Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Essex: The Best Place to Live in Britain?

Wild garlic in an Essex woods
Wild garlic in an Essex woods

Great Britain is one of the top destinations for expats; American expats alone number at least 155,000 in Britain at any one time. Your choice of where to live will most likely be determined by your job, or if you’re moving to be with a British partner they may already have settled in one area. If your location is predetermined then you won’t be disappointed because Britain has many fantastic places to live: beautiful coastlines, ancient forests, wild moors, farmland lined with hedgerows and fascinating cities, including one of the best cities in the world, London.

However, if you have a choice of where to set up home while in Britain one of the best places to choose is Essex. Essex is a county to the east of London. As with most counties, it is a mix of all kinds of people, but Essex is especially popular with the City workers, the people who work in Finance in the City of London. This is because most places in Essex provide very easy access into the City.

Essex also has many features that make it an ideal place for an expat who wishes to make the most of their experience living abroad, including quick transport links to London, all London airports, and Eurostar. Also, driving to other parts of Britain is easy with links to main motorways.

Essex lifestyle and culture has the best mix in Britain. Within an hour and a half at the most you can be sitting down at a Michelin star restaurant, London theatre, events and shows, as well as concert venues and world famous sports grounds. Because of its location, Essex also has a fascinating history: Celtic, Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman, Tudor, even American. In 2012 Essex will be best situated for access to the main Olympic venues.

Well-known artists Constable and Gainsborough chose the Essex countryside for many of their landscapes. Essex has the least amount of rain in Britain, which makes outdoor activities more accessible. The ancient forests, country parks, interesting coastlines, and many miles of walking, cycling and horse riding paths provide plenty of opportunity for the active residents. For people moving with families, Essex boasts excellent schools (both free and fee-paying), including schools with the International Baccalaureate.

Many well known personalities have chosen to live in Essex, including Clive Owen (actor), Frank Bruno (boxer), Prodigy and Depeche Mode (bands), Germaine Greer (author), Barbara Erskine (writer), Martina Cole (writer), Tony Benn (politician), Jamie Oliver (TV Chef) and many others. Pop star Leona Lewis has recently shown an interest in an Essex property because of the beautiful location and it’s excellent transport links.


21 thoughts on “Essex: The Best Place to Live in Britain?

  1. I’m not entirely sure Essex deserves that much praise…! It has some nice areas, but it isn’t fabulous. I know from experience. Surrey, Kent and Sussex are great for access to London and natural beauty, too.

  2. In response both to this article and ‘Limey’ I agree that Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Suffolk are all beautiful counties with much to offer, although none of the aforementioned have received such bad press as Essex.

    Essex is a wonderful county with much to offer in the way of food, drink and scenic countryside. In addition, the fast train links to London provide easy access to our wonderful capital, although a quick get away home from all of the bustle.

    Where ever I roam – Essex will always be my home.

  3. Limey–The thing about Essex is that it has a bit of everything, including easier standard of living than the more popular Surrey, Kent and Sussex. And access to the rest of Britain is just that wee bit easier as well. On balance, with all factors considered, I maintain it’s the best place to choose!

    EssexGourmet–I think there’s probably something very special and beautiful about most counties in Britain but it’s good to see that a native agrees with my expat assessment on Essex!

    1- I AM A MUSLIM .


  5. NABEEL KHALAF, we dont want your sort in essex. there are thriving muslim communities in birmingham and other low class cities.

  6. Thanks alot Mr.Hoskins for ur warm welcome.
    Fortunately, I have moved to Austria-Vienna and thanks god that Uk was not my choice after UK was ranked as worst place to live and work in Europe.

  7. i’m a married white mother of three looking to move my family to london from a suburb outside of atlanta, ga, and hoping the UK is not full of ignorant bigots like jamie hoskins! nabeel…hope you have found a happy and safe home for your family. i know people like jamie exist everywhere…but here’s hoping we don’t cross paths with them often;)

  8. Wow. I am surprised and sad that jamie felt like adding his inappropriate and woefully ignorant remarks to this article.

    I feel very fortunate to have lived in Essex for 10 years and have completely enjoyed living here! It is certainly very friendly towards Americans–I have never once heard a negative remark about Americans as I did from time to time in London. Although I am a white American, I have Asian friends (Christian, Hindu and Muslim) as well as Jewish friends in Essex. I haven’t heard any of them mention racism, thankfully.

