So is High Wycombe a good place to live? Absolutely yes! Not only does High Wycombe have some great, diverse and rich history, it has fantastic transport links to London, acres of green space around and inside the town, some of the best schools in the entire UK and great shopping districts.
While there are some amazing aspects to High Wycombe, there are a few pitfalls you need to be wary of however. While most areas in the town are amazing, some are definitely worth avoiding, or at least being more wary in, while others, being tourist traps will leave you dying for some peace and quiet! While the school system is one of the best in the country, at the same time the university is voted one of the worst, and this has a lot to do with demographics which i’ll expand on later!
Is High Wycombe a good place to live?
While High Wycombe in general is a nice place to live, it’s important to bear in mind that just like with any town or city, there are good and bad places to be. While some areas are fantastic, others have problems with crime, anti social behaviour, wandering gangs and youths looking to start trouble. Also, while some are nice green, quiet areas, others are concrete wastelands with nothing of beauty to look at. Social and ethnic cleansing in the town, just as with most, tends to create pockets of areas that are not safe to live in, and others that are.
In general, the best neighbourhoods in High Wycombe to live tend to be the outskirts of the town which are a good mix between the rural and urban, such as Marlow Hill & Wooburn Green. They are picturesque, have fantastic schools, tend to be safer than the rest of High Wycombe (and cities such as London) and are very family friendly. Of course these areas reflect this in their house prices which i’ll go into later!
The worst neighbourhoods tend to be the town centre, due to the dense population of people, then there are specific areas that you should avoid such as Eaton Avenue, Hughenden Road, Desborough Road and nearby. There tend to be council estates and catchments there that are a tell-tale sign of how dangerous the area would be. While these may seem like bargain places to live, you’d regret it very shortly afterwards!
In terms of crime rates, High Wycombe is a tale of two cities. While some areas such as Castlefield and Desborough Road suffers from some of the worst types and amounts of crime in the south-west, at the same time, the outskirts and suburbs are very safe, even if walking alone at night. As with living in a city, it’s just best to be wary of where you’re walking to or through and what time of day it is.
With regards to the school system in High Wycombe, the vast majority of primary and secondary schools in Buckinghamshire have received an outstanding rating from Ofsted, and only 17 schools out of 280 have received less than a good rating. However, while the school system is doing well, unfortunately the university is not doing so well. Buckinghamshire New University is rated as one of the worst in the UK due to problems with teaching. This won’t affect most families however, because of course once your children have left school, they are free to go anywhere in the UK for their university course (as did ours!)
Transportation in the town is fantastic with links by bus to most places, while travelling into London takes just a 30 minute train ride into London Paddington or London Marylebone.
As for social life, if you’re the kind of person that wants to go clubbing, unfortunately there are only a few bars and clubs for you to go party at and most of those are filled with students from the university! However, if you’re the kind of person that likes a nice quiet pint in a community pub, you’ve got quite a few of those ii the more rural parts of the town, such as The Squirrel, Dolphin and the famous General Havelock!
Is High Wycombe a good place to work?
High Wycombe is a mixed bag when it comes to employment. Due to being so close to London it has become a major commuting hub for many families that work in The Big Smoke. This means that most corporations base themselves in London as opposed to the town.
At the same time, the town has a rich history of furniture making which means that carpentry and joinery were the town’s main industries. In the modern world however, these industries have all but died out, forcing those tradesmen to find new careers. Then there’s the fact that there are many shops in the town centre.
This means that while there is only 8% of people in the town on benefits (more than 10% lower than the national average), the majority of those unemployed are people being displaced out of their careers by modern production and distribution, as opposed to unskilled workers, youth or those straight out of university as you see in much of the UK. There is an industrial area that contains Swan (the Tobacco accessories company), and Verco (office furniture producers), as well as companies that produce paper, clothing, plastics and precision instruments. These, and the council tend to be the biggest employers in the area outside of retail. The council is taking measures to bring more businesses and corporations into the area however, so expect this to change soon!
Is High Wycombe a good place to buy a house?
Yes! Of course, the best places to buy a house would be on any of the outskirts of the town (especially the northern parts) as opposed to the city centre. This way you get the benefit of great schools, fantastic areas of peace and rural greenery and safety. However, while most of High Wycombe is a fantastic place to live, there are definitely areas you should avoid:
- High Wycombe’s town centre – loud, some crime, not very pretty or peaceful, densely populated & unfriendly people
- Desborough Road, Hughenden Road & Eaton Avenue – high crime rates, organized crime gangs, prostitution and drugs use make these very unsafe and unhappy places to live
- Bowerdean, Castlefield & Micklefield Estates – These are the least popular areas to invest in the new property as crime rate and unemployment are high.
If you’re looking to buy a house in High Wycombe, on average you would be set back £198k for a 1 bedroom, £368k for a 3 bedroom and £687k for a 5 bedroom.
If you’re looking to rent instead, while you are living here for work or just to spend some time here, the prices you would be looking at on average are £701 per month for a 1 bedroom, £1231 per month for a 3 bedroom & £1062 per month for a 5 bedroom.
is High Wycombe a good place to retire
I feel like this would be a resounding yes, but with a few caveats! It is important to note that High Wycombe does contain a fair amount of hills if they bother you, and the town is fairly spread out, meaning you may be a long walk from your local shop. However, a fairly regular bus timetable does help with this!
At the same time, the peace and quiet offered by being outside of the town centre, as well as the acres of rambling space, ability to hike and be in the peace and quiet of nature and large amounts of garden space for your own gardening hobbies, mean the town is ideal for retirees! This is also borne out by the fact that development companies such as McCarthy & Stone are building retiree specific developments around the area.
If you’re looking to buy a retiree property, it will cost you on average £203k for 1 bed, £369k for 3 beds and £687k for 5 beds. To rent, you will be spending £635 per month for 1 bed, £1284 per month for 3 beds & £1062 for 5 beds.
Is High Wycombe a good place to visit?
High Wycombe is one of the nicest places in the UK you can possibly visit that doesn’t have a beach or have the name Harrogate! The town has a wide range of activities and culture, as well as beautiful land to ramble and hike on. If you’re looking for a bit of man-made culture, then the Hughenden Manor (stately home of Benjamin Disreali), The Rye, The Wycombe Swan (High Wycombe’s touring theatre) or Cliveden House are fantastic places to visit. There is also of course The Hellfire Caves; a man-made cave network for members of The Hellfire Club, a slightly mysterious society that wanted to take part in acts condemned as immoral by the church, such as reading classic literature.
At the same time, the natural wonders of the town’s surroundings are ceaseless, with beautiful rolling hills and acres of green space. The National Trust protects much of the areas around the town due to the outstanding nature of it all.
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.