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The 8 best places to live in Essex

The results are in! See where you voted as the best place to live in Essex.

Hugging 350 miles of blonde-beach coastline, Essex is home to a whopping 87 nature reserves, a buzzy cafe culture and ruins rich in Roman history (Colchester is, after all, Britain’s oldest recorded town). Short train hops into the capital are convenient, but you’ll soon relish life beyond London: swish spas, gourmet gastros and a labyrinth of salt marshes to kayak through on a sun-dappled morning come as standard here.

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5

Thaxted

Cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and thriving independent shops: Thaxted is an under-the-radar Essex gem with great commuter links.

6

Epping

Surrounded by acres of green space, you’d never know this market town is just 17 miles from the capital. Add an ancient forest, period charm, and its own tube station, and you’ve something special.

4

Colchester

Not just the oldest town in Britain but we reckon one of the best, thanks to good schools, theatres galore, award-winning park, plus its very own zoo, and all within easy reach of both the coast and the capital.

8

Ingatestone

Perfectly placed between Brentwood and Chelmsford, with its own rail station, Ingatestone is the picture-perfect combo of commuter town with a vibrant village feel and oodles of gorgeous indies, including a couple of Muddy Award winners.

Highlands House Estate Chelmsford
2

Chelmsford

Great schools, parks and, yes, shopping: Chelmsford remains one of the best places to live in Essex since gaining city status. Here's why.

best places to live Frinton-on-Sea
7

Frinton-on-Sea

Yes, immaculate swathes of blonde beach help, but there's a lot more to this upmarket seaside town than ice creams on the prom.

3

Leigh-on-Sea

Combining a buzzy cafe culture with Old Town charm, Leigh-on-Sea is one of the county's hippest property hotspots.

best places to live Saffron Walden
1

Saffron Walden

Cosy pubs, a medieval market town and more country walks than you can shake a wellie at. Here's how SW serves up a slice of the good life.

Best Places to Live national vote

Best Place to Live 2022 National Vote

We made our selection – now it’s time to have your say!

The results of the regional vote are in - and now it’s time to have your say on who should be crowned the ‘best of the best’! Check out the regional winners and VOTE IN THE NATIONAL FINAL by entering your email below.

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Ampthill - Bedfordshire

After a gorgeous market town, where you can't move for independent shops and restaurants? Ampthill may well be the one for you. This pretty riverside town has oodles of character, and great independents. and as they say, it's very much 'on the up' right now.

Newbury canal bridge

Newbury - Berkshire

Soak up the history, river location and period architecture, Newbury is a vibrant market town with a buzzy foodie scene and indie shops aplenty, that's just a stone's throw from open countryside.

Marlow

Marlow - Buckinghamshire

Well-heeled Marlow is a dead cert for city dwellers thanks to the super-speedy London commute, fabulous shopping and Michelin-starred foodie scene (courtesy of local boy Tom Kerridge).

Ely - Cambridgeshire

This fenland town has a lot going for it - direct trains to Cambridge and London, indies aplenty and of course the cathedral. Rolling hills there are not, but the flat, water-logged countryside has a strange kind of beauty you'll come to love.

Falmouth - Cornwall

This laid back, pretty waterside university town has an arty feel and has an attractive town centre, surrounded by beautiful Cornish countryside.

Topsham - Devon

Want a waterside location but without the tourists and schlep to the shops? Welcome to Topsham, an oh-so pretty, bijou town on the Exe estuary, less than five miles from the bright lights of Exeter.

best places to live Sherborne Dorset

Sherborne - Dorset

Picture postcard market town in north west Dorset with gorgeous medieval and Georgian properties, good schools, a magnificent abbey and not one but two castles.

best places to live Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden - Essex

Cosy pubs, a medieval market town and more country walks than you can shake a wellie at. Here's how SW serves up a slice of the good life.

houses

Cheltenham - Gloucestershire

Cheltenham Spa gives you one of the poshest postcodes in Glos, with top-drawer schools, leafy Regency streets and an arts, culture and shopping scene to rival the capital. Worthy of the weighty price-tag? Read on to find out.

Lymington

Lymington - Hampshire & IOW

Perched between the forest and the sea, Lymington is the best of both worlds when it comes to countryside living.

Hitchin - Hertfordshire

I'm just going to come out and and say it - I am in love with Hitchin. This super convenient commuter town has everything you could possibly want, and more.

Sevenoaks - Kent

Craving the rolling hills of rural west Kent but still want an easy commute into London and a busy social scene?. Sevenoaks could be just the ticket although – be warned – it’ll cost!

Market Harborough leicestershire

Market Harborough - Leicestershire & Rutland

Great shopping, beautiful buildings and a growing arts and culture scene, you'll be hard pushed to find a better place to live than this pretty market town plus, it's easy to head to the city when required..

Earls Barton - Northamptonshire

Looking for loft living but want to ditch the Shoreditch price tag? Welcome to Earls Barton where the legacy of the Northants shoe industry lives on in warehouse conversions and, for the wine lovers, there's even a local vineyard.

Norwich - Norfolk

With its indie shops, buzzy cultural scene and riverside walks Norwich is one of the UK's coolest cities with a radical history and vibrant future-facing energy.

Jericho - Oxfordshire

For those who're not quite ready to ditch city life Jericho is a happy middle ground - its foodie scene punches well above its weight, plus you're a stone's throw from central Oxford.

Langport - Somerset

Thriving laid back indies and a spirit to match on the edge of the Somerset Levels (and with the possible return of the railway it could be a good time to buy).

Godalming - Surrey

A pretty historic market town on the River Wey, with an impressive high street bulging with independents.

Southwold - Suffolk

Want to feel like you’re on holiday every day? Time to move to this scenic seaside town with fabulous architecture, great pubs, hot hotels, sandy bay and colourful beach huts.

Chichester - Sussex

Bright lights, cathedral city. The administrative capital of West Sussex is pastoral and quaint with fine dining galore and indie HQ Draper's Yard.

Henley-in-Arden - Warwickshire

The one-mile long High Street here is a conservation area with more than 150 buildings of historic interest, close to the lush ancient Forest of Arden and Stratford.

MALMESBURY

Malmesbury - Wiltshire

A charming market town with plenty of indy shops, cafes and a fabulous newly refurbished hotel.

tree houses

Tenbury Wells - Worcestershire

Keen to leave behind the stresses of the city but not willing to compromise on your foodie and arts scene passions? Then get your sat nav firmly pinned on Tenbury Wells.

THANK YOU FOR VOTING!

Now go and win yourself a whopping £1,000 to spend at John Lewis on an insanely squishy sofa, wardrobe overhaul, kitchen gadgets - or whatever you like! - thanks to our partner Strutt & Parker.

Photo of sofa

Need to know

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  • - The prize is a £1,000 voucher for John Lewis
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  • - The prize draw closes on 22 Mar 2022
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