    I wonder what people in Birmingham would think of being called ‘low class’ ?? Crazy. And sad.

    Mandy–looking forward to hearing how your move goes!

  9. In my honest opinion Essex is a tip & full of chavs. There are a ‘few’ nice areas but these are too pricey. Too many council estates, roads & bimbos. Try Sussex to the South or Suffolk to the East (of London that is).

  10. Oh no! Its such a shame that you think that Harry, as there are chavs, bimbos, roads and council estates in every county. Also, as with most counties Essex certainly has it’s bleak areas–the southern part of the county is less pleasant than the northern 2/3. As for house prices, recent figures state the more expensive prices outside of London are in the counties immediately to the west of London (Essex is to the east for readers unfamiliar with its location).

    However, the assessment of Essex as a good location was based on many factors, including easy access to other areas of the country (and world) and London, education, sports facilities and access to nature. As the article is not aimed at UK nationals, but at expats who will very likely work in or near London, who most likely will want to travel while living in the UK, and who may have families, the factors used for this article suggest Essex as the best all-round county for an expat.

    Sussex and Suffolk are indeed very beautiful counties, but lack the all-round appeal for many expats living in the UK.

  11. I am a black mother of 2 daughters with an interest in moving Essex. I’m trying to get some feed back on the demographics and schools. The girls are 4 & 6 years old


  12. Hi Teonnae,

    Areas like Chelmsford, Colchester, and Brentwood probably have the greatest variety of people and education choices. Closer into London and the variety of people and educational choices increases. Hope this helps!

  13. I moved to Essex last year,i live near Southend-On-Sea which i like as it’s near the sea etc. Great views and cleaner air. However i have been struggling to find work,and am experinced and well spoken. It may be due to the overall economic picture. Good luck if moving.

  14. hi, my family are planning on moving to essex as my dads business is based here. I am from a small town in northern ireland which is very quiet. I am just wondering would it be hard adjusting to the life over there? I dont know much about it but am excited as it will be a change, but nervous also!

  15. essex is the best place in the world and i love it its not all doom and gloom it has its nice parts such as here in epping the women restaraunts and bars are great we all like to drive around in flash cars we work for it schools leisure nitelife is great and i most definately would not go back to north london we are not snobs just like nice things and a blast around the county in my new golf gti is a pleasure minus the speed traps long live essex its great

  16. I think a lot of people are mixing up Essex with the out lying London boroughs that include Romford, Dagenham and Ilford – an easy mistake as these places still have the Essex address under the archaic Royal Mail delivery system. And yes, these places are very grim. However, outside of the M25 Essex is a lovely place and I would recommend it to anyone.

  17. Hi everybody,

    I am going to do an MA at the uni of Essex and would like to know if 2000p. a month would be enough for accommodation and for living a moderate life. By the way, I am single.

    Thanks eveybody

  18. Hi, i’m thinking of moving to Essex from Bournemouth.

    I work in I.T, first or second line support.

    Whats the best area of Essex to move to for the following?

    Good employment for IT workers
    Good weekend nightlife
    Nice restaurants
    Good gyms and parks for running
    Younger demographic

    Many thanks


  19. I honestly think people should mind the way they throw comments. @Jamie Hoskins is it that you naturally lack manners or your just bored and looking for a way to stir things up? Anyways I have never been to the Uk. Really need advice on best schools in nice cities, sofar am trying to choose between uni of Cardiff, uni of Essex, uni of sheffield, uni of Glasgow and uni of Derby.

  20. Romford, Dagenham, & Ilford do not have Essex addresses. If you check on the Royal Mail website you will see that the word Essex does not feature in the finished article of any postal address from those 3 towns.
    As Bob stated these towns are in London Boroughs.
    Romford is in the London Borough of Havering.
    Dagenham is in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
    Ilford is in the London Borough of Redbridge.
    These Boroughs form part of East London.
    The County of Essex is to the east and north east of London. If anymone does get confused as to where London stops and Essex begins this simple rule should help: Anywhere within a London Borough is London and cannot be in Essex or any other Home County.

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