West sides of the city are also a popular hotspot for families seeking close access to private schools, and to train stations like Whittlesford and Royston to take daily commutes to London easily.
Landlords will need to think about the costs that come with purchasing and owing investment properties like landlords insurance, yearly landlord license, building insurance, possible service fees and the cost of hiring a third party to manage the property.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Raise a Family?
Cambridge has plenty of upsides. It has nice parks, great places to cycle and good schools. The transport links to London and other nearby towns are also very reliable and crime levels are generally low. On the downside, it is an expensive city, there’s high traffic congestion and parking is also bad.
The cost of basic utilities (gas/electricity, heating and cooling, water and garbage collection) for an 85m2 apartment in Cambridge is £186.80 (April 2019). The town is well serviced by gas/electricity companies. For mortgage buyers, the yearly mortgage interest rate for a 20-year fixed rate is £3.43% (as of April 2019).
In general Cambridge is a good place to raise a family despite the high cost of living, though it is 25% cheaper than the capital city of UK. There are modern amenities, good wages, credit companies where people with good credit scores can ask for loans to invest in businesses, reliable education centres and good commuter links.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Retire?
Frequently voted as being among the best cities in Britain, Cambridge is worth considering for those looking for a retirement spot in the UK. This city hosts a variety of events for senior citizens throughout the year such as Tea Dances, Film Consortium Archive Shows and other active events aimed at promoting the overall well-being and enhance the quality of life of the elderly.
Amenities in Canterbury are top-notch and the healthcare facilities are also reliable. This city offers a good choice of retirement properties all the more reason to consider it. Retirement homes and sheltered housing facilities can be found at: Alan Percival Court, Alder Court, An Lac House, Bracondale, Brandon Court, Brooklyn Court, Burling Court, Coach House Court, Cottenham Court, Dennis Wilson Court, Ditchburn Place, Ditton Court, Dunstan Court, Ellis House and many other developments.
It is possible to find a 1-bedroomed retirement property in Millcroft Court that goes for as high as £180,000. A 3-bed terraced property in Riverside goes for £625,000 while a 5-bedroomed detached home on Marsh Lane goes for £530,000.
Is Cambridge a Good Place to Visit?
Thousands of visitors flock the city of Cambridge every year. The city has plenty of exciting things to explore, special places to visit, and great experiences to keep any tourist occupied for several days.
Fitzwilliam Museum is the most famous museum in this city. This masterpiece building houses a wonderful collection of pottery and china made by Englishmen, antiquities from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, and illuminated manuscripts.
Another museum that is worth visiting is the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This museum holds important collections of prehistoric materials and artefacts sourced from different parts of the world including Africa.
The King’s College is also a popular attraction in Cambridge. Henry VI founded this college in 1441. It is worth visiting due to the large expanse of lawns, the river, King’s Bridge and amazing sights of the Backs. A must-see attraction at this place is the King’s College Chapel, which is renowned for its unique 12-bay interior and the stunning fan vaulting.
The Queen’s College is also a nice place to visit. It was re-founded by Elizabeth Woodville the wife of Edward IV in 1465. At this college visitors get to explore the medieval buildings, the Mathematical Bridge and the lovely gardens. The Mathematical Bridge is wooden and it’s called mathematical because it was constructed without nails, drawing its strength from meticulous calculations.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden is the perfect spot for picnics or for a relaxing stroll. This attraction includes over 8,000 plants species, a lake, rock gardens, glasshouses and a chronological bed.
Foodies are well taken care of. Fitzbillies offers world famous Chelsea Buns, a complete menu of tantalizing dishes and amazing cakes. The Eagle pub in Cambridge was where Francis Crick declared that he and James Watson had been able to discover DNA. This old huge pub features a RAF bar that has graffiti of WW2 airmen on the ceilings and walls.
Visitors who fancy walking in the countryside can visit Grantchester Village. It is just a short distance away from the centre of the city. The meadows are an ideal place for lazy walks. This village also has an array of pubs and eateries.
Another great place to visit is The Round Church. This unique circular structure is the second oldest building in Cambridge.
Visitors planning to stay in the city for several days can find luxurious accommodation at the Gonville Hotel, Varsity Hotel & Spa and Hilton Cambridge City Centre. There are also good mid-range and budget hotels like Regent Hotel, Riyal Cambridge Hotel, Lensfield and Ashley Hotel.
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.