Districts & Suburbs

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There is plenty of variety for house buyers, with large towns, convenient and well-connected suburbs and quiet rural areas. Essex has a population of around 1.7 million but while it is certainly a popular location with a number of very busy towns, there are many places, particularly in the north and east of the county, where large stretches of countryside and coast belie that fact.

Among some of the most notable targets for property seekers in Essex are:

Southend-on-Sea – Now no longer relying on tourism, Southend is a centre for retail and commercial business and the largest town in Essex. It has two rail lines to London, an airport that is currently being upgraded and some good schools. Nearby suburbs like Westcliff-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea and Thorpe Bay are particularly popular.

Colchester – The university and garrison town is located in the north-east of the county 60 miles from London, connected to the capital via the A12 and the East Anglia mainline railway that terminates in Norwich. Some of the county’s best secondary schools are located in the town. Popular locations on the outskirts include Wivenhoe and Manningtree.

Chelmsford – The county town of Essex is geographically right at its heart. It has numerous rail and road links to the rest of the county and beyond as well as excellent shopping, healthcare, leisure facilities and schools. Many property buyers are drawn to surrounding villages such as Galleywood, Great Baddow and Hatfield Peverel, or larger satellite towns, for example, Witham, Braintree and Ingatestone.

Basildon – Designated a “new town” to accommodate the overflow population from London in 1949, the town has a large shopping centre and rail connections to Southend and London, and is conveniently located between the A127 and A13 arterial roads to the capital. Notable outlying buying destinations include Langdon Hills, Wickford and Billericay.

Brentwood – A relatively small commuter town just outside the M25 orbital motorway, Brentwood is nevertheless a popular choice for homebuyers with a good rail connection to London and one of the county’s best schools.

Shenfield – Just east of Brentwood, Shenfield is another small commuter town, convenient for rail services to London, Southend, Chelmsford and East Anglia. It’s also going to be the eastern terminus for Crossrail, due for completion in 2017.

Braintree – Centrally located, to the north of Chelmsford, Braintree has expanded greatly over the past three decades. It benefits from a regular rail connection to London and the development of Braintree Freeport, a large retail park.

South Ockendon – Close to the M25 and Dartford Crossing, South Ockenden is convenient for the major retail sites at Thurrock and Bluewater (Kent) and the A13 arterial road.

Saffron Walden – An historic market town in the north-west of the county, Saffron Walden has some wonderfully preserved old buildings which have preserved the town’s character despite its expansion. Convenience for nearby Cambridge, Bishop’s Stortford and Stansted Airport, all via the M11, make it a well-connected rural base.


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