Whether Southend becomes a city or not, it will remain a hugely popular place to live for professionals working in and around London. Great rail links, education and house prices all help and, of course, the draw of living near one of the UK’s most famous beach fronts makes Southend one of the best places to live in the southeast.
Victorian architecture dominates Southend, mostly because it was the period during which the area rose to prominence as a seaside resort. Thorpe Bay Gardens is a popular option for house hunters, especially those seen in the Burges Estate. On Victoria Avenue you’ll find more modern apartments and similar on Baxter Avenue, which are suitable for single professionals and couples. Townhouses and terraced homes can be found on Royal Terrace, and in the conservation area large multi-story townhouses with double garages and additional parking. The average property price stands at £305,360, with average rent at around £990 pcm.
With London proving expensive for many young families, Southend maintains its appeal for those looking to buy a good quality property without moving too far from the capital. That also makes it an attractive proposition for renters unable to keep up with ever increasing costs of renting in London. Strong rail connections certainly help those working in the capital and surrounding areas like Colchester and Basildon. Like many southern coastal areas, Southend is also popular with retirees looking for warmer climes and a life away from the less stressful built-up city areas.
Upon moving to Southend it won’t be difficult to find good schooling for your children. At primary level Barons Court Primary School and Nursery, Bournes Green Junior School and Blenheim Primary School were all rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in their last report. Similarly, secondary schools including Southend High School for Boys (and also the separate school for girls), Westcliff High School for Boys Academy and The Eastwood Academy achieved the same high rating from the governing body.
During the warmer months of the year the sea front is really the place to be in Southend. It has the longest pier in the world (7,080 feet or 1.33 miles), beautiful, sandy, award-winning beaches and lots of things to do from bowling and cycling, to roller coaster rides or just simply relaxing in the sun.
To take in some culture, Focal Point Gallery is one of the most respected in the area, putting on contemporary art shows year round. Central Museum dates back to the start of the 20th century and focuses on local natural history. It contains a planetarium constructed by astronomer Harry Ford in 1984.
The Southend Carnival, held annually since 1906, takes place every August, complete with floats and colourful attractions, and right throughout the summer a number of outdoor music festivals take place catering for all tastes.
Away from the seafront head down to the modern Victoria Shopping Plaza and High Street to find recognisable retail names alongside vintage and boutique outlets, and a great many independent cafés offering everything from bakery delights to coffee and milkshakes.
You’ll also find the local Odeon Cinema and the Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre not too far away either, putting on live shows and music events year round.
While there are a number of well-known restaurant chains, other places to eat in Southend include Oyster Creek which looks out over the seafront, Pearl Dragon for its well-reviewed Chinese cuisine, and the bistro style Mangetout, serving up wonderful steaks and ribs. Leigh-on-Sea Brewery serves its own unique traditional ales and craft beers and Mawson’s Micropub is another highly rated amongst locals offering six real ales direct from the cask.
Southend is an exciting place to be at the best of times and that looks set to continue with a huge £500m overhaul of the seafront and town centre in the works. The Better Queensway scheme could introduce 1,700 new homes, 31% of which will be affordable, along with a new plaza and pedestrianised areas. 200 new homes are being considered in Gunners Park, Shoeburyness and a further 214 homes just off Barge Pier Road. Southend United football team are also planning to redevelop their stadium, which could allow for the building of 850 new houses nearby.
Trains travel from Southend Victoria into Liverpool St, Central London, taking around an hour and 10 minutes, while you can also catch trains from Southend Central that will take you into Fenchurch Street in about an hour and eight minutes.
Travelling to Gatwick or Stansted takes around two hours and 20 minutes, Heathrow approximately two hours and 45 minutes and Luton two hours. Southend airport offering flights to Europe is located 2.5 miles away or a 10 minutes’ drive out of the town centre.