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Living in Chelmsford: The Local Area Guide

Chelmsford is a much sought-after residential area for many reasons. Firstly, it’s just a short drive or train ride away from London, making it ideal for commuters that want to set up home somewhere more affordable. Of course, Chelmsford is family-friendly too – with a great range of schools and amenities. The city also boasts a number of attractions and events, which only add to its charm. Considering all these things, it’s no wonder Chelmsford was voted as one of the best places to live by Channel 4 programme "Location, Location, Location".

The city itself is full of history, inhabited by the Romans in 60 AD. Around this time, the city was also named after Caesar (Caesaromagus), which was a great honour at the time. While snippets of the region’s history can still be found within the city, the vibe here is very much vibrant and on-trend. Residents can enjoy the best in shopping, dining, and nightlife, as well as top events – including the popular V Festival, which takes place during the penultimate weekend of August.


Demographic data was last recorded at the time of the 2011 census. At this time, the population stood at 168,310, with approximately 14% retired, 66% in employment and 3.4% unemployed. The employment levels here continue to be good thanks to the close proximity of London and the range of national and international companies within the city itself. In fact, the number of people commuting into the city for work almost balances with the number of people commuting into London.

The property landscape here is varied and prospective residents have a wide range of property types to choose from. There are waterside flats, overlooking the river and canal, Victorian two and three-bedroomed terraced homes, and some newer, detached properties. At the time of the 2011 census, nearly three quarters of the population owned their home outright or had a mortgage. This number is relatively high compared to other cities in Britain, where you’d usually find more rented properties.


Chelmsford boasts a number of good schools with a selection of grammar and independent schools. Private prep primary schools include St Anne’s, St Cedd’s and Elm Green – to name but a few. Widford Road School is the best option for those looking for nursery-age schooling – as it provides private education for pupils aged two and up. Other excellent primary schools in the region include The Tyrrells, Perryfield Juniors and Galleywood Infants.

The secondary school options in Chelmsford are just as impressive. The two grammar schools, King Edward VI Grammar School, a boys’ school, and Chelmsford County High School for Girls are two of the best performing state schools in the country, rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. It’s not just the grammar schools that are rated highly though; Chelmer Valley, which offers education to pupils aged 11-18, was also judged as “outstanding” by Ofsted in its latest inspection.


Chelmsford’s handy location means you get to enjoy all the perks of London, which is located just 30 miles away. The city itself is within a 15-minute drive of junction 28 on the M25 and offers good links to the A12. If you don’t fancy navigating your way through the busy London traffic, why not take advantage of Chelmsford’s fantastic railway service? Chelmsford Station offers up to six trains an hour bound for London, as well as regular services to Ipswich, Norwich, and Colchester.

For travel in and around the city, you can choose to drive or catch one of the local buses. Bus services are also available to Stansted Airport, approximately 30 minutes’ drive away. Other airports located nearby include Gatwick Airport and Heathrow, which both sit within two hours of the city.

Amenities and shopping

Chelmsford offers everything you’d expect from a major UK city. There are a variety of supermarkets, including Asda and Tesco, and a range of pubs, clubs, and restaurants. Residents can choose from independent eateries as well as popular chains, like Strada and Pizza Express. For evening entertainment and nightlife, head to Duke Street, Moulsham Street, and Baddow Road.

Shop ‘til you drop at one of the city’s two malls. Meadows is the newer of the two and boasts shops, cafes, eateries, and an Odeon. Alternatively, head to High Chelmer for even more high street favourites like River Island, JD Sports, and New Look.

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