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Moving to… Dorchester

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Embrace West Country living in Dorchester, which is officially one of the happiest places to live in Britain. And it’s easy to see why this buzzing county town of Dorset has happy residents: there are shops aplenty, both chain and independent, restaurants with international cuisines and local countryside surroundings to bask in. Thinking about moving to Dorchester? But not sure what’s it like living in this quaint town day-to-day? That’s what we’re finding out with our area guide of Dorchester. 

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A brief history of Dorchester

After defeating the Durotriges tribe, The Romans established a garrison in Dorchester and built an amphitheatre. However, after the departure of the Romans, the town paled into insignificance until the medieval period, when it became an important political and commercial centre.  

Where is Dorchester?

Dorchester is a county town of Dorset in South West England. It’s a historic market town set on the banks of the River Frome and lies to the south of the Dorset Downs and north of the South Dorset Ridgeway. 

Moving to Dorchester

There are many different types of houses here. You will find charming Victorian homes in the town centre, while 50s and 60s houses are located by the bypass. If you’re looking for something chic, try the loft-style apartments found in Brewery Square. 

Buying in Dorchester

The average house value in Dorchester is £350,216, with paid prices only very slightly higher at £352,437. Expect to pay around £501,835 for a detached home, £283,751 for a terraced house and £182,653 for an apartment.

Dorchester property prices are considerably higher than the UK national average of £251,000. Over the last 12 months, house prices have increased by four per cent and by 14 per cent in the last five years. 

There’s a varied selection of estate and letting agents in Dorchester, with chain and independent options available to help you find a home. 

Renting in Dorchester

One-bedroom homes rent for an average of £600 per month in Dorchester, with two-bedroom properties fetching in the region of £950 per month. For larger homes, expect to pay an average of £1,125 per month. 

Cost of living

If you’re moving to Dorchester, you can expect to pay slightly higher costs than the UK national average when it comes to everyday living. A meal for one person is around £15, which is £3 more expensive than the UK average. A cappuccino is about £3, and one litre of milk is £1.50p.  

Utility bills, however, are considerably more affordable than the nationwide average. Electricity, heating, cooling, water and waste disposal cost an average of £80. They are around £75 cheaper than the national average. Broadband is higher than the average, however, at around £46 per month. 

Life in Dorchester

Dorchester is a quaint market town full of culture and plenty of things to see and do. And here’s a wealth of open spaces for you to discover if you feel like leaving the town settings to explore the great outdoors.

Open spaces

Wander the coast, which is just seven miles away, and explore local beaches and nearby villages in and around Dorchester. You can also visit a range of parks, nature reserves and woodland in Dorset. 

Transport links

Dorchester has two stations; Dorchester South, which goes to Weymouth, Bournemouth and London, and Dorchester West with its services to Bath and Bristol. The popular town of Weymouth is just a 15-minute drive from Dorchester. 


Head to Brewery Square, a vibrant area with a range of retail delights and food options. There are also plenty of independent shops and boutiques to discover in and around the town.


Whether you’re after chain favourites like Cote or popular independent spots, Dorchester has plenty of restaurants, it has an authentic Japanese eatery, and there is a modern spot serving up some seriously good burgers. 


Enjoy a variety of local bars and pubs in Dorchester. If you’re looking for somewhere to dance until the early hours of the morning, try nearby Weymouth or spend a weekend in Bournemouth, which is just under 30 miles away. 

Art & culture

Check out the Dorchester Art Gallery in Brewery Square for modern works that you can buy and hang on your wall. If you’re a culture vulture, try the Dorset Museum, which showcases 250-million years’ worth of Dorset history. 

Things to do

Visit Hardy’s Cottage in nearby Higher Bockhampton. Run by the National Trust, it’s a historic celebration of English author Thomas Hardy. Wander inside the cottage and discover all about Hardy’s life.

What’s not to like?

Some may argue that the current regeneration in the area brings down the older style that so many find appealing. 

Who lives there?

Dorchester has a population of just over 19,000 and a median age of 46. 

Typical broadband speeds

The average broadband speed is 35mbps in Dorchester, which is lower than the UK national average of 67mbps.

Crime rates

Crime rates in Dorchester average 1,786 per year and are lower than the national average of 10,000.

Everything you need to know about moving to Dorchester

Get even more information about moving to Dorchester with Move iQ’s property report, which provides in-depth information on specific properties in the Dorset town, so you can get to know the area before you move there. It’s a fountain of knowledge with everything you need in one place!

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Last Updated: December 6th, 2022

Phil Spencer

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