EnglandKentCity of Canterbury
City of Canterbury

City of Canterbury

Known to many as the home of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales', this compact city offers a prized combination of cultural activities, highly-rated educational establishments and nearby nature, making it a hit with families and students alike. So what's it really like to live in Canterbury?

“For families seeking a quiet, quaint place to grow, Canterbury is home to good schools and stunning green spaces in the form of the nearby Kent Downs (not to mention the seaside)…”

Moving to Canterbury

Once likened to Florence by Virginia Woolf, the picturesque, historic City of Canterbury is often compared to Oxford and Cambridge due to the beautiful architecture, winding streets, crowds of tourists and thousands of students – with three universities, the 30,000 student additions make up a large chunk of Canterbury’s 160,000 resident population.

Boasting a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a bloody religious history via Thomas Beckett and infamy from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, it’s to be expected that the city is often teeming with visitors in the summer, something which can take its toll on the already heavy traffic thorough the area. For families seeking a quiet, quaint place to grow, Canterbury is home to good schools and stunning green spaces in the form of the nearby Kent Downs (not to mention the seaside), while for students and young professionals it’s a safe spot to explore with a budding food scene and an hour’s commute to London.

Nestled in the heart of Kent, Canterbury does suffer from a lack of diversity, with a largely white, Christian population. It’s also a relatively affluent area, with high housing prices making much of the city unaffordable for average earners, although deprivation and unemployment are also low here.

House prices in Canterbury

The many charms of this historic city are unfortunately reflected in the house prices, which at £297,000 on average as of 2017  are significantly higher than the UK average. For those that can afford it, all sorts of housing can be found here, ranging from Medieval houses to sleek new build apartments. The village-style St Dunstan’s, Chartham, Westgate Grove and properties around the Old Dover Road are particularly prized, while Hales Place is more affordable. For students, Hales Place is a popular area with many affordable properties for house shares.

“The many charms of this historic city are unfortunately reflected in the house prices, which at £297,000 on average are significantly higher than the UK average”

Travel

With both Canterbury East and Canterbury West train stations serving the city, rail connections are excellent particularly for London commuters – the capital can be reached in just over an hour, and there are an impressive 48 trains per day on this route. At the other side of the Kent Downs, Ashford International offers Eurostar services to Paris and beyond, whilst within the city itself a network of buses help transport residents to nearby areas. Traffic congestion is particularly bad due to the many old, narrow streets, so the city is also served by three Park & Ride services.

Meanwhile for drivers, the A2 and A28 cross over just outside the city, and the M2 is a short distance away.

Lifestyle

Once dismissed as offering a rather dull restaurant and retail scene in comparison to other urban centres in Kent, Canterbury has upped its game in recent years with a spate of new cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. As well as sophisticated chains such as Côte Brasserie, the city is home to an array of good independent restaurants serving international cuisines, including the Middle Eastern Azouma Restaurant, the Mediterranean Cafe du Soleil, and cult brunch spot The Skinny Kitchen. A real highlight is the Goods Shed, a combined farmers market and food hall where you can dine on fresh seafood and local produce before picking up some wine and cheese to take home. Nightlife is an altogether more subdued affair, although there are enough student bars and cosy pubs to keep most locals entertained.

Retail offerings in Canterbury are also improving, with most getting their fashion fix at major brands in the Whitefriars Shopping Centre, where you’ll find everything from H&M to Hobbs, while antique shops and independent boutiques can usually be found dotting the city’s most charming streets.

Groceries

In addition to a twice-weekly market popular with those seeking fresh produce from the surrounding areas, Canterbury also offers branches of major supermarkets including Asda, Waitrose, and Sainsbury’s, so you’ve no excuse not to get cooking.

Health & Sport

Sporty residents are well provided for with council services such as the Kingsmeade Leisure Centre, as well as chain gym Fit4Less and a number of dedicated centres and studios for yoga, athletics, trampolining and yoga.

Culture

As a tourist hotspot and UNESCO Heritage Site, Canterbury is brimming with cultural attractions for fans of history, ranging from famous medieval spots such as Canterbury Cathedral and Whitstable Castle, to popular museums including the Canterbury Tales Visitor Attraction and the Roman museum. For something a little less ancient, there are three theatres, two cinemas and various art galleries, as well as Howlett’s Zoo in Littlebourne for a wild day out.

“Situated within the borough known as the ‘Garden of England’, it comes as no surprise that Canterbury boasts an enviable selection of open spaces and greenery”

Schools and Education

With everything from Ofsted ‘outstanding’ primary schools to sought-after universities, Canterbury offers a stellar education for all ages. Eltham CofE Primary School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Blean Primary School are among the best primary schools in Canterbury with over 98% of pupils achieving expected levels of Maths and English, while leading secondary schools include the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Baron Court Grammar School, and Canterbury Steiner School.

The city also boasts three good universities including the University of Kent, which is regularly ranked among the top 30 universities in the UK and has a very high level of student satisfactioned. Combined, the universities bring 30,000 students to Canterbury, and they tend to be very well integrated into the city.

Safety

The City of Canterbury sees similar crime rates to the UK average overall, although this varies depending on the area, and most are statistically very safe. Canterbury is also renowned for being one of the safest cities for students in England.

Green Space

With Kent colloquially known as the ‘Garden of England’, it comes as no surprise that Canterbury boasts an enviable selection of open spaces and greenery, ranging from 21.6km of coastline in the north to one-third of the Kent Downs in the south. Between the two, residents can enjoy long country walks, days at the seaside, and plenty of woodland for wandering, while closer to home there are also a number of small parks within the city itself for some urban greenery.

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