Moving to Bristol
Are you moving to Bristol? One of the most expensive cities in the UK, outside of London, Bristol has been voted the best place to live in the UK for the second time in four years. Bristol’s economy is showing growth, and this green and culturally diverse city attracts businesses and families from all over the world. The city boasts a highly skilled workforce, with graduates making up a hefty 46% of the working-age population. Historically, Bristol is both a city and a county, its full name being the City and County of Bristol.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Bristol 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 Bristol on the Map
Bristol is located 120 miles west of London in the south-west of England, between North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and has been politically administered to by both counties in the past. Situated at the confluence of the Rivers Avon and Frome, the Avon flows into the Severn River Estuary and then into the Bristol Channel. The city has many green areas, Bristol’s green belt is six times the size of the city, and it is all protected. Wedged between the Bristol Channel and the Mendip hills, the Avon estuary and the gorge are on the Somerset boundary.
- Bristol Airport is 8 miles south-west of the city and offers services around the UK and to over 100 destinations in Europe. It is a major hub for RyanAir and Easyjet. A Flyer bus service links to the city, taking around 30 minutes.
- Two bus companies, First and Wessex, provide the main way to get around the city. Discounted tickets are available for night buses between the hours of 7pm and 4.29am.
- The new bus service, launching August 2017, MetroBus will initially connect Ashton Vale, Temple Meads and the city centre as its first phase. MetroBus will have its own traffic lanes and priority at traffic lights and will cut down commuting times considerably.
- Bristol has amongst the highest traffic congestion in the UK, making travelling by car a really bad option during peak hours. 41% of commuters prefer to use their own cars, but this number is decreasing.
- Cycling facilities are currently being improved, in an effort to minimise traffic congestion. Better by Bike offers a bike loan scheme, where you can try (for up to a month) before you buy. Cycle to Work offers tax incentives and savings on bikes and related equipment in conjunction with employers.
- Walking is becoming more and more popular, with around 20% of commuters taking a stroll to the office. This is, of course, dependent on where you live and work.
As the best place to live in Britain, the choice of areas is generally good. Accommodation is in short supply as the city is surrounded by masses of protected green areas, thus reducing available building space. And, it would appear, the fight is on. Lobbying to build more housing on the green belt is taking place, with an adverse reaction from the population. In the meantime, though, rental properties are snapped up as soon as they come onto the market, so speed is of the essence.
Definitely the most popular and the prettiest area in Bristol, this has resulted in big demand, with some of the prestigious houses being split into leasehold apartments, or flats. Luckily, many of the Georgian terrace homes are listed, preventing conversions from happening. The Regency crescents and the garden squares add to the ambience of the area, along with the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge, straddling the Avon gorge. Some of the streets have awesome views across this hilly city, Royal York Crescent being one of them. Clifton Village has an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes, boutiques and antique shops. Popular addresses include Harley Place, Canynge Square and College Fields. Durdham Downs is closeby, with its 400 acres of green space. The city’s most popular private school, Clifton College, is here.
Cross the suspension bridge to reach Leigh Woods, a leafy suburb set in botanical gardens and woodlands. Before the bridge was built in the mid-1800s, this stretch of land was solely forested and is bordered by the bridge, the National Trust Woodland and the 90-acre Ashton Park estate. Accommodation is pricey, but less so than Clifton, and varies from large detached houses to luxurious apartments.
TOTTERDOWN AND TEMPLE MEADS
For more budget-friendly living, Totterdown was built in the 19th century, with smaller and older houses than are found in other neighbourhoods. Artsy, creative, apparently gentrification is soon to happen. And regeneration is already happening in Temple Meads, especially around the station. Paintworks, originally an industrial estate on the side of the river, have been converted to residential accommodation.
REDLAND AND COTHAM
This combined area is a family hotspot, with large Victorian houses, vast green areas, great schools and a short downhill walk to the city centre. Accommodation is much more reasonable than Leigh Woods or Clifton.
Redland High School, a secondary girl’s school, and Redland Green School, a mixed secondary school, are both nearby.
