There's more to Chelmsford than a quick commute into London. Find out what it's like to live in this bustling Essex city and why it could be a fine choice for your next home.
Chelmsford first became established in 1199 when it was granted a royal charter to hold a market, and fresh produce lovers can still enjoy the undercover market today. In more recent history, it was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II on June 6 2012.
Chelmsford is historically known as the birthplace of radio. Pioneer Guglielmo Marconi opened the world’s first Wireless factory in 1899 and created the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. The company then moved into New Street Works just north of Chelmsford train station, where the first official publicised sound broadcast in Britain took place.
How much will it cost to buy?
For buyers, the current average asking price is £397,750. The table, below, shows how many properties have sold in Chelmsford over the past 12 months, the average sale price, the current average value based on Zoopla's data and how values have declined. You can check up-to-date house prices here.
What about renters?
Average asking rents per month in Chelmsford stand at £953. Renters will need to budget around £951 a month for a two-bedroom flat or £2,516 a month for a four-bedroom house.
Living in Chelmsford: What to expect
Thanks to the age of the city, there is a wide variety of housing type available. Houses for sale in Chelmsford include everything from Victorian terraces, 1920s detached family homes, Grade II listed buildings and housing developments from the 70s through to homes built in the present day.
There is a steady stream of new build homes in Chelmsford that are typically built with traditional looking exteriors, but with more modern interiors. The diversity available makes Chelmsford an appealing location for house hunters.
Thanks to the new developments, there has been a surge in flats for sale in Chelmsford, mostly located in the heart of the city, which makes them perfect for commuters that want to be close to the train station. Maisonettes are harder to come by, but they tend to be part of older properties with more character.
Finding an estate agent
There is a wide variety of estate agents in Chelmsford, from big name brands to independent agencies. Whether you’re buying or renting you can choose the right agent with our handy AgentFinder tool that compares how long agents list properties before they are sold. You can pick from 32 estate agents in Chelmsford, along with 29 letting agents.
Areas of Chelmsford: Where are the best places to live?
One mile west of Chelmsford is the picturesque village of Writtle, which centres around a village green. It comes complete with a Norman church, pubs, restaurants and even a duck pond.
Writtle's facilities include a GP surgery, dentist and a pharmacy. Sports available in the village include tennis, cricket, rugby and badminton. It has an Infant and Junior school and there is also Hylands School which caters for secondary and sixth form students.
Writtle College is one of the oldest agricultural-based university colleges in Britain and is a partner to the University of Essex. The specialist college offers a range of courses and qualifications - the majority of which focus on agriculture and land-based industries, as the campus has its own farm.
The urban village of Great Baddow sits to the south east of Chelmsford and has a population of about 15,000. The centre of Great Baddow contains more than 30 listed buildings and has been made a conservation area.
The 360 ft tall Great Baddow Radio Tower is the main landmark in the village and was part of Britain’s early warning defence system during the Second World War. It is the only complete tower left in the UK and was later used by the Marconi Company to continue the development of radar.
As a large village, Great Baddow has most of the amenities that would normally be found in a town. It boasts several pubs, The Vineyards shopping centre, all essential medical facilities and several sports clubs.
Great Baddow contains four primary schools and two secondary schools. Although The Sandon School is not technically in Great Baddow, it is still attended by many of its residents.
The civil parish of Springfield lies to the north west of Chelmsford. There aren’t any Simpsons in this Springfield, but the name was taken across to America when a former villager founded Springfield, Massachusetts.
The area has been expanding continuously since the 1950s when the site of the Essex showground was developed into a housing estate.
Springfield is still growing and its latest development at Great Beaulieu Park will be the largest, with 3,600 new homes being built as well as a new train station, hotel and business park.
This development will also contain two new primary schools and a secondary school along with health, retail and sports amenities. Eight primary schools serve Springfield while there are two secondary schools – one of which is the independent New Hall School.
Immediately to the north of Chelmsford is Broomfield. The village sits on the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial. It was discovered in 1888 and has produced numerous findings, which are now in the British museum.
Broomfield Hospital is one of the largest in east England and specialises in plastics and burns treatment. There is a cricket club and football club in the village, and also several pubs to enjoy a post-match pint in. There is one primary school in Broomfield, a school and college that takes children from three up to 18, and one high school that teaches children aged 11 to 18.
What’s for sale
... for the first-time buyer?
The saying location, location, location fully applies to this modern flat which sits in the heart of the city centre. The train station, shops, restaurants, bars and leisure facilities are all on the doorstep of this home. It also benefits from a video intercom system and secure allocated parking.
Available via Century 21 Chelmsford City
... for the family?
In the suburb of Moulsham you’ll find this semi-detached home that’s been tastefully modernised from top to bottom by its current owners. Downstairs there’s an open plan living and dining room, along with a sleek galley kitchen. Upstairs you’ll find two double bedrooms, while the third is ideal as a nursery.
