What are the Best Places to Live in Essex?

Essex is one of the most diverse counties in England, and it’s also home to some of the best towns to live in all of the UK. Our favourites include Colchester, Chelmsford, Basildon, Saffron Walden, Dedham Vale, and Purfleet. From countryside living to city life – Essex towns have it all!

In Essex, you’ll find many different types of communities. We’ve compiled a list of the six best places to live in Essex that are great for any lifestyle and have something exceptional about them.

1. Basildon

Housing In Basildon

Basildon is known for its housing and industry. It’s an exciting mix because the city used to be mainly residential, but now it’s got more of a commercial hub.

It’s situated close enough to London for convenience and surrounded by the beautiful Essex countryside so you can escape into nature any time you like.

The earliest inhabitants were Anglo-Saxons, and this was their settlement of Basilea, which they named after a woman called Basila who founded it in 654 AD.

As time progressed, new civilizations discovered and settled here, including Normans, Romans, and Vikings. I could go on!


You’ll find plenty of amenities in Basildon, like great secondary schools and churches with high historical value. One of our favourite places is Basildon Market Square, where you can get everything from fresh fish to vintage clothes! 

Only 45 minutes to London Liverpool Street

The town of Basildon is a great commuter town. A train journey to London’s Liverpool Street station typically takes only around 45 minutes and has easy access to the M25 for those who love living close to work.

Housing price

The average price of a home in Basildon is around £250,000. This is lower than the national average cost. 

The town has also been slow to recover from recession due to its proximity to London which would typically attract more buyers looking for affordable housing.

If you’re looking for somewhere that isn’t too crowded but still lively enough, then Basildon could be one the best places to live in Essex!

2. Colchester

Housing In ColchesterIt’s close enough to London, but not a large commuter town and, of course, away enough from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The town of Colchester is located in northeast Essex and has been around for over 2,000 years. The name derives from “Colonia”, meaning settlement, and referring to its Roman roots as an outpost or trading post on the River Colne. Which once ran through what was then marshland between two hills – hence ‘Col-cester’.


You will find the best food, art, and culture in this small town. Some of the highlights include The Colchester Castle Museum. That is home to an extensive collection of Roman artefacts and the White Hart Theatre, where you can catch a show or enjoy dinner while enjoying views of this historic city.

And let’s not forget the Colchester Zoo, home to various animals, including giraffes, zebras, and flamingos.

One of the unique landmarks is Colchester Castle, located on top of a hill within the town’s centre. It was built for the King between 1207-1214 AD by Earl Johnby William and retained its defensive use until World War II when it became an army headquarters from 1939-’45.

The castle offers beautiful views over centuries-old cobbled streets below where you can see Saint Mary at one end, founded in 1080AD by Robert Bloet Bishop.

Average house price

The housing market presents a wide range of options to suit every budget. The housing price average in Colchester is £270,000. However, this figure varies depending on the type of house you are looking for.

The average cost for a semi-detached house is £320,000, and an apartment is £180,000. 

Colchester is one of the best places to live in Essex and a unique and personal favourite.

3. Purfleet

Housing In PurfleetWith around 6,000 people, this town has a fascinating history worth checking out if you’re visiting or living in this area.

Some historic buildings here date back to Tudor times, including St Mary’s Church, dating back to 1269!

The modern-day Purfleet has as much support for the arts as it does for sport. The local football club FC Purfleet is known locally and has a loyal following of fans who regularly attend matches.

Location, location, location!

Set in the midst of a lush, Purfleet has many green spaces, and it’s just a short distance from North London.

This small city is one of those attractive commuter towns with plenty to offer and easy access. Being only a 45 minutes train journey from London Liverpool Street station makes it an ideal location if you’re a commuter and want to live in Essex.

Finding the right home

The housing market in Purfleet can be challenging to navigate because it holds a wide variety of properties, from newly built flats to period homes.

You can find both apartments and houses in the area with prices starting at just £150,000. Plus, there are many ongoing developments, so there’s no worry about how old they are!

Purfleet is not a seaside town like West Mersea, which means it’s not a popular, crowded tourist destination. Here you can enjoy a calm environment with the plus of its proximity to London, and the excellent transport links make it worth checking out.

4. Saffron Walden

Housing In Saffron WaldenThis ancient, historic market town nestled in the heart of Essex and on the banks of the River Cam has a rich history dating back to Roman times.

The place was first mentioned by name as ‘Saffronwaldin’ in 1121 when it became home to a Benedictine monastery. 

Great local community

The current town’s population exceeds 10,000 people, and it is known for its fantastic shopping opportunities, artisan food producers, and cafés.

The Sunday Times Magazine has ranked the town as one of the Best Places to Live in Britain.

