Living in Leicestershire puts medieval market towns, a cosmopolitan city and miles of rolling countryside on your doorstep – as well as its famous pork pies and cheese.
Leicestershire boasts charming medieval market towns such as Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray and Loughborough. It’s also home to the growing city of Leicester, which sits at the centre of the county.
Where is Leicestershire?
Despite its popularity with students and residents, living in the county doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. The average house price in Leicestershire is a reasonable £224,000, and Leicester itself only has an average of £214,000. You can check the latest prices with the Zoopla house price tool.
Read our guide to get an in-depth look at Leicester.
Living in Leicestershire: what to expect
The county is famed for its produce as well as being the final resting place of King Richard III. Its traditional market towns and lively city also offer residents an enticing mix of culture, charm and history.
Leicester serves as the heart of the county and offers a large choice of shops and restaurants. Its entertainment venues and bar scene have been boosted over the years by the University of Leicester, giving rise to a thriving nightlife.
Beyond the city are the historic market towns, which still host regular farmers’ markets as well as vintage and antiques fairs. The centres are still recognisably medieval, with cobbled streets and winding roads.
Schools in Leicestershire act as another incentive for families to move here. Westfield Infant School and Great Bowden Church of England Primary School are just two schools that have earned the top rating from Ofsted.
Top places to start your property search
Leicester: The city is taking advantage of its attractive historical buildings by converting and repurposing them into housing.
Former office buildings, mills and churches are all being transformed into contemporary city centre flats. Check out St Georges Mill for a two-bedroom flat with floor-to-ceiling windows or take a look at the former church St Johns Chamber for an apartment with original features such as carved columns.
Alternatively, snap up a four-bedroom Victorian terrace on roads such as Newtown Street and West Street, or opt for a brand-new apartment in a complex such as Freemens Meadow.
Loughborough: The centre is characterised by historical squares and cobbled streets. However, the most sought-after area among house-hunters is Forest Side.
Forest Side is found between Epinal Way and the M1, and is favoured due to its proximity to schools and the motorway. Look to streets such as Beacon Road for a leafy detached home with a large garden, or opt for a grand Victorian property with five or six bedrooms on Forest Road.
Other desirable areas include Thorpe Acre and Dishley. The latter features peaceful cul-de-sacs with comfortable semis, such as those on Braddon Road, which also have modest driveways.
Market Harborough: This market town has a procession of handsome Georgian buildings in the town centre, many of which now house shops. For the best residential property, check out the Victorian villas on Northampton Road.
For a more modest family home, search tree-lined avenues like Lubenham Hill for semi-detached homes built in the 1930s. You can also pick up a luxurious modern flat by the river. St Marys Road has a purpose-built complex that offers two-bedroom apartments with balconies boasting views over the riverside.
Other new developments include Foxton Place. It sits off Burton Place on the western outskirts of the town and has a collection of two- to five-bedroom homes. All homes come with designer kitchens, attached or integrated garages and enclosed rear gardens.
Melton Mowbray: This classic English town is known for its pork pies as well as its network of medieval streets. At its heart are fine period properties.
Imposing Edwardian semis with double bay windows can be found on roads such as Craven Street. Look out for character features such as high ceilings, feature fireplaces and long gardens. For something more modest, check out the two-up, two-down terraces on Thorpe Road.
Hinckley: Hinckley is popular among families and has good transport links. Central Hinckley has a good choice of Victorian and Edwardian properties whereas the Hollycroft area is a favourite thanks to its closeness to the park.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch: If you want a home in the National Forest, this small town is a good place to look.
Elegant family homes with views across to the castle can be found on Leicester Road, or you can grab a Grade II-listed Georgian town house on Upper Church Street. For something with even more character, check out the double-fronted cottages on Wood Street, many of which have exposed interior beams.
If your budget is more restricted, take a look at the Edwardian terraces on Tamworth Road. Despite only having two bedrooms, these properties tend to be surprisingly spacious with long, narrow gardens.
