Sitting in the heart of Essex, Chelmsford is famous for a lot more than being the home of TOWIE. From shopping to transport links, let’s put this city under a microscope. If you’re thinking of moving to Chelmsford, here’s everything you need to know.
History of Chelmsford
Chelmsford is Essex’s only city, granted this status to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. It’s also a county town, with residents lovingly dubbed ‘Chelmsfordians’.
It was previously ranked as the 8th best place to live by our founder Phil Spencer’s TV show Location, Location, Location.
Where is Chelmsford?
Located in the middle of Colchester and London, Chelmsford is in the East of England. It’s part of the London commuter belt, around 30 miles from Charing Cross and 22 miles from Colchester.
Average house prices
In 2020, the average house price in Chelmsford stood at £383,076, with the most popular properties being semi-detached.
To break this down further:
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Cost of living in Chelmsford
While it won’t claim any spots for the cheapest places to rent, rent in Chelmsford is, on average, 49% lower than in London. However, the cost of living is 3% higher than the rest of the UK.
Best places to live in Chelmsford
There are many different areas in Chelmsford, each with their own charms.
Found in the south east of Chelmsford, this area is popular with families thanks to the number of schools. It’s also home to 30 listed buildings.
No Simpsons here, but a wide range of properties can be found, from 1-bed flats to contemporary new builds. The area has largely been developed from the 1960s onwards.
The village of Writtle is a picturesque one, complete with a duck pond and Norman church. It’s a great place to live if you fancy being surrounded by rolling green countryside.
Broomfield sits on an Anglo-Saxon burial site, but it has plenty to offer modern-day living. This friendly village has some great transport links, connections and activities for its residents.
What to do in Chelmsford
Picture this Essex city and you might conjure up images of TOWIE, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In fact, it has something to offer everyone, from breathtaking architecture to plenty of green spaces.
That being said, the popular TV show definitely played a role in driving interest in the area and contributing to its popularity.
Chelmsford restaurants & bars
It’s fair to say you’re somewhat spoilt for choice here, Chelmsford is home to an array of cuisines from around the world.
Some worthy mentions include the Blue Strawberry Bistrot, a popular spot for a relaxing meal and a firm favourite among locals.
If it’s fine dining you’re after, the New London Restaurant & Lounge is a stylish restaurant with a seasonal menu and a great selection of cocktails. It’s also not a bad spot for a bottomless brunch (or so we’ve heard)…
Now, it’s safe to say Chelmsford locals are no strangers to a night out, so there are plenty of great places to go for a drink. The Bootmaker cocktail bar is known for its buzzy atmosphere and contemporary yet traditional cocktails. Meanwhile, the Wine Cellar Bar & Bistro is an intimate hideaway serving a little something for everyone.
Like New York, Chelmsford is home to its very own Central Park, a simply stunning place to explore (escaping the hustle and bustle while still in the city centre). It boasts incredible wildlife, riverside walks and is a great spot for a picnic too.
Hylands Park is another that deserves a mention, encompassing 574 acres of historic parkland. Whether you fancy a short stroll or a long walk, there are many routes to choose from.
Forget heading to London for your shopping needs, Chelmsford has it all.
It’s home to three main shopping centres: Meadows, Bond Street and High Chelmer. So, it’s safe to say residents can quite literally shop ‘til they drop. Chelmer Village retail park also features almost any shop you can think of, from fashion to electrics.
Bear in mind it’s not only the well-known high street giants on offer, but some independent stores and quirky boutiques too.
Good news – Chelmsford is a very well-connected area and has been popular with commuters for years. Within the city there’s a vast network of buses to get you wherever you need to go.
Getting from Chelmsford to London takes around 35 minutes, and you can get to London Liverpool Street direct.
It’s also only half an hour in the car to Stansted Airport or a 40-minute direct train. Plus, you’re only a stone’s throw away from Colchester!
Whether it’s art, culture or entertainment you want, Chelmsford ticks all the boxes. There’s everything from Essex County Cricket Club to a racecourse.
The city has a rich history just waiting to be explored, on display in a number of different museums. Hylands House is a Grade II listed building. There’s also a cathedral. If you’re a fan of concerts and shows, the Civic Theatre won’t disappoint.
There are plenty of spots off the beaten track that only the locals have knowledge of (until now)…
- Essex police museum
- Maison Bleu – an amazing tea room on the edge of a housing estate
- Hopsters – a must if you love beer
- Graces Lane – a dirt-track biking spot that offers great views
- The Leather Bottle – a lesser well-known pub
- Pleshey Castle – nothing much remains except sections of mote but it’s a great place to explore
- Church of Holy Trinity
Particularly if you love walking or cycling, residents can delight in discovering a variety of different exploration spots and hideaways.
Who lives there?
Chelmsford’s population is estimated to be around 174,100, making it the 108th most populated town in England.
Thanks to its excellent transport links, Chelmsford is hugely popular with commuters and first-time buyers. It’s more affordable than London, but offers many of the same perks.
However, thanks to the vast amount of good schools, it’s also home to many families. This applies to both primary schools such as Beaulieu Park and secondary schools like Sandon School.
When it comes to value, great local schools can significantly boost this. When preparing to buy a house, particularly if planning to live there for the long-term, schools can be something to look at.
What’s not to like?
Traffic, traffic, traffic. Good luck getting a parking spot in Moulsham Street is all we can say.
Typical broadband speed
Broadband speed is now a must when it comes to the criteria for the best places to live, as so many of us now work from home. Average speed is 27.79 Mbps, which is 11% below the UK average of 31.38 Mbps.
Average crime rate is 37.1 crimes reported per 1,000 per year. It’s the 25th highest crime rate out of 97 areas in England and Wales.
Thinking of moving to Chelmsford?
Local schools, crime rates, neighbourhood demographics…
You can find this information (and more) in a Move iQ property report. It will pull everything you need to know in one place, to give you an in-depth look at a property and its surrounding area. Get yours below.
Last Updated: November 2nd, 2021