Cotham is a cosmopolitan area, leafy and affluent, with many old houses which are now being used as bed and breakfasts and hotels or divided into apartments. Cotham School is a comprehensive school and was formerly Cotham Grammar School. St Michael’s Hill was one of the city limits and was traditionally used for hangings, with three martyrs being burned at the stake here in the mid-1500s.
REDCLIFFE AND THE CITY CENTRE
With property in high demand, a multitude of new property developments are happening across the city centre and Redcliffe. A new waterfront scheme, Bridge Quay, sold its initial offering of 40 apartments in one day. Most properties in these areas are urban apartments, giving you less space for your money, although rentals are still quite affordable compared to other big cities.
MONTPELIER AND KINSDOWN
After regeneration in the early 1990s, Montpelier suddenly became in-demand and is currently the most popular area for people relocating from London. A more bohemian, creative and eclectic population favours this community-spirited neighbourhood, with its Grade-II listed Georgian terraced houses, similar to those if Clifton, but much more affordable. An old, dilapidated tobacco factory has been converted into a theatre and arts centre. Kingsdown, Montpelier’s neighbour has more of a suburban feel, with garden squares, cobbled streets and amazing views across Bristol.
STOKE BISHOP AND SNEYD PARK
Stock Bishop has recently become popular with new residents moving to the Bristol area and is just north of Durdham Down. This smart neighbourhood surrounds a row of shops on Druid Hill and the small village hall. Stoke Bishop Church of England Primary School is more commonly known as Cedar Park. Sneyd Park, originally developed in Victorian times, has a mix of pre-war bungalows, exclusive 1930s houses and modern apartments, and a range of unique homes developed through of micro-developments, so there is plenty of choice of accommodation here.
Close to the harbour, three or four bedroomed Victorian houses are the norm in Southville. Undergoing a renaissance over the years, this has become one of Bristol’s best places to live, especially with the gentrification of North Street, with some residents nicknaming the area Lower Clifton.
BISHOPSTON AND ST ANDREWS
Bars, cafes, restaurants and small independent shops along with a family-centred community and a range of Victorian semi-detached and terraced houses feature in these two areas. More importantly, some of these homes fall into the Cotham School and Redland Green catchment areas, a massive bonus for school-going kids. Bishopston is pricier than St Andrews.
HARBOURSIDE AND HOTWELLS
Following a 10-year development the new, vibrant harbour side has become the heartbeat of Bristol. Modern waterfront apartments overlook the harbour to the SS Great Britain, next to newly-built office and old narrowboats. Wapping Wharf phase two is due to be released in 2018 with another batch of apartments, with phase one completely sold out. Cargo, a new concept in retail, has a number of independent retailers, quirky restaurants and craft beer and wine outlets.
Who Lives and Works in Bristol
With a population of almost half a million people, there are more children under the age of 16 than there are pensioners, with 16% of the population belonging to either a black or minority ethnic group. 46% of employees in the city are graduates.
This major seaport has a long history of imports and exports, originally wool cloth exports and wine, grain, fish and dairy product imports. Nowadays, this has become motor vehicles, with Bristol the largest importer to Britain, plus petroleum products, grain, timber and fresh produce. After the relocation of the port, a huge amount of money was invested and the annual tonnage increased from 4 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes. With the demise of the tobacco trade and cigarette manufacturing, imports of wines and spirits have filled the gap. Besides nautical trading, Bristol’s economy has, at its backbone, the aerospace industry, media, defence, tourism, financial services and IT.
The industrial area of Filton is home to Rolls-Royce, Airbus and BAE Systems, with Cameron Balloons, manufacturer of hot air balloons, also a resident in the city. Defence Equipment & Support, also in Filton, employs in the region of 7,000 to 8,000 employees, producing a large segment of the MoD’s defence equipment.
Tourism in Bristol enjoys nine million tourists per annum and is Britain’s seventh most visited destination by foreign tourists.
The financial services sector, with representation in the city by all the major banks, employs in the region of 59,000 staff. The 50 silicon design companies and micro-electronics facilities employ around 5,000 people. The former includes Hewlett-Packard’s national research laboratories.
