“… a laid-back, relaxed city, where you’ll find young professionals enjoying an al-fresco lunch in the gardens of the Cathedral or an evening on a Quayside bar terrace…”
Moving to Exeter
While it may be second to Plymouth in size with a population of just 130,000, Exeter is often seen as the superior city in Devon for its charming streets, top-quality educational establishments and family-friendly feel. Sitting on the River Exe, this is a laid-back, relaxed city, where you’ll find young professionals enjoying an al-fresco lunch in the gardens of the Cathedral or an evening on a Quayside bar terrace, while families peruse the many independent grocers of St Leonards.
Famous for its cathedral, Exeter was named among the top 20 cities in the UK in 2017, and despite its many attractions there are few tourists here, leaving the locals to make the most of all the cultural activities and diverse dining scene themselves. Despite a relaxed pace, it’s also a fast growing city, with a lively ambience encouraged by the 22,000 strong student population that stops it getting altogether too sleepy. One major drawback for some is the distance to London, with the fastest trains taking just under three hours, but with beaches on your doorstep its a compromise many are willing to make.
House prices in Exeter
As of 2017, the average house price in Exeter was around £260,000, just slightly higher than the average for the Devon region. Prices vary across the city and the nearby area, with leafy St Leonards and Pennsylvania among the top choices of suburbs for families, and Topsham one of the leading local villages. Young professionals, on the other hand, can often be found in the chic apartments of the Quay area in central Exeter.
“While the excellent array of seafood on offer is to be expected, Exeter is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to giving residents a wide range of restaurants, with everything from plush hotel dining rooms to international street food spots to be found in the city”
Despite being in one of the UK’s most south-western areas, Exeter is well-connected to the rest of the UK by rail and road, with three train stations (Exeter St Davids, Exeter Central, Exeter St Thomas) and the M5 close by for journeys to Bristol and further afield. Trains to London take around three hours, while for those seeking to head further afield Exeter Airport offers flights to European and UK destinations including Corfu, Amsterdam, and Paris.
Within the city, there are regular buses to transport locals around town, although many choose to walk or cycle to avoid the congestion.
While the excellent array of seafood on offer is to be expected, Exeter is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to giving residents a wide range of restaurants, with everything from plush hotel dining rooms to international street food spots to be found in the city. Local favourites include quayside pizza restaurant On The Waterfront, Lloyd’s Kitchen for Modern British dining and Jasmine Thai for authentic dishes straight from Thailand. For casual, international dining, head directly to Queen Street where you’ll find the likes of Polpo, Comptoir Libanais and Turtle Bay alongside a rooftop bar with brilliant views.
Unfortunately for shopping fans, Exeter has been accused of offering a rather homogenous retail experience in the past, with a high percentage of chain stores – although independent boutiques are starting to spring up across the city. For big brands and high-street stores, Princesshay Shopping Centre offers the best choice, whilst the Cathedral Quarter is home to designer shops and the West Quarter is packed with boutiques selling an interesting and eclectic mix of vintage clothing, bohemian jewellery, and music accessories. Gandy Street is another hub for independent businesses, and was rumoured to have inspired Diagon Alley in former resident JK Rowling’s famous ‘Harry Potter’ series!
With thousands of students, Exeter also has a vibrant nightlife scene, with a plethora of busy bars in the Castle Quarter and various popular nightclubs including Cavern, Timepiece and Arena.
As well as various branches of major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Tesco, Exeter residents can enjoy an abundance of independent grocers and delis, particularly around the Magdalen Road area in St Leonards. The city is has also cottoned onto the street food trend, with weekly Exeter Street Food markets as well as Exeter’s Farmers Market for excellent local produce.
Health & Sport
The University of Exeter is known for its sporting prowess, and the rest of the city is no exception with a historic rowing club and plenty of fitness facilities including a Fitness First and a David Lloyd. Meanwhile for something a little different, why not take a trip to one of the many beaches nearby and try your hand at surfing?
For a small city, Exeter offers residents a surprisingly varied cultural life, including four theatres (the Northcott Theatre and the Barnfield Theatre are particularly recommended), an arthouse cinema in the form of the Picturehouse, and galleries & museums such as the Spacex Art Gallery and Royal Albert Hall Memorial Museum. Add a world-class Gothic cathedral, and it’s not hard to see why Exeter was dubbed the seventh most cultural city in UK in 2014.
“The city is also home to the University of Exeter, a leading establishment which regularly ranks among the top 10 in the UK and counts the likes of JK Rowling and Thom Yorke as alumni”
Schools and Education
For younger children, St Leonard’s CofE Primary School, St Michael’s CofE Primary Academy and Exwick Heights School are among the eight junior schools in Exeter with Oftsed ‘Outstanding’ ratings, while the independent Exeter School, selective Colyton Grammar School and state St Peter’s CofE School are among the leading secondary schools for exam results in the Exeter area. The city is also home to the University of Exeter, a leading establishment which regularly ranks among the top 10 in the UK and counts the likes of JK Rowling and Thom Yorke as alumni.
With an average crime rate of 70 crimes per 1000 people as of 2016, Exeter is a relatively safe city. Student hotspots such as Union Road and Sidwell Street often see higher levels of crime due to Anti-Social Behaviour among students.
With the East Devon Area of Outstanding Rural Beauty on one side and Dartmoor National Park on the other, Exeter is nestled between some of Devon’s prettiest green spaces. Meanwhile within the city, Northernhay Gardens is often packed with locals enjoying some central greenery, while further south Riverside Valley Park and River Exe County park offer plenty of space. For those who prefer sand and sea, there are a number of beaches just a short drive away too.