If you want easy commuting without sacrificing your love of green spaces, then head for Bedfordshire.
Its central location makes it a haven for people commuting to London, Cambridge and Oxford. As a result, the average house price of £282,000, is relatively high compared to the national average. Click here for up-to-date prices.
Living in Bedfordshire: what to expect
Bedfordshire’s main selling point is its travel connections into London, Oxford and Cambridge. Rail services to the capital run regularly and can get you to London within an hour. Journeys to Cambridge and Oxford take about two and a half hours.
Nevertheless, escaping to the country is easy. The Dunstable Downs, part of the Chiltern Hills, the forest of Marston Vale and Greensand Ridge are all areas of natural beauty. And you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking and leisurely river cruises on the Great Ouse river
The county’s villages are popular. And in 2013, the Georgian-styled village of Woburn was named as one of the 10 most desirable places to live in the east of England by the Sunday Times.
There are many family-friendly events to be found in Bedford, particularly in the summer. The Luton Carnival features a colourful procession and the annual Kite Festival in Bedford is visited by 40,000 people each year.
Where to start your property search
Urban living: Properties in Bedford range from large detached houses on Biddenham Turn, Newnham Avenue and Kimbolton Road, to modest terraced properties on Roth Avenue. You can find one- and two-bedroom flats in converted Victorian houses that sit close to the centre’s amenities.
Luton is another commuter hotspot. Houses with Victorian features are common close to the town centre and train station while you can find 1920s and 1930s houses throughout.
Another area with good travel connections is Sandy. The town was a former Roman settlement and now boasts beautiful walks into the surrounding countryside.
New housing estates, such as the one at Great Denham, are also cropping up throughout Bedfordshire, offering apartments as well as more substantial family homes.
Rural living: Bedfordshire’s villages are an appealing alternative if you don’t want to live in the middle of a town.
Oakley village is a 10 minute drive from Bedford’s town centre. The village has upmarket detached properties as well as thatched houses cut from local stone. It has many walks that follow the river, including one that tracks past the stately Oakley House.
The village of Ickwell sits on the outskirts of Biggleswade. It possesses all the features of traditional village life, with a couple of pubs and a cricket pitch at its centre. Properties overlooking the green are thatched and half-timbered, but newer properties are also available.
Studham sits on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. A Green Flag common rests at the heart of the community, which is just seven miles from Luton.
To the north west of Bedford is Bromham. Houses here are pricey but it will appeal if you’re looking for comfortable detached and semi-detached homes. Bromham Mill is open to the public every weekend and has a café and play area for children.
Getting around Bedfordshire
By rail: Bedfordshire has a comprehensive rail network and trains to London typically take less than one hour. A fast train from Bedford will get you to London St Pancras International in 39 minutes, while trains from Luton or Leighton Buzzard will take you to the capital in 30 minutes.
By air: Luton Airport is a handy alternative to the major London terminals. You can head to UK destinations such as Edinburgh, as well as further afield, with airlines catering for trips to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Things to do in Bedfordshire
Dining: Tuck into a Bedfordshire Clanger. This suet pastry was originally food for farm labourers, but now it makes a tasty treat and comes in many flavours. Gunns Bakery in Biggleswade is the official home of the Clanger.
You can also enjoy fine dining at the Woburn Estate, home to Paris House, which has the only Michelin Star in Bedfordshire.
History: The county is home to a large number of stately homes, such as Luton Hoo and Wrest Park. If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll enjoy Luton Hoo’s walled garden, which is open from spring through to autumn.
Discover Bedfordshire’s history at Bedford Museum or explore the Danish Camp in Willington. It is thought to be located on an ancient Danish camp and trading place. Take a guided walk around the site before enjoying food served in the restaurant overlooking the river.
Famous historical residents include John Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress. To get a taste of 17th-century Bedford, visit the John Bunyan Museum and Library in Bedford. You can follow it up with a stroll along the Embankment to admire the town’s bridges and end the trip with afternoon tea at The Swan Hotel.
Adventure: For a perfect adventure, try a day out at Woburn Safari Park. Set in the Woburn Estate, visitors can explore 300 acres of land, much of which is filled with tigers, lions, sea lions and meerkats.
Entertainment: Listen to live music and other performances at The Hat Factory in Luton. This venue hosts club and comedy nights and supports local artists. Bedford Corn Exchange also has a packed programme of music, comedy and theatre performers.
Drive down the A600 and catch a glimpse of the often-overlooked Cardington Hangars. Standing at 180 feet high, these former World War I airship hangars dominate the skyline of Cardington and impress passers-by with their scale.
4 reasons to live in Bedfordshire
Fast train services to major cities
Busy towns and charming villages
Plenty of history to explore
Areas of outstanding natural beauty