Moving to Cambridge
Are you moving to Cambridge? Always thought of first and foremost as one of the world’s great seats of learning, Cambridge is much more besides. Settlement here dates back to the Bronze Age and it was an important Viking trading centre. The University was founded in 1209 by scholars fleeing hostile townsfolk in Oxford, and is now one of the top five in the world. The city is also the county seat for Cambridgeshire, the focus of a high-tech hub known as Silicon Fen, and the centre of one of the largest biomedical research clusters in the world.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Cambridge report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting Cambridge on the map
Lying some 50 miles north of London and straddling the River Cam, Cambridge is located on a flat, low-lying plane just south of the Fens. These were originally wetlands but were drained as the city expanded. The University lies in the historic centre, where many of the streets have been pedestrianised. Population growth is continuing and there have been significant numbers of new housing developments built since 2000.
Cambridge is a busy and compact city, and its historic street layout often struggles to contain today’s traffic volumes. However, it’s small enough to make cycling achievable and it has, in fact, the highest level of bicycle commuting in the UK. Apparently up to 25 percent of the population cycle to work.
- Cambridge is connected to London via the M11 motorway, which terminates just to the north west of the city.
- It’s connected to the port of Felixstowe in the east and to Birmingham in the west by the A14.
- There are five park-and-ride sites on the outskirts of the city to try and combat congestion and a shortage of parking.
- The city has several bus services, including the Cambridge Guided Busway which runs buses to St Ives, Huntingdon and Peterborough.
- Cambridge is connected by rail to London King’s Cross and Liverpool Street—the journey time is approximately 45 minutes.
- There are good train services to surrounding towns, to Birmingham and to London Stanstead Airport.
- By 2018 there will be direct trains running to Brighton and Gatwick Airport.
- The nearest international airports are at Stansted and Luton.
Cambridge is regularly sited as one of the best places in the country to live. It’s a small-scale city with an educated and friendly population. Naturally, property in the centre comes at a premium and for some, battling for pavement space with students and tourists in rotation is a constant irritation. But there are leafy Victorian suburbs and modern developments further out—it all depends on your taste and your budget.
Lying south west of the city centre, Trumpington is a mainly residential area with a core of Victorian and Edwardian properties. It’s popular with people working at Addenbrookes Hospital, the University and the science and biomedical centres. New housing developments on the south side of the village are being built on former greenbelt land to provide more affordable housing. It’s well located for good local state schools and a number of private schools.
Six miles southeast of Cambrige, Babraham plays host to the Babraham Institute, a biological research centre. It has a pretty historic centre with a church dating back to the 12th century, and there is a mixture of Victorian and more recent housing.
An attractive village that dates back to the 1100s, Cherry Hinton is home to some 6,000 people. It lies four miles southeast of central Cambridge. The village itself is fairly compact, bounded by an airfield, chalk pits and a nature reserve. It has a thriving high street and a good choice of property style, from historic cottages to modern housing developments.
This north-eastern suburb lies east of Castle Hill and north of the River Cam. The eastern tract is taken up by a large housing association estate, but the western part there are wide leafy streets with plenty of spacious semi-detached houses with good gardens. A new railway station, Cambridge North, is due to open on the eastern edge of Chesterton in May 2017.
Petersfield and Romsey
To the east of central Cambridge, these two wards offer residential areas that are particularly convenient for those working in the heart of the city. Romsey was described in The Times as one of the coolest 30 places to live in Britain and this has been reflected by an increase in house prices. Many of the dwellings are former railway workers’ cottages.
South west of the city, on the River Cam, Grantchester is a pretty Domesday village that has earned itself something of literary reputation. It’s also said to have the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners in the world, being something of a retirement destination for Cambridge academics. Rupert Brooke wrote of it movingly in his poem about the ‘Old Vicarage, Grantchester’, a house now lived in by popular novelist Jeffrey Archer. It’s pretty, rural and, needless to say, not the cheapest place in Cambridge to live.
On the north side of the city, this tract of previously agricultural land was earmarked for development at the start of this century. It features a mixture of houses and apartments, for social housing and private ownership.
Who lives and works in Cambridge?
The population of the city is 128,000, while the Cambridge metropolitan area accounts for 280,000 people, though these totals vary considerably depending on whether or not the University is in session.
