The best places to live in Essex offer lush countryside, transport links to London, a good work-life balance and good schools. Contrary to the bland TOWIE image attached to the county, three beautiful Essex towns now top the prestigious Sunday Times list of the best places to live in Britain in 2020.

It’s easy to see why everyone is looking for the best places in Essex to move. Surrounded by beautiful countryside and woodland, Essex is home to many famous and successful independent restaurants and businesses, as well as the sunniest coastline in the UK. Furthermore, Essex is only half an hour by train from London from some areas, making it an ideal place to travel to the city by train.

Cover: Martin Pettit

Find the best accommodation in Essex

streets picture book (photo: Martin Pettitte)

Everyone move to Essex! Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright have just bought a £1.3 million mansion, just around the corner from their friend Ollie Meurs. Stacey Solomon and Mrs. The Hinches have the cleanest homes in town, and even Rod Stewart fled Los Angeles to his £5 million house in Essex to avoid a pandemic.

After Covid-19 forced many people to work from home, a wave of Londoners sought refuge in a suburb with more space to work and play and easy access to the city. Essex measures all the boxes and people start rolling. According to the Office for National Statistics, nearly 100 people a day have moved from London to Essex since 2019.

The best of both worlds

Ingatestone, Epping and West Mersea have been named by The Times as the best places to live in Essex in 2020 and in the top 10 most liveable towns in the UK. Miles Shipside, real estate expert at Rightmove, says residents are looking for a new, quieter lifestyle with an abundance of beautiful scenery and more open space. Home-based workers who are likely to keep their current jobs may be able to reduce commuting and create a home-based job. Indeed, parts of Essex are in London boroughs, and the county is served by three London Underground lines (Central, Victoria and District), as well as overhead and mainline services.

There are some nice art deco stations in Essex (photo : R~P~M).

Being from Essex, I can confirm that it is beautiful there and that Essex was one of the best places to live. It was high on our list when we sold our house in North London during the first closing of 2020. Buying in Essex can be a great investment, offering the benefits of being on the edge of town. Based on a combination of factors including London accessibility, quality of life, investment and family priorities, here are the top five places to live in Essex:

5 of the best places to move to in Essex:


The picturesque walk of maldon (Image: Hornbeam art)

Maldon is a historic town situated at the mouth of the Blackwater River near Chelmsford. The town remains best known for its main export, Maldon Sea Salt, which has become a cult product worldwide, selling 50 million boxes annually. But the picturesque Essex town is back on the map, ranked fifth in the UK for quality of life. It’s a quiet place, with a main street made up of local shops and charity shops and very few big chains. Gradually, trendy cafes and delis appeared among the fruit and vegetable vendors and tea rooms, marking a modern change in the neighborhood.

For those coming from London, Maldon may not be the best place to be as it does not have its own train station. Trains to the city depart from the nearby town of Ouidam and take 45 minutes. But with more and more professionals preferring to work from home, Maldon may be the unpolished haven you’ve been looking for. If you’re into vintage, there are over 80 landmark Georgian and Victorian buildings that offer the opportunity to renovate Instagram-worthy homes. Maldon used to have a reputation for offering a more retired lifestyle, but with young couples and families flocking to the area, this won’t be the case much longer.

The average price of a three bedroom semi-detached property in Maldon is around £300,000.

Dedham Vale

LocationCountry Constable in Essex (Image: JR P)

Dedham Vale – Constable land. The area was famous for the 19th century artist John Constable. It is as perfect today as it was 200 years ago. It was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1970, but Dedham Vale has always been beautiful. In our article on the best days out in Essex, we highlight Dedham Vale as a wonderful place to visit, but the town is also a popular place to move to.

The Guardian describes Dedham Vale as almost interchangeable, if work on the one hand and heaven on the other is worth the slog, and in the case of Dedham Vale that’s as true as it gets. The nearest station is Manningtree and the train journey to London Liverpool Street takes 60 minutes.

If you want to spend a weekend strolling along the quiet shores and enjoying the luxuries of life in the lower Stour Valley, it’s worth rushing to town at every turn. And if circumstances have changed and you work from home more than you used to, Dedham Vale is probably one of the best places to live in Essex. These include two Michelin-starred restaurants, the famous Tiptree Tea Room and the 16th-century Marlborough Pub. Century, which has the greatest investment potential if you act quickly. Oh, and it’s so beautiful that people like to pretend it’s in Suffolk. Well, it’s not, so here goes. Essex for the win.