A town that looks like a fairy tale, Saffron Walden is the perfect destination for those looking to escape. Unwind in one of its many beautiful gardens and experience an English-style tea party with small sandwiches from its local businesses.

No matter what time of year or day, this quaint town feels just right.

The town is trendy for its proximity to central London and for being one of the best commuter towns with fantastic road links to Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

With an average house price standing at £176,000 and average property taxes below £1,200 per year, it’s no wonder that this town has been voted one of the best places to live in Essex.

5. Chelmsford

Housing In ChelmsfordChelsmford is a picturesque town with many medieval buildings and museums. English Heritage designated it as a site of national importance for its historical value. The city also hosts an annual carnival festival every July called “Chelmsfords Carnival”. 

Receiving city status in 1966, Chelmsford is the third most populous town in Essex, and it’s one of the “Constable country” towns.

The town of Chelsmford is also close to the M11, A14, and is an hour’s average journey time from London.

A big employer is a big pro.

The city also has some big employers like General Electric which means there are plenty of jobs for those who want them!  

Another plus side? The town boasts excellent state schools too, so you can rest assured your children will be well educated no matter where they’re living.

Essex County Council operates all public education services within Chelmsford City as required by law. Including free pre-school childcare provision for three to four-year-olds.

A fair amount of things to do

It’s got all the amenities you could ever want in an English city, including its bustling Bond Street area full of shops and restaurants for every taste. There are always plenty of things for a young family to do here! 

Chelmsford has an average house price of around £259,000, and a starter home costs an average price of £170,000.

6. Dedham Vale

Housing In Dedham ValeWhen you think of those perfect British smaller towns, the chances are that Dedham Vale is at least on your list.

The quaint village with a local community of only 3,700 was ranked as one of England’s most desirable places to live and work in recent surveys by Ipsos MORI and Lloyds Bank Wealth Management.

The stunning Dedham Vale was a region in Essex that became the wealthiest area of England. All this fortune and wealth came from house prices, which skyrocketed because it sat on an important trade route between London and Norwich.

Dedham became well known after the painting by John Constable, ‘The Cornfield’.

Dedham Vale is often considered one of England’s most beautiful counties. It boasts rolling hillsides dotted by sheep grazing on meadows like scenes from paintings come alive! But surprisingly enough, housing prices are affordable here – even at lower levels than London or Cambridge!

Outstanding natural beauty

Even if you don’t want to move there right away, Dedham is a beautiful place to visit on the weekends. Inside its borders are beautiful forests and rolling hills that stretch out for miles, the perfect spot for mountain biking lovers.

The locals have preserved their outstanding natural beauty with a simple touch. Farms dotting the countryside provide fresh milk from happy cows grazing in green spaces, almost like Hylands park all year round!

Inside Dedham Vale’s border lies a picturesque ancient woodland and sprawling hills stretching as far as you can see.

This rural haven has been kept pure by residents who farm peacefully within its boundaries- providing freshly harvested produce yearly!

Housing market

The town has recently seen an influx of money as new developers move to the area. The increase in adverts enables local businesses to lead to more housing developments. That is resulting in increased property prices and pushing out longtime residents who can no longer afford it.

The only downside could be the high demand for housing in Dedham Vale; prices are soaring at the moment. The average house price is £600.000, with a median price of over £400.000.

If you feel you’re the right “target audience”, we vote for Dedham Vale as one of the best places to live in Essex.Best Places In Essex


What is the richest part of Essex?

The wealthiest part of Essex is Chelmsford, which offers stunning homes and areas with luxurious features like pools or tennis courts. Together with private schools for children who could not attend other public ones nearby due to safety concerns.

Is Essex a wealthy area?

There has never been any evidence of poverty within the boundaries of Essex. Economic growth, low crime rates, and great schools are some of Essex’s characteristics.

Is Essex county a good place to live?

This question has no easy answer, and there are many pros and cons to consider. One pro of living in Essex county is its proximity to London, making it an attractive city as its population grows.

What is Essex famous for?

Essex, England, is famous for its rich literary history and beautiful old buildings.

Essex was the birthplace of several famous writers. Examples like: John Bunyan (born in 1628), author of The Pilgrim’s Progress; Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), who wrote Robinson Crusoe; Thomas Paine (1737-1809), whose writings helped start the American Revolution.

Which is better, Kent or Essex?

Kent has a long history of textiles and animal farming. But, of course, it’s known for its famous White Cliffs coastlines too! 

Essex might be best if you’re looking to enjoy all the benefits of the countryside with nature reserves that include Epping Forest and RSPB Leighton Moss.

About The Author
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Anthony King

I'm Anthony King, founder and CEO of Transport Executive. I've spent the last 5 years writing, taking care of my dogs, and enjoying life as it should be. I'm also a beer enthusiast by trade and a wine connoisseur. You can learn more about me and the company here.