Essex is becoming an increasingly popular place for expats to settle. The county offers a high quality of living with everything from cosmopolitan cities to quiet towns and seaside resorts. One of the highest-rated towns in Essex in terms of livability is Chelmsford, the county town of Essex and the principal city of the Chelmsford region.
Is Chelmsford a good place to live? By virtually any metric, yes. Chelmsford is a safe city with a low crime rate and a fairly affluent populace. The city offers quality schools, hospitals and other amenities, as well as attractive employment opportunities.
As someone relocating to the UK, you probably have a number of questions about possible cities to settle in.
- Why is Chelmsford a great city to move in to?
- What kind of opportunities are on offer for expats?
- Which districts within the city offer the best housing?
- What’s the transportation like? Read on to find out all this and more.
Is Chelmsford a good place to live?
For many expats moving to the UK, Chelmsford is the ideal place to settle. In its “Best Places to Live” guide, the Sunday Times voted Chelmsford as the best place to live in the East of England. It’s not hard to see why: Chelmsford has a number of very enticing qualities, including its proximity to the capital. Chelmsford is far more than a mere dormitory town, however; it’s a thriving modern city with plenty of opportunities for employment and education.
The best neighbourhoods in Chelmsford will depend on what you’re looking for in terms of surroundings. City lovers will probably prefer the central Chelmsford Town area, while lovers of peace and quiet might want to look at the more rural areas on the outskirts of the city.
The lowest crime rates are found in the quieter neighbourhoods such as Boreham and Chelmsford Rural West, villages outlying the city proper but still close enough to make visits to town fairly convenient.
The Chelmsford Town neighbourhood is a popular choice for those who want to be near the heart of the city but still enjoy a pleasant area with a lower crime rate. Less desirable neighbourhoods include Springfield, Marconi and Moulsham, which all have higher crime rates than the rest of the city. Even so, these areas remain fairly safe when compared to the national average and offer inexpensive accommodation.
Chelmsford offers easy access to London via both rail and road. Local, regional and intercity bus services run regularly from the central bus terminal in Duke Street. The 36-minute commute via rail to London has made Chelmsford very popular with commuters working in London.
Chelmsford is situated within 20 miles of two airports (Stansted and Southend-on-Sea) with reliable rail and bus connections to both. A park-and-ride service also runs to and from the town centre.
Schools and universities:
Schools in Chelmsford are generally good quality at all levels, particularly Chelmsford County girls’ school and King Edward VI Grammar School. The main venue for further education is Chelmsford College, rated “Good” by OFSTED. Chelmsford houses part of the Anglia Ruskin University, previously known as Anglia Polytechnic.
As you’d expect of a British city, Chelmsford is well-supplied with pubs. These range from large chain establishments to small local pubs, offering a variety of entertainments from televised sports to live music. The annual V Festival is popular with both young and old attendees. Chelmsford City Theatres offer a range of events from lunchtime concerts to major theatrical productions.
Is Chelmsford a good place to work?
Chelmsford enjoys fairly high employment, with the construction and property dominating the jobs market alongside businesses in the finance and international shipping sectors.
Other major employers in the city include Ford motors and various major supermarket chains. As you’d expect from the city that was the birthplace of radio, the tech and energy sectors are heavily represented in Chelmsford too.
Some of the biggest employers include the Mclaren Construction Group PLC and Climate Energy Holdings. Anglia Ruskin University is also a major employer, offering attractive careers in various different roles.
Unemployment levels in the city are in line with national averages, with 2019 seeing a drop in the number of people seeking work. While unemployment is a problem in most British cities, Chelmsford has no major issues with joblessness due to its thriving economy and the presence of several major employers within the city. Underemployment has also fallen, with many workers making the transition from part-time to full-time work in recent years.
Average salaries are competitive, with Climate Energy and SELEX Galileo offering some of the best rates of pay, with salaries of £41,000 and up for top roles. An Operations Manager in Chelmsford can expect to make around £30,000 per annum while someone in a lower-paid role such as a Teaching Assistant can expect between £10,000 and £11,000.
