Exeter is generally regarded as a great place to live. Located in the rural county of Devon, Exeter offers a little of everything: miles of gorgeous coastline, rolling hills, farmland and countryside all around — but it’s still a thriving city with plenty to do.
Exeter is well known for its cathedral and for Exeter University, which has two campuses in the city. There are many historic buildings in and around Exeter and it’s hugely popular with tourists.
Is Exeter a good place to live? The overall quality of life there is regarded as good. There are a few drawbacks, including lower wages and some underemployment. Most residents are happy in the city and it enjoys a positive reputation in the rest of the country.
Whether you’re coming to Exeter as a student, looking for somewhere in the UK to relocate, or planning to settle down and enjoy your retirement in the famous West Country, there are probably a lot of questions you have regarding Exeter.
How much does it cost to buy a house there? What kind of jobs are available in the city? Are the schools good? What is the city like for retirees? To find out more about the county town of Devon, read on.
Is Exeter a good place to live?
Exeter is a city offering many advantages. Firstly, there’s the setting: located on the Devon coast, Exeter is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. Secondly, there’s the charm and historicity of the city itself.
Exeter is a cathedral city with a great many very well-preserved historic buildings, particularly around the city centre; although it suffered significant damage during WWII, the city retains a number of charming medieval streets and there are many buildings dating back several centuries. Exeter also boasts a namesake university and plenty of modern development.
The most sought-after neighbourhoods are principally those on the easterly side of the river, the same side as the University. Desirable neighbourhoods include Alphington, Countess Wear, Pennsylvania, Whimple, Heavitree and St Leonard’s.
Less desirable areas include Burnthouse Lane and a few lower-income areas on the west side. That said, there are no really dangerous areas in the city. Exeter is very safe overall, with crime figures below the national average and declining.
The primary schools in the city are generally regarded as very good. There are five state secondary schools in the city, as well as three schools for children with special needs and various independent schools. Colleges of further education are also available for sixth-formers. The main university in the city is the University of Exeter; however, the University of Plymouth also has campuses there.
Transportation is generally good, although roads in and out of the city can become very congested at certain times. Exeter has three major railway stations; the city is on a major railway line and serves as a regional hub for several branch lines. Some of these only run during the summer months as services are aimed at holidaymakers travelling to and from other parts of Devon.
The local bus network is extensive and services are plentiful, although as you would expect there are some neighbourhoods that have better access than others. Exeter is on several intercity coach routes.
The social scene in Exeter is very lively, as you might expect for a city with a high student population. The music scene in the city is regarded as good, with many big names playing at the Cavern and other central venues.
Entertainment in the area ranges from small traditional pubs, large, sprawling chain pubs and more high-end eateries like The Waterfront. There are plenty of cultural experiences to enjoy, including a number of theatres.
Is Exeter a good place to work?
Employment prospects in the city are generally good. The average salary is around £24,000, which is in line with national averages and better than Devon as a whole.
Exeter does have some problems with underemployment, although this principally affects workers who are seeking entry-level positions rather than skilled and experienced candidates. It’s also worth noting that the preponderance of part-time workers in the city also reflects the high student population, with full-time students only able to take jobs
Unemployment is in line with the average across the UK and disposable income is fairly high.
As you might have surmised given the presence of so many tertiary education facilities, the education sector is a big employer locally. Teaching assistant is a very popular job for those starting out in the workforce.
The manufacturing and construction sectors also provide much of the available work, along with local government. Aside from educational establishments, major employers in the city include the Met Office, Flybe (an
Is Exeter a good place to buy a house?
House prices in Exeter are significantly higher than the national average, as well as being higher than the average across the rest of Devon. The most expensive neighbourhoods include the city centre itself and leafy suburbs such as Whimple and St. Leonard’s. Less expensive neighbourhoods include St. Thomas and Bradninch.
The price of a home in Exeter averages £306,000. You can expect to pay something in the region of £147,000 for a one-bedroomed house, £292,000 for a three-bedroomed house and £644,000 for a five-bedroom home.
If you’re prepared to look at the outlying areas of the city and don’t mind living in a less desirable neighbourhood, you can find significantly cheaper properties.
Rents in the city are also high, averaging £925
The market for rental housing is under a certain amount of pressure because of the high number of students coming to Exeter to study; for this reason, flats are not necessarily much cheaper than houses to rent.
One way to find a cheaper property is to consider a park home (essentially a chalet or large static caravan). These are chiefly located in the Newport Park area and can cost as little as £75,000.
Is Exeter a good place to retire?
Exeter is generally a good place to retire, in terms of transport and amenities. It can, however, be rather a headache to look for a retirement home in the city. Most retirees look at neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city, where they can enjoy a more relaxed and semi-rural atmosphere; these include St. Leonard’s and Whimple.
That said, there are also some really good purpose-built retirement properties in the city centre. These include
Retirement properties tend to be smaller homes, with a one-bedroom flat being more typical than a multi-room house. £100,000 is a typical average price for a one-bedroom property, although there are plenty of flats which are significantly lower in price.
Renting a retirement home in Exeter can be tricky, as stock is limited and demand fairly high. For those who want a larger home and who don’t require much additional support, it is of course quite possible to buy or rent a standard property. The park homes located in the Newport Park area are a popular option for retirees, offering fairly spacious dwellings at a modest price.
Is Exeter a good place to visit?
Exeter is a great place for a day trip or a short break. There is plenty of accommodation, ranging from the inexpensive backpacker hostels favoured by prospective students to luxury hotels and lodgings in historic buildings.
Major landmarks include Exeter Cathedral, of course, along with the cathedral close. The city has many fascinating religious buildings, in
Exeter’s preeminent museum is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Queen Street; there are numerous other museums and galleries dotted around the city. Another notable landmark is “The House that Moved”, a Tudor-era merchant’s home that was painstakingly transported to its current location during
There are plenty of enjoyable activities available in the city itself, including walks along the Exeter Canal and the banks of the river Exe. Exeter Quay is a popular spot for visitors. There are any number of nature walks in and around the city, particularly along the coast. There are various popular attractions outside the city centre;
examples are Darts Farm, a wildlife centre run by the RSPB, and Powderham Castle, a stately home with extensive landscaped grounds that include a walled garden.
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.