I have been asked, quite often recently, where are the best places to live in Essex?
For those who have heard of Saffron Walden, the image of a quaint, historic market town within close proximity of Cambridge comes to mind. Although this is correct, what else does Saffron Walden have to offer from a property, transport and lifestyle perspective?
The majority of houses in the town centre are either Victorian, Edwardian or dating back even further to the medieval period. There is a small amount of development on the edges of town, but due to the limited opportunity to build in the town centre, it has managed to retain its rural charm and character. The surrounding villages on the north side of town tend to be populated by farms and barns, whilst the south side of town offers the older 15th, 16th and 17th century style properties. An average four-bedroom house in or out of town can, depending on the location, be priced between £700,00 and £900,000, with houses closest to the schools, station or airport commanding an even higher premium.
Saffron Walden is situated within the M11 corridor between London (50 minutes by car) and Cambridge (20 minutes by car). It is on the same train line that runs between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street with the fast train from Audley End offering an excellent commuter link to London’s financial district within 55 minutes. The train journey to London Stansted is approximately 20 minutes, which is ideal for those looking for a lock up and leave option or requiring easy access to the airport for business or pleasure purposes.
A large number of buyers move to the Saffron Walden area to take advantage of the excellent schools on offer. Saffron Walden County High School for example, is a large co-ed academy rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Dame Bradbury’s and Walden school are two private schools with very good academic results that also attract pupils who live in Cambridge.
Culturally, the town and its surroundings has some interesting places to visit, such as Audley End House, a stunning 17th century Jacobean country house run by the English Heritage. The house offers an array of events, concerts and exhibitions all year round and has vast grounds and parkland to visit. Saffron Walden also has its own small museum where you can discover the history of the town and there are some interesting galleries such as ‘Fry’ Art Gallery which primarily displays work by the Great Bardfield artists.
Saffron Walden effectively offers the best of both worlds, a charming market town with beautiful rural countryside, but within a short distance of Cambridge, Stansted and even London. Prices in the area are rising rapidly due to general lack of stock whilst also trying to accommodate for the overflow of Cambridge buyers looking to get more for their money in a good location. Saffron Walden is a great location to live when considering your next move.