Is Chelmsford a good place to buy a house?
The property market in Chelmsford is an attractive one. When homeowners purchase a property in Chelmsford they are very likely to stay in or near the city, thanks to competitive house prices and plenty of opportunities to hop on the property ladder.
Rental demand in the city is also very robust, as many incomers choose to rent family homes before taking the plunge and trying to find a property to buy. Prices are competitive and there is a range of properties available.
The average price for a property in Chelmsford is around £380,000. More upmarket neighbourhoods include the sought-after villages of Greater Baddow and Writtle, where family homes can command upwards of £1100,000. At the lower end of the market, areas like Springfield are fairly central but offer modestly-priced properties.
On average, a single-bedroom home in Chelmsford costs around £230,000. A three-bed property is around £360,000 while a five-bedroom house costs in the region of £676,000. Rents are highly competitive. A single-bedroomed house will cost around £500 pcm with a three-bedroomed property renting for £1,200 pcm. Five-bedroom rental homes are somewhat scarce, renting for upwards of £1,700.
Flats, of course, are somewhat less expensive to buy and rent. That said, the differences between the price of a flat and the price of a house in Chelmsford are fairly minimal, especially when compared to locations such as London. A spacious family home is a much more viable option in Chelmsford than in most areas of London, for example.
Is Chelmsford a good place to retire?
As a retirement option, Chelmsford has a number of aspects to recommend it. For seniors who want to retire to an archetypal English village, areas such as Writtle and other villages on the city’s outskirts are ideal. With charming cottages and scenic country walks, there are many lovely places in and around Chelmsford which are perfect to start a new chapter in your life.
If vibrant nightlife and trips up to London are more your speed, the centre of Chelmsford is a great place to retire. You’ll be living within easy reach of theatres, cinemas and other entertainment venues, as well as major transport hubs.
Chelmsford is popular with retirees and boasts many dedicated retirement homes, with dwellings ranging from houses to flats. Some properties are restricted to over 50s and sheltered housing is plentiful.
If access to transport is a concern, retirees should avoid areas that are less well-connected to the public transport system or lacking easy driving options. Seniors might want to avoid neighbourhoods like Springfield and Marconi; despite being fairly easy to get to and from, they have a higher crime rate.
Access to quality healthcare is often a concern for retirees. Chelmsford has plenty of excellent GPs, both NHS and private. There are several hospitals in and around the city, including the well-regarded Broomfield hospital and the large Chelmsford & Essex hospitals. Springfield Hospital is an option for private patients.
Dedicated retirement properties with more than two bedrooms are very scarce in Chelmsford. The average price for a one-bedroom retirement property is around £350,000. Two-bedroom retirement properties are around £400,000.
Renting retirement properties in Chelmsford is an attractive option. An average price would be £650 pcm for a one-bedroomed flat or £700 for a two-bed flat.
Is Chelmsford a good place to visit?
Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, Chelmsford is a great place to visit all year round. There is plenty of quality accommodation, from inexpensive lodgings to five-star hotels. The city offers the best in film and theatre, along with world-class dining and lively nightclubs.
If you want to shop till you drop, the centre of Chelmsford boasts everything from big-name chains to the quirkiest independent boutiques. For those looking to snag a bargain or two, the Indoor Retail Market is ideal.
As well as offering all the convenience of a modern city, Chelmsford is an ancient town dating back to the Roman invasion. As such, there is plenty of history to explore. The city’s interactive museum is a popular attraction for history buffs of all ages and there are several art galleries to attract those of a cultural bent.
Famous landmarks include Hylands Estate, a stately home that now plays host to festivals, artist’s residencies and business events. Stanford Mill, a former textile mill, is now a centre for science and engineering education. One of the most important city landmarks is the historic Chelmsford Cathedral.
Chelmsford is a great place for a short break. Popular attractions for families with kids include the Jump Street trampoline park and Marsh Farm animal adventure park. Walkers and cyclists will find plenty to see and do both in and around the city.
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.