The average price of a 3 bedroom house in Dedham Vale is around £400,000.

Best places to live in Essex

Teydon Bois, Epping

Autumn colours in Epping Forest (photo: Spice Green)

Living in a suburb and taking the subway to work sounds like a utopia, but the reality is there, and you’ll find it at the end of the Central Line. Theydon Bois is a friendly village surrounded by 2,000 acres of ancient Epping Forest. Forest walks, horseback riding, tree swinging and mountain biking are the favorite weekend activities. On the way back, stop at the local bagel bar, which serves hot meals throughout the village and always has a queue. In summer, the picturesque village meadow hosts many events, including the Donkey Derby, which is a highlight of the community calendar.

Theydon Bois (pronounced boys) is part of Epping, which was recently named one of the ten best places to live in Britain by The Times. Epping itself is just one tube station away and has a lively street full of independent shops and cafes, as well as a bustling weekly market. The village of Teydon is just a five minute drive or ten minute bike ride from Epping, meaning residents can enjoy village life with all the benefits of a small town just down the road. The village is also just 25 minutes by tube from Stratford Westfield, meaning it really does have everything. However, the best of all worlds tends to sell for a premium, with homes selling for much more than the other best places to live in Essex on this list. Here, owners are generally looking less for an investment property than for a forever home.

The average price of a three bedroom semi-detached property in Theydon Bois is £850,000.

Related post: The best places to pick strawberries in Essex.

West Mersey (Mersey Island)

Rainbow beach huts (Image: ultraBoban)

If pristine, natural beaches and candy-coloured beach huts are a dream scenario, wake up and enjoy the delights of Mersea Island. Covering 8 square miles and located on the Blackwater and Colne estuaries southeast of Colchester, this small waterfront town has much to offer.

The community is a big event, with local bands, events, dinners, clubs and festivals all year round. Tourists come especially for the Mersea Island Food, Drink & Leisure Festival, which celebrates local oysters and wines. But for the most part, the island is a quiet seaside resort with plenty of good pubs. Being on the water is an essential element: Sailing and fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking and wilderness boating are the most popular activities of the past.

There is no doubt that this island is London’s potential residential paradise, but those coming to the city should be prepared for the journey. Colchester is the nearest train station, requiring a 20-minute drive during rush hour. Then a 45-minute train ride to London Liverpool Street. At high tide, cars cannot pass through Stroud, the only road leading to the island. It usually only takes an hour or two a day, but it’s always an inconvenience when you just want to go home and rest. For example, there is also a primary school on Mercy Island, but high school students have to take a 45-minute bus ride to school in Colchester, which is not for everyone.

Living at beautiful West Mercea would suit a couple working nearby (or from home), or a young family wanting a slice of beach life, with the occasional trip to town if needed. The average price of a two bedroom villa in West Merse is around £400,000 and a two bedroom apartment with sea views is around £450,000.


Nice houses and friendly locals (Photo: Martin Pettit)

With the nearby towns of Brentwood and Chelmsford often getting all the attention, it’s easy to forget that Ingatestone and Fryerning exist. Yet this Saxon village is a hidden gem and one of the best places to live in Essex for a good work-life balance.

Besides the fact that the historic houses and cottages are a perfect picture, there is always a lot to do in this area, where most of the events take place. Where other towns and villages (ahem, Brentwood) have fallen victim to the impressive lifestyle of TOWIE, Ingatestone has invested in local events and sports organisations, sustained itself and become an enviable place on the Essex property map. The High Street is famous for its local businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants and there is always someone around for a friendly chat. Nearby are fields ideal for dog walking and picnics, a 900 year old church and a series of working windmills built in the 1800s. There’s not much to do here, but for nightlife and shopping, locals can head to the trendy town of Billericay (5km away).

The city has its own train station and is just 30 minutes by train from Liverpool Street, which is ideal for those travelling to London for work. A three-bedroom villa in Ingeston is worth around £700,000.


The best Christmas markets in Essex.

The best family days out in Essex.

Where can you find the most delicious afternoon tea in Essex?

Best places to pick fruit and strawberries in Essex

Pick your own pumpkin in Essex.

25 questions for the London Quiz

There are lots of things to do for little ones in London.

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