The Best Bits
This fascinating area has been populated since the Iron Age and has thrived throughout the centuries.
- Bristol Harbour has been around since the 13th century and was the departure point for people sailing to the New World. A hive of activity, arts and exhibitions, cafes and ferry river cruises make for an interesting Sunday.
- The Bristol Harbour Festival happens in summer, giving you a chance to see a display of Royal Navy vessels and tall ships.
- An iconic landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge was first opened in 1864. Spanning 705 feet over the Avon Gorge, this Brunel masterpiece sways gently in the wind, as it was designed to do.
- At-Bristol, the science centre, has interactive exhibits, workshops, active audience participation and talks.
- Bristol Zoo is home to Asiatic lions, seals and red pandas, alongside a large number of exotic animals. First in the world to breed ikapis, aye ayes and lowland gorillas are also on show here.
- Cabot Tower, in Brandon Park, commemorates John Cabot’s first expedition to North America, more than 400 years ago. Climb the spiral staircase for views of the city and explore the small nature reserve, a pond for frogs and newts and a butterfly garden.
- Tyntesfield also has beautiful and tranquil gardens. This stately home, displaying gothic-style architecture is set in beautifully manicured park and woodland.
- The SS Great Britain ferried tourists between Bristol and New York City. It was the longest passenger ship in the world in its time (built in 1845), and is now a floating museum.
- The Corn Exchange building’s clock dates back to 1822. It has two minute-hands, 10 minutes apart, showing both Bristol local time and Greenwich Mean time. Outside the building are four bronze pedestals called The Nails. These were used by traders to negotiate and close deals. Money would have been placed on the pedestal, coining the phrase “cash on the nail”.
- Bristol has many art galleries, formal and informal, including the first one in Bristol built in the 19th century, the Royal West of England Academy. Spike Island is dedicated to promoting contemporary art and design. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has stood since 1823 and now showcases extensive art collections. Arnolfini is centre for contemporary art.
- The Georgian House was built in 1790 and is currently a museum, exhibiting typical life of that time in the city.
- Blaise Castle and estate was built in 1798 on a site that has been inhabited since Neolithic times. There is a stately house now used as a museum, the castle itself and 650 acres of parkland to explore.
- The Bristol Hippodrome, built in 1912 is one of Bristol’s largest venues for theatre and performances.
- Bristol Cathedral, founded in 1140 is famous in its own right, but more recently the first female priests of the CoE were ordained here.
- Banksy, the legendary street artist, grew up in Bristol, and he still remains anonymous. His work seemingly pops up in cities across the globe and can sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Bringing the Kids
With a wealth of history, outdoor spaces and great schools, Bristol is ideal for raising a family.
- There are numerous state primary and secondary schools in Bristol, all of them free from fees. They operate on the catchment system, so it is vital that you choose the school first and then secure a property in the catchment area.
- Private schools charge quite hefty fees but offer a higher standard of education.
- There are 12 private schools in Bristol, including Bristol Grammar School, Clifton College, Redland High School for Girls and the Red Maid’s School – which is notably the oldest surviving girls school in the UK.
- There are four schools offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme: Merchants Academy, St Brendan’s Sixth Form College, The Red Maid’s School and the Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy.
- There are two universities, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.
Relocating to Bristol
This beautiful, historic city is known for its friendly population, fantastic architectural projects and great accommodation ranging from period houses to bachelor flats, excellent education facilities, a good standard of living, a surfeit of culture and an educated workforce. All this adds up to it being voted the best place in the UK to live. Its growing economy has strengths in media, the aerospace industry, tourism, financial services and IT and Bristol is a leading destination for expats. Make sure that your children are enrolled in the best school, in the best area, with the best public transport. Using the services of a relocation specialist will allay any fears you have about your move, by helping with finding a property, negotiating the lease, enrolling the kids in school – and many other services.
Average Monthly Rent - Bristol
|1 bedroom in City Centre||£815|
|1 bedroom Outside of Centre||£670|
|3 bedrooms in City Centre||£1,479|
|3 bedrooms Outside of Centre||£1,142|