At the dynamic intersection between academia and commerce, Cambridge is a city with a highly educated workforce. More than 40 percent have higher education qualifications, which is twice the national average, and many of the burgeoning new businesses here are university research spin-offs. A much higher than average proportion of the workforce here are in professional, managerial and administrative jobs, while there is a much lower than average number of manual workers.
Not surprisingly, the city’s economy is very much dependent on the presence of the University. It’s strengths lie in research and development, software consultancy, the creative industries, high value engineering, tourism and pharmaceuticals. Visiting tourists alone account for more than £350 million a year coming into the city’s economy. A large number of high-tech businesses and start-ups account for its nickname, Silicon Fen, and many of the science parks around the city are owned by university colleges. Trinity College owns the Cambridge Science Park, Europe’s largest commercial R&D centre, while St John’s owns the St John’s Innovation Centre. Top employers include Amazon, Microsoft Research, Sinclair Research, Apple, Marshall Aerospace, CSR, Spotify, Abcam, CamSemi, ARM Limited, Autonomy Corporation and Frontier Developments.
The Best Bits
Cambridge has a long-held reputation as one of the UK’s most beautiful cities—the architecture of its many ancient colleges is simply stunning. But it has a lot more to offer residents than a glorious environment in which to live:
- Cambridge has several theatres and live entertainment venues, including the Arts Theatre, the Cambridge Corn Exchange, the J2 and the ADC Theatre, which hosts the famous Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club.
- The Fitzwilliam Museum is the University’s main museum. Others include the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Polar Museum, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, the Museum of Classical Archaeology and the University Museum of Zoology.
- The city also has its own social history museum, the Museum of Cambridge, while the Cambridge Museum of Technology is housed in a former sewage pumping station and recounts the city’s industrial heritage.
- Kings College Chapel is one of the most beautiful chapels in the country—go there for evensong to hear their amazing choir.
- The River Cam, running through the city, is used for training by the famous university rowing team, while in shallower areas you’ll come across student and tourists experiencing the joys of punting.
- The Cambridge Folk Festival is the UK’s largest annual festival of folk music, held in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall. There’s also an annual festival of classical music, the Cambridge Summer Music Festival, hosted by the University.
- The Midsummer Fair is held on Midsummer Common, and dates back to 1211.
- The city also hosts an annual Shakespeare Festival and an annual Science Festival.
- The city is criss-crossed by a network of cycle paths, and this is one of the best ways to explore.
Bringing the Kids
Cambridge is an ideal place to bring your family to: a small, clean city with culture, history, green spaces and a wide range of housing solutions. It’s also a fabulous place to educate them, with a fine choice of schools.
- There are approximately 35 state-funded schools in Cambridge, including Netherhall School, Chesterton Community College, Parkside Federation, North Cambridge Academy and the Christian inter-denominational St Bede’s School at secondary level.
- Good state primaries include Milton Road, Spinney, Newnham Croft, Park Street (Catholic), St Alban’s (Catholic), St Pauls (Church of England), Kings Hedges, St Laurence’s (Catholic), Morley Memorial and Queen Edith.
- The most notable fee-paying schools in Cambridge are the Perse School, Sancton Wood School, St Mary’s, Heritage School and the Leys School.
- There is also an international school, Cambridge International School.
- The city has two universities—the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University.
- During term time, about 30,000 students take up residence in the city.
Relocating to Cambridge
While Cambridge’s glorious architecture and academic pedigree may be its most obvious charms, it has a great deal more to offer for an expat posting. The high-tech start-ups of Silicon Fen and the University-sponsored science parks and spin-off companies create demand for a technical and well-educated workforce—as well as keeping the city’s economy robust. Working here can be a pleasure—it’s small enough to be able to commute across the city by bicycle or to live in a pretty rural village just minutes from the office. The schools are excellent and, despite its size, Cambridge is cultured and cosmopolitan. Accommodation can range from smart Victorian and Edwardian villas to 1930s semi-detached houses to new developments of apartments and terraces. However, if you don’t know the area and need to find suitable schools, using the services of a relocation agent will considerably smooth your path.
At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to Cambridge, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.
Average monthly rent - Cambridge