Colchester is perhaps best known as Britain’s oldest town, inhabited since the era of Old King Cole (yes, he was real, and a merry old soul was he) and at one point the capital city of Roman Britain. It’s also home to Colchester Castle, which is Europe’s largest Norman Keep, built in 1076, and you’ll find remnants of other eras too, such as the Victorian water tower. Sounds like an interesting place to visit, right? It is — and it’s also a great place to live and work. Here are our top five reasons for moving to Colchester.
1. Location, location, location
Colchester has direct road and railway connections to central London: it takes just over an hour by train
, which isn’t bad. The cost of a season ticket will be high, yes, but the cost of your accommodation in Colchester will be far lower than in central London. You can also avoid having to travel on the Underground. For international travel, Colchester is only 30 miles away from Stansted Airport, and even closer to Harwich ferry port.
For those who aren’t looking to commute to central London or elsewhere, Colchester is within easy reach of the Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty and the Hamford Water National Nature Reserve
, which are both lovely places to visit at weekends. If residents grow tired of the attractions, shops and amenities of Colchester, or simply want to broaden their search for a local job, Braintree, Chelmsford and Ipswich are all only around 40 minutes’ drive away.
2. A great place to raise a family
Local primary and secondary schools are mostly rated ‘Good’
by Ofsted, and there are several rated ‘Outstanding’. This is a town where parents value education and support their children to achieve their potential. When they get older, they might choose to stay at home and study at the University of Essex, which has a campus in Colchester, which has been granted Gold status under the Teaching Excellence Framework.
There are plenty of green spaces
in and around town (one of the most pleasant being the Beth Chatto Gardens), and lots of local places of interest to take the children for day trips (e.g. Colchester Zoo, Natural History Museum Colchester, Colchester Castle Museum).
You get more property for your money here than you would closer to London, and many houses available to rent or buy have gardens and extra bedrooms.
3. There's plenty to keep you entertained
Colchester has lots of pubs, tearooms, restaurants and bars for residents, students, and tourists to enjoy. Colchester army barracks is nearby and so servicemen and their families often frequent the town in the evenings and at weekends; their numbers plus the local student population mean that the local service industries are thriving.
There’s a theatre (the Mercury) and cinemas in the town centre; for high street shops, head to Culver Square, and for indie shops, check out the Red Lion Yard. There’s also a weekly craft and farmers’ market on Saturdays.
4. Great for art lovers
Firstsite gallery is free
to enter and hosts a range of artistic and cultural activities; it’s also home to an art gallery that features historic and contemporary works from around the world. There are community events, holiday club activities for children, lectures and talks in a packed schedule all year round.
The Colchester Arts Centre is used for all sorts of arts-based activities, from the craft market to concerts, theatre and a comedy club. Curzon cinema, meanwhile, screens arthouse films for those wanting to see something a little more thought-provoking than they might see at the Odeon. Last but not least, the Minories Art Gallery is run by the Colchester School of Art (part of the Colchester Institute) right next door to Firstsite, and features a contemporary art gallery and a rather lovely tearoom.
5. Foodies love it here
On the first Friday of every month, there’s a farmers’ market
held in the Colchester Arts Centre, where food-lovers can buy produce, baked goods and cooked food to enjoy indoors. Each June, Colchester hosts a Food and Drinks Festival in Castle Park, where you can enjoy a picnic, sample artisan food from all over the world, or learn how to mix cocktails! There’s a lovely atmosphere and it’s always well-attended. In the same month, Colchester hosts a Medieval & Oyster Fayre Market
, where visitors can drink mead and try their hand at archery (perhaps not at the same time), listen to storytellers and live music. In September, lucky residents may be invited to the Oyster Feast, the highlight of a ceremony that dates back hundreds of years.
Tempted to move to Colchester? If you need somewhere to store your belongings while you settle in, decorate or renovate your home, we have a storage facility in Colchester on Ipswich Road, with units ranging from 10 sq ft lockers to rooms large enough to store all your furniture and furnishings. If you’re a student moving to the area, we can keep your belongings safe whenever you want to go home for the holidays. There’s 50% off for new customers for up to 8 weeks of your stay with us, or 20% off for long-term stays of over 12 months.