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Top places to live in Essex Leigh-on-Sea

Combining a buzzy cafe culture with Old Town charm, Leigh-on-Sea is one of the county's hippest property hotspots. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.


Industrial-style coffee houses, boutique bars and a sandy shoreline lined by characterful cockle sheds: Leigh-on-Sea is Southend’s smaller, trendier sister and thanks to a steady stream of relocating Londoners over the years, it’s managed to blend its small-town-seaside charm with on-trend hospitality offerings. (Yes, there’s even an artisan vegan-friendly gelato house and it doesn’t come much more ‘Shoreditch of Essex’ than that.)


For a chilled glass of rôse as the sun dips, head to The Boatyard in Old Leigh. With a deck perched over the Thames Estuary and stunning floor-to-ceiling glass mezzanine, this former boatyard building’s tasteful restoration provides the perfect backdrop for fine dining. Lounge lovers looking for a coffee fix and top weekend brunch spot should check out Muddy Awards Best Bar Winner 2021 Corner Club and Stop The World Cafe on Broadway, while The Crooked Billet and The Peterboat’s fish dishes are practically institutions in Leigh. Grab a table outside and soak up the salty sea air.


The Broadway, Broadway West and Leigh Road are all lined with quirky independents, high-end antique stores and homeware emporiums. My pick? Wilde & Idle for quirky retro furniture finds; exquisite blooms from 2021 Muddy winner, Scent, and Muddy Award finalist Tin Design for local artisan pieces.


Southend is just three miles away and is a hub of activity, particularly for young families. Kids will love exploring the Sea Life Adventure Aquarium on Easter Esplanade, while thrill-seekers can get their kicks at the beachside Adventure Island theme park, which offers up five rollercoasters, go-karting, dodgems and not one but two adventure golf courses. 


£353,430 for a three-bed terrace, ranging up to £517,676 for a three-bed detached property. However, large houses located within walking distance of Old Leigh’s cobbled lanes and cockle sheds, or set back on the town’s popular Marine Estate, can demand upwards of £800,000.


5-bedroom house in the heart of Leigh on Sea, on for £950,000 with Home


You’re spoilt for choice here, thanks to a mix of high-performing state, grammar and private schools, such as St. Michael’s, a warm and friendly Church of England Prep School for boys and girls aged from 3–11, included in Muddy’s Best School Guide. Blenheim Primary on School Way and The St Christopher School in Mountdale Gardens both come highly recommend by Ofsted, while grammar schools Westcliff High School for Boys, Southend High School for Boys and Westcliff High School for Girls are all outstanding.


Bell Wharf beach, a sliver of sand by Old Leigh that’s perfect for a sunrise swim. And if a dip in the estuarial murk doesn’t appeal, try walking the Two Tree Island Nature Reserve until you reach the Leigh National Nature Reserve, instead.


Just 33 miles east of London, a fuss-free 50-minute train ride from Leigh-on-Sea station will take you straight into London Fenchurch Street. An annual season ticket with C2C starts from £3,704. 

View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live 

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


Surrounded by acres of green space, you’d never know this market town is just 17 miles from the capital.


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.


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


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

best places to live 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.


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

Saffron Walden

Cosy pubs, a medieval market town and more country walks than you can shake a wellie at.

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