Available via Walkers
... for renters?
If you’re planning to commute into the capital, this well-maintained top-floor flat a few minutes’ walk from the train station is ideal. The open plan living and dining room contains a Juliet balcony, but if you want to enjoy the great outdoors properly, you can take a riverside walk in Central Park, which is just half a mile away.
Available via Intercountry
... with the biggest discount?
Originally up for grabs at £540,000, this bungalow has since had its price slashed by £100,000. It could be a great property to downsize to, although it also sits in a large plot, so could also potentially be extended into a larger family home. The garage has been converted to contain a study and utility room, but there’s still plenty of off space for off-street parking at the front of the bungalow.
Available via Northwood
The most popular Chelmsford property currently for sale is…
This modest three-bedroom home is fairly unassuming but offers great potential. It already comes with a modernised kitchen and living room, however one of the bedrooms needs some TLC and there’s scope to modernise the family bathroom. More substantial work could include a kitchen extension or a full side extension, although you’ll need planning permission.
Available via William H Brown
The most expensive streets in Chelmsford are...
Getting around Chelmsford
Train: Chelmsford train station can be found in the city centre and provides a range of services into London and further out to Ipswich, Clacton-on-Sea, Harwich, Braintree and Norwich. Trains from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street can take as little as 32 minutes and run frequently.
Bus: There is a wide range of bus services in Chelmsford, including school buses, a route out to Harlow and a route serving Southend and Stansted airport. There are also two park-and-ride services, one in Sandon and one in Chelmer Valley.
Car: The A12 from London to Colchester used to pass directly through the city but a bypass opened in 1986 to alleviate the traffic in the area. The A12 is still easily accessible and provides a convenient route into the capital and the rest of Essex. There are two other main routes through the city. The A414 runs east to west, while the A130/A131 runs roughly from north to south. The Army & Navy roundabout, which connects the A1114 to Parkway road and the A138, is notoriously busy at peak times, with traffic often queuing a mile back.
Air: Chelmsford benefits from being within a 25 to 30-minute drive from London Stansted Airport, which predominantly provides flights to Europe, although there are a few long-haul flights. Stansted Airport is the fourth busiest airport in the UK with nearly 20 million passengers using the airport in 2014. London Southend Airport is also close to hand and is roughly a half an hour's drive from Chelmsford. Southend is a much quieter airport with just over one million passengers a year. It was voted as the best airport in Britain for three consecutive years (2013-2015). London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City and London Luton airports are all within a driving range of less than an hour and 10 minutes provided the traffic is good.
Things to do in Chelmsford
Shopping: Chelmsford is well suited to shopaholics, as you can enjoy perusing the high street, two indoor shopping centres (Higher Chelmer and The Meadows), as well as a regular market.
Food and drink: There are a wide range of cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars. Well-known brands such as Costa, Frankie & Bennys, Starbucks, Pizza Express, Nandos, Prezzo and Zizzi can all be found in the city. There is also a good selection of independent restaurants to choose from, with classic Italian cuisine from Vita Bella and Olio’s, afternoon tea in The Restaurant at Pontlands Park or Lek's Thai Food all being among Chelmsford’s highest rated restaurants.
Green spaces: For those that enjoy the great outdoors, there are more than 20 parks to walk, cycle, picnic and play in. Hylands Park and the RHS Hyde Hall Gardens are more sophisticated options, although Hylands Park has also played home to several music festivals.
Heritage and Culture: History buffs also have plenty to take in as the city has several historical buildings such as Chelmsford Cathedral, which is the second smallest cathedral in the country. Other places of interest to visit are the Grade II listed Hylands House, the ruins of Pleshey Castle and Chelmsford Museum.
Entertainment options in Chelmsford include partying the night away in one of the many bars or clubs, seeing the latest blockbuster film at the cinema or enjoying live shows at the Civic Theatre.
There are plenty of opportunities for family days out in Chelmsford. Fun activities include Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, The Chelmsford Miniature Railway, Tropical Wings World of Wildlife, bowling and pitch and putt golf.
Sports: Fitness fanatics can take part in a plethora of sports activities in Chelmsford, such as athletics, ice skating and swimming at Riverside Ice & Leisure Centre, several gyms, football, and rugby. There is also the Essex County Cricket Club, Chelmsford Chieftains ice hockey team, Chelmsford City Football Club and horses at Chelmsford City Racecourse to cheer on.
Jobs in Chelmsford
The city has been home to numerous major employers. Along with Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, Cromptons Electrical Engineering, Hoffmann Ball Bearings and Britvic have all had their headquarters in Chelmsford. The English Electric Valve Company - now known as e2v - has been based in the city since 1947 and offers a variety of employment opportunities, graduate schemes and apprenticeships. Employment can also be found in areas including the city's three retail parks and the Chelmsford Business Park. Education, medicine and the local government are all major sources of employment in the area.