If you’re upping sticks from the capital and heading west, or just thinking about it, then here’s a Master Builder guide to help you understand what to expect…
It may not be a stampede but, nevertheless, there is an exodus of sorts taking place as in recent years people move from London to Bath in increasing numbers. Perhaps some are disillusioned by house prices or rent. Others realise that they can work from anywhere and don’t need to be in a capital city. More and more of them are drawn inexorably, as if by a magnet, to this Unesco World Heritage site, the great city of Bath. In the Jane Austen era, it was a stopping-off point for ‘taking the waters’ (a phrase meaning to drink or bathe in the renowned, mineral-rich waters of the city, a practice begun by the Celts and Romans more than 2000 years ago). Today, that’s still a popular experience, but instead of passing through, more Londoners are choosing to put down roots. After all, who wouldn’t be seduced by the lavish architecture of the Royal Crescent? Buyers from London now make up around 25 per cent of the market in Bath. Many of them want to escape the feeling of burn-out and and stress induced by London living and therefore disregard Bristol, where they perceive that more of the same will be on offer. Instead, they see the comparatively relaxed, small-town feel of Bath, and the pulchritude of its Regency look, and fall in love.
Why move to Bath?
Improved restaurants and shopping
In recent years, Bath has been catching up with the bigger cities in terms of what it can offer for eating, leisure and buying clothes. The Gainsborough has acquired a world-class chef, and you can also try to following restaurants – Lucknam Park (Michelin starred), Babington House (affiliated with Soho House in London) and The Pig.
Small-scale city life
In London, you’ll have become used to the convoluted business of seeing your friends. Travelling from one side to the other means setting aside an hour and a half at the bare minimum. That’s like travelling to Sussex, just to see a friend who supposedly lives in the same city as you. And even if you’re willing to make the journey, you’ll have noticed that lots of people aren’t. There might as well be border control at certain spots in London, because it’s as if we’re living in different countries. Bath is another world. With around 85,000 dwellers, it’s a bite-size city with a more relaxed pace and a friendlier disposition. You can walk from one end to the other in twenty minutes, and you’re never far from schools, theatres, clubs, universities. Moving here from London is like moving from Rome to Bologna. You’re in a city where doing what you want and seeing the people you love is easy and completely without stress. It’s bliss. Here’s some recent insight into people seeking the calmer pace of life in Bath:
If you were previously a commuter to London, living in one of the Home Counties, then you’ll know what a slog the beginning and end of each day were. The crammed trains, the hour-plus journeys, the sheer expense. In Bath, you can avail yourself of the Bristol jobs market and then make the 12-minute journey by train every day in less time than it takes to go four stops on the London Underground. If you’ve made peace with the idea of longer journey times, then London is still an option for your career, with a 90-minute duration for the train journey. Get an idea of journey times to and from Bath here: https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/stations-and-routes/trains-to-bath
No culture shock
Moving to Bath isn’t like moving to the countryside or a village. In fact, with its wealth of culture, its fringe film festival, theatre, shopping, entertainment and air of conviviality, Bath is sometimes jokingly referred to as ‘West West London’. You won’t find yourself yearning to be back in the capital because so much of what you enjoyed about the capital is right here, right now. Check out Bath’s theatre-land here: http://www.whatsonstage.com/bath-theatre/
While Regency Crescent isn’t bursting with bargains by any stretch of the imagination, Bath as a whole is far less expensive when it comes to property. So, for example, that £500,000 property in the London is more likely to be around £300,000 in Bath. See more about the fluctuations in Bath property prices here: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/Bath.html
London has its fair share of wonderful architecture, but it also has seething swathes of dismal, ugly, demoralising buildings. In Bath, almost everything is built using Bath stone, so even modern council houses look good. Every day, you’ll be uplifted by the views. This gorgeous Georgian city is a feast for the eyes that never depresses you. There’s a Museum of Bath Architecture, and you can find out about it here: http://museumofbatharchitecture.org.uk