It might be off the beaten track when it comes to road networks but residents love Norwich as a vibrant and compact city of culture.
Norwich is a historic cathedral city in the county of Norfolk. It was once the second largest city in England, but its relative isolation means it’s now compact compared to other modern cities.
Norfolk juts out into the North Sea with no onward destination, motorways or high-speed rail services, so the city and its suburbs encourage residents to live and work within in the area.
However, Norwich is still a hub of activity. It is England’s first UNESCO City of Literature and hosts a number of creative writing and reading events. It is also known for its research and development: the Norwich Research Park includes the Institute of Food Research and the Earlham Institute.
House prices are £248,000 on average, well below that for England as a whole, although prices do vary across the city. Check up-to-date house prices here.
Living in Norwich: what to expect
Many residents work within the city itself or the wider county, giving Norwich and its suburbs a strong community feel.
The community spirit is strengthened by annual events such as the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. This brings residents into the centre to enjoy a mix of performances and installations, some of which are free.
Residents enjoy a relaxed pace of life, with plenty of heritage and entertainment at hand. The city has several medieval structures as well as independent art galleries and shops. Immediate access to Norfolk’s sprawling countryside and coastline adds to its appeal.
The city is also home to the students of the University of East Anglia (UEA), which was ranked as the 24th best university in the UK in the Guardian's University league tables 2017.
Development of new houses and flats can be found throughout Norwich. Disused land is also being regenerated and plans are afoot to develop the city further.
Norwich is also proud of its green credentials. Plans for a ‘Generation Park’ have been submitted to transform a derelict utilities site into a renewable energy centre with low-carbon homes.
Where to start your property search
The most sought-after area in Norwich is the ‘Golden Triangle’. This hotspot spreads west and south-west from the city centre to Unthank Road and Earlham Road.
Many properties within the Golden Triangle are Victorian terraces and villas with a peppering of 1930s and 1940s semis and modern flats. Take a look if you’re seeking a cosmopolitan atmosphere, plenty of amenities and quick access to the city centre.
The network of residential streets to the north of the city offers a more affordable alternative to the Golden Triangle. Hunt for properties on Aylsham Road and Sprowston Road for bay-windowed Victorian terraces with original features.
In the city centre itself there are several new-build developments on disused land. There are also former industrial building conversions, such as Paper Mill Yard near the Riverside retail and leisure complex. Even the 19th-century buildings of the old Norfolk & Norwich Hospital have been converted into contemporary flats.
Norwich’s suburbs are popular with families as they offer modern semi-detached and detached homes. They’re within easy reach of both the city centre and the countryside. Parks, amenities and schools are also close by.
Getting around Norwich
Train: Norwich Station is near the city centre. It offers direct routes to London Liverpool Street (two hours), Liverpool Lime Street (five hours), Cambridge (75 minutes), Ipswich (40 minutes) and Great Yarmouth (30 minutes).
There is currently no high-speed rail network, although the Government-backed Norwich in 90 campaign is planning to secure a 90-minute journey to London in the future.
Car: The city operates in places on a one-way system, and some areas are now pedestrianised. Routes into and out of the city are busy at peak times, although the ring road eases some congestion. Dedicated bus lanes make public transport convenient.
There is no motorway network serving the city, but the A11 towards Cambridge and London is now a dual carriageway in its entirety. The A140 leads north to Cromer and south towards Ipswich, while the A47 traverses the city from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth.
The Northern Distributor Road, currently under construction, will provide a dual carriageway from the national road network to Norwich International Airport and beyond.
Air: Norwich International Airport offers domestic and European flights, as well as 1,000 worldwide destinations via Amsterdam. Direct international flights can be accessed at London Luton and Stansted Airports, which are two hours away by car.
Things to do in Norwich
Shopping: Norwich is one of the UK’s top 20 shopping destinations. In the city centre are two shopping malls – the Castle Mall and the newer intu Chapelfield shopping centre, where many high street chains have outlets.
For other shopping needs, head to Norwich Market, the largest open-air market in the country, or browse through the independent shops, art galleries, cafés and eateries in the historic Norwich Lanes.
Heritage and culture: Norwich boasts two cathedrals. The 19th-century Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist is an example of Victorian Gothic architecture, while the early medieval Anglican Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity still bears the scars of the Protestant Reformation.
Other historic sites include Strangers’ Hall, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and the Museum of Norwich. Residents can also stroll around the old city walls and visit the Art Nouveau Royal Arcade, which houses shops, cafés and restaurants.
For art, visit the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, which has regular exhibitions as well as a permanent collection.
Music-loving residents can take advantage of the city’s music venues. The LCR at the UEA is the largest and hosts a mix of well-known and amateur musicians. Alternatively, attend one of The Waterfront’s weekly club nights.
Food and drink: If you like beer and ale, sample the offerings on tap at The Fat Cat Brewery or The Coach and Horses. Visit the annual Beer Festival in the autumn for the ultimate selection of beer and cider. For cocktails, try 42 King Street. This bar serves up a wide selection of drinks alongside tapas dishes.
Bohemian hang-outs include The Bicycle Shop and Frank’s Bar. If you like tapas, try B’nou, which serves up small dishes of seasonal food. There’s no menu, so it suits those who are happy to experiment.
Green and coastal spaces: Stroll around Eaton Park to see the model railway and boating lake. For more wilderness, hike through the trees to Mousehold Heath and explore its rambling paths. Bike or walk along Marriott’s Way from the city to Aylsham and indulge in sloe and blackberry picking when summer ends.
Check out Elm Hill, a historic lane of quaint shops, cafés, galleries and houses. Many of the buildings date back to the Tudor period, and the timber frames, overhanging gables and cobbled street have formed the backdrop to several TV series and films, such as Stardust in 2006.
7 reasons to live in Norwich
Compact and accessible city centre
Creative hub for the arts
UK top 20 shopping destination
Relaxed pace of life
Easy access to countryside and coast
Affordable property prices