Is Ipswich a good place to live? On the whole, yes. While it might not be your first choice if you’re looking for work, Ipswich has good amenities and plenty to do. It’s also in a very convenient situation if you plan to commute. Housing is cheap and crime is moderate.
Whether you’re looking at UK towns and cities for your next move, have been offered a job in Ipswich or are planning to attend the University of Suffolk, you’ve landed on this page because you need to know about this historic Suffolk town. Are there good schools? What industries make up the local economy? What are the house prices like? To find out this and more, just read on.
Is Ipswich a good place to live?
Ipswich offers a number of advantages as a place to settle in the UK. While it’s less glamourous or picturesque than some other towns and cities, it’s a large town with plenty of amenities and several very pleasant neighbourhoods. One major attraction, especially for first-time buyers, is that house prices are quite low. Some of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Ipswich are Belstead, Birkfield, Castle Foxhall, Heath Hill, Nacton Rushmere and Sproughton. There are a number of less well-heeled neighbourhoods — perhaps not as desirable but still pleasant and offering lower property prices. These include Chantry, Hollywells, Whitehouse and Whitton.
Crime overall is fairly low, although there are one or two spots where it’s more common. Alexandra and Westgate are sometimes pointed out as higher crime areas — but this is largely because they happen to be near the town centre and contain more bars and nightclubs.
Schools are a mixed bag, with some being rather lacklustre while others are excellent. Some of the highest rated are Ipswich School, Ipswich High School and Northgate High School. There are two main options for further education: Suffolk New College and One, a sixth-form college rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Transport is very good. The A12 and A14 roads run nearby the city. Ipswich is well-connected by rail, with two stations (the main Ipswich station and the smaller Derby Road). The town is on the main Norwich to London rail line, with a commute time of less than one-and-a-half hours, as well as the line to the coastal town of Lowestoft. Ipswich is also on the Felixstowe branch line, allowing access to various stops in Suffolk. There are direct bus services from Ipswich to London and other UK towns and cities. Ipswich has a good local bus network.
Social life in Ipswich is vibrant and very active. The large student population means that there are plenty of inexpensive pubs and clubs to visit in the evenings. More refined entertainment includes the numerous wine bars and eateries in the city. There is plenty of entertainment, including two major cinemas and two theatres. Sports fans will appreciate the presence of a major football team with its own stadium in the town.
Is Ipswich a good place to work?
The average wage in Ipswich is quite low — just over £24,000 as compared to the national average of £29,000.
That said, this figure represents the high number of people in lower-paid and part-time jobs in the area. It does not reflect a lack of rewarding and well-compensated opportunities.
It is worth noting that Ipswich’s unemployment rate is rather higher than England as a whole and significantly higher than the county of Suffolk. Candidates with the right skills and qualifications can easily find work here but if you face any potential obstacles — age, education etc. — you should try to secure a job offer before you think about relocating.
The majority of jobs are in three sectors: manufacturing, financial services (particularly insurance), and telecommunications. Most of the manufacturing work is in connection with the agriculture industry, as you would expect from the county town of Suffolk. Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Ltd, a noted agricultural equipment manufacturer, is located in Ipswich and provides significant employment in the area. The telecommunications industry is heavily represented thanks to the presence of Adastral Park (formerly The British Telecom Research Laboratories). Several major insurance providers, including Willis, LV, Legal & General, Churchill and Axa, are also big employers in Ipswich.
Is Ipswich a good place to buy a house?
Yes, Ipswich is a very good place to look for a new home or an investment property. Prices in town are very cheap when compared against the rest of Suffolk; compared to, say, London, property is almost laughably cheap.
The average price for a house in Ipswich is around £233,000. Be aware that there are significant price differences between neighbourhoods so it’s well worth shopping around. The most expensive properties are located in the very centre of town and especially around the waterfront area. Outside of these highly desirable spots, property prices drop fairly precipitously — until one reaches the picturesque outlying suburbs, where prices ramp up again.
A one-bedroomed house will cost something in the region of £101,000. A three-bedroom house costs around £236,000 and a large five-bedroom family property will probably set you back somewhere in the region of £425,000.
Rents are also very cheap. The average rent for a home in Ipswich is £685 pcm. For a one-bedroom home you can expect to pay around £425 pcm. A three-bedroom home is £800 pcm, while a five-bedroom property rents for around £990 pcm.
Is Ipswich a good place to retire?
Suffolk as a whole is generally regarded as a good place to retire, with a high overall quality of living for retirees. Ipswich in particular does have some plus points, although being a university town tends to skew the demographic towards the younger end. There are several very attractive retirement developments, including plenty of purpose-built properties. Most retirement properties in Ipswich are flats, with a much smaller stock of detached and semi-detached houses available (chiefly outside the town centre).
Prices vary significantly depending on the type and location of the property, with one-bedroom flats starting at around £50,000 and multi-bedroom detached properties going for £450,000 or £500,000. £90,000 is an average price for a one-bedroom flat. Three-bedroom retirement properties are unusual but go for around £200,000. There are few larger retirement properties available; expect to pay at least £450,000 for a four or five-bedroom property.
Renting retirement properties in Ipswich is fairly inexpensive, depending on the level of care and the location. You can rent a studio or one-bedroom flat for around £550 pcm. Larger retirement properties are uncommon in the Ipswich rental market; that said, you can always rent a standard three-bedroom home for around £800 pcm, or a standard five-bedroom property for approximately £990 pcm.
Is Ipswich a good place to visit?
Ipswich makes a good destination if you’re interested in history or enjoy visiting museums and art galleries. The town’s main landmarks include a number of medieval churches, including St. Mary-le-Tower; the Town Hall, a listed building; and The Ancient House, a 15th-century building that now houses a number of shops. Fans of unusual modern architecture will want to visit the Willis Building, a striking black glass structure affectionately nicknamed “the grand piano” by locals.
Activities include regular guided walking tours of the town, boat trips on the River Orwell, and tours of Portman Road football stadium. The town’s two theatres — the New Wolsey Theatre and the Regent Theatre — are worth visiting both for the performances they host and as fascinating buildings in their own right.
Families with children might enjoy a day out at Aqua Park Suffolk, located close to Ipswich. Children are often fascinated by Ipswich Museum, with its incredible variety of animal specimens. Ipswich Crown Pools is also a popular destination for families. Older children might enjoy a visit to Superbowl UK Ipswich, which offers ten-pin bowling, pool and other amusements.
Ipswich has a number of large parks, offering pleasant green spaces and various activities depending on the time of year. Orwell Park is located next to the River Orwell and offers pleasant waterfront strolls. Christchurch Park offers games and sports, as well as a very well-equipped play area for children.
Ipswich is a good spot for a short break. There are plenty of options for accommodation, with lodgings including inexpensive but comfortable chain hotels and luxurious waterfront suites. Visitors with a taste for the cool and quirky can find various boutique hotels and hostels in and around the town centre. Those who prefer a more rural break might enjoy a self-catering apartment on the outskirts of the town — the perfect base camp for long country walks. Jump to top
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.