Best ways to get around Leicestershire
By rail: Stations can be found in Leicester, Market Harborough, Loughborough, Melton Mowbray and Hinckley.
All are serviced by East Midlands Trains and CrossCountry, which run trains to cities including Nottingham, Sheffield and Birmingham. Direct trains also run regularly to London St Pancras International. The capital can be reached in just over an hour from Leicester.
By car: The M1 can be picked up just outside Leicester, which leads north to Sheffield and Leeds and south to London. Drivers can also use this motorway to connect to the M40, M6 and A1.
The M69 also passes through the county and links to the M1. From Leicester it heads south west to Coventry, where it then connects to the M6.
By air: East Midlands Airport in Castle Donington can be found in the north-west of Leicestershire. Flights to more than 90 domestic and international destinations are available, some of which are provided by budget favourites Ryanair and Flybe.
Best things to do in Leicestershire
History: Visit King Richard III’s tomb at Leicester Cathedral. His remains were rediscovered in 2012 and have now been interred in a modern sarcophagus. While at the cathedral, make sure you tour the water features and flowers in the church gardens.
Learn more about the fate of King Richard III at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. It tells the story of the battle in 1485 in which Richard was killed and the Tudor dynasty began. A re-enactment is held every year but you can walk the Battlefield Trail and enjoy its sweeping views at any time.
Cultural: A diverse drama programme can be enjoyed at the state-of-the-art Curve Theatre in Leicester. It prides itself on developing its own productions and talent and, unusually, has no traditional backstage area.
Drama held in the open air on warm summer nights is available at Kilworth House Hotel in North Kilworth. The theatre ground is protected by sweeping canopies in a wooded glade and can seat up to 550 people.
Festivals in Leicestershire include the Loogabarooga Festival, an annual family event that celebrates books and illustrations. Visitors can pop into workshops and talks by writers and illustrators or enjoy a story-telling session.
Outdoors: North western Leicestershire falls within the National Forest. It spans 200 square miles across three counties and nearly eight million trees have been planted to populate it. Visit the CONKERS centre to find the best woodland walks, activity trails and tree-top routes.
Country parks include Beacon Hill. Riders, walkers and cyclists are all welcome to explore its woodland and open heathland, as well as enjoy its panoramic views.
Shopping: You can take your pick of both high street favourites and independent shops in Leicester.
The largest shopping centre in the city is Highcross. It’s packed with well-known brands as well as a cinema and a selection of restaurants. Alternatively, take a look at the quirky shops, cafés and bars lining Narborough Road.
Markets are another regular fixture across Leicestershire. Loughborough has a twice-weekly market of 125 stalls as well as a weekly vintage market selling collectables, memorabilia and antiques. If that isn’t enough, a monthly farmers' market also sets up in the town, selling healthy and organic produce.
Food and drink: Leicester is the place to go for quirky bars and pubs. Check out venues such as Manhattan Cocktail Bar. Its art deco styling harks back to America's prohibition era, giving revellers a stylish place to sample bespoke cocktails.
Restaurants in Leicestershire include historical pubs, exotic eateries and fine dining establishments. Hammer & Pincers in Wymeswold is one of the latter. Everything is handmade on site out of fresh, local ingredients. Its eight-course grazing menu is the best way to discover the chef’s talents.
For something spicier, try Kayal. It specialises in Keralan seafood, such as king prawns marinated in chilli and fried onions or deep fried squid rings served with coconut chutney.
The Great Central Railway can be found in Loughborough. It’s the only double track mainline heritage railway in the UK and is the only place in the world where you can see full-scale steam trains pass one another.
5 reasons to live in Leicestershire
- Cosmopolitan city of Leicester and thriving market towns
- Well connected by rail and road
- Excellent schools
- Surrounded by rolling countryside
- Packed with independent shops, restaurants and bars
What first brought your attention to Leicestershire? Share your thoughts in the comments below...