Bath

Georgian buildings, sweeping crescents and a high-brow history make this charming Somerset city a hit with locals and tourists alike. So what’s it really like to live in Bath?

“…this genteel, picturesque town can often feel like the set of a period drama, thanks to it’s grand Georgian terraces in golden Bath stone…”

Moving to Bath

Despite having just 90,000 residents, this compact city in Somerset has been a sought-after spot for centuries, and this popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Famously the setting for two of Jane Austen’s novels, this genteel, picturesque city can often feel like the set of a period drama, thanks to its grand Georgian terraces in golden Bath stone, hidden streets of independent boutiques and Jane Austen tour guides decked out in full Georgian costume.

Tucked away in south-west England, natural springs have drawn visitors to Bath for thousands of years, with the Romans originally establishing the area as a spa town and the Georgians transforming it into a haven for affluent Londoners seeking to enjoy the restorative waters and vibrant social scene. Now packed with historic buildings and Georgian architecture, the city has been a World Heritage Site since 1987 and brings in a staggering 3.8 million day tourists a year – not to mention the additional 1 million who choose to stay for a holiday.

But there’s more to Bath than just old stone and literary icons – it’s a major cultural hub, packed with theatres and galleries, the home of numerous software and publishing companies, and a buzzing student town for the students of the two universities. However, it’s still a small city and some may find the dining, shopping and nightlife scene a little too limited when compared to nearby Bristol, just 11 miles away.

House prices in Bath

Unfortunately for those on a strict budget, all this historic beauty and laid-back lifestyle comes at a price – as of 2017, the average property price in Bath is over £450,000, around double the national average. This is partly due to the lack of new properties in the city, as well as the sheer popularity of the place. Sought-after Bath suburbs include Poets Corner, Lansdown, Combe Down and Widcombe, while Bathampton, Larkhill and Freshford are some of the best villages nearby for those seeking a little more space.

“Despite having just 90,000 residents, this compact city in Somerset has been a sought-after spot for centuries”

Travel

Bath is well-connected by rail, with regular trains from Bath Spa to Bristol taking around 15 minutes, and services to the capital offering a journey time of less than 90 minutes. For drivers, the M4 and M5 are close by for speedy trips to London and Birmingham respectively, although congestion within Bath is very heavy and most commuters prefer to use the Park & Ride services. Regular buses also serve residents across the city, whilst walking and cycling are other popular modes of transport for those seeking to avoid the gridlocked traffic.

For international travel, Bristol Airport is the nearest international hub with flights to multiple destinations across Europe.

Lifestyle

Although Bath doesn’t quite compare to neighbouring Bristol when it comes to offering a diverse range of dining and shopping opportunities, it certainly packs a punch for a small city – there are over 100 restaurants here, a large shopping centre, a historic market and an array of independent boutiques. Top dining spots include the charming Italian Sotto Sotto, the seafood-friendly Fishworks and French bistro Raphaels, as well as plenty of cosy pubs, friendly cafes, and popular high-street chains.

For those seeking the thrills of retail therapy, Bath’s SouthGate Shopping Centre is filled with well-known brands, including Allsaints,H&M and Kurt Geiger, whilst the city’s Artisan Quarter (found around London road and Walcot Village) hosts myriad of eclectic boutiques and independent galleries. The 800 year old Guildhall Market is also an essential spot for any Bath resident, with around twenty stalls selling local produce, accessories, books and even fancy dress!

Groceries

Bath offers local home cooks a good selection of supermarkets, with major brands such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all found here. If you’d prefer something a little more local, there are plenty of independent grocers to explore too, such as Bartlett & Sons butchers on Green Street and Paxton & Whitfield cheese emporium on John Street.

Health & Sport

Although many residents choose to keep fit by walking or cycling through the city’s charming streets, Bath does also offer a number of gym and fitness facilities, including Fitness First, a YMCA Gym, and studios for yoga and Crossfit. Unsurprisingly, some world-class spas can also be found in Bath and its surrounds, such as the Thermae Spa in central Bath and the ultra-luxe Babington House hotel, members club and spa in nearby Frome.

Culture

As you’d expect from a city with such a distinguished historic and literary history, Bath is packed with cultural activities, ranging from galleries and guided walks to a nearby safari park. The impressive collections of the Holborn Museum, the Museum of Bath Architecture and the Victoria Gallery regularly pull in plenty of locals and tourists, whilst fans of Austen will love the Jane Austen Centre and accompanying City Walks around local sights mentioned in her novels. Five theatres guarantee that you’ll never run out of performances to see, and historical sights such as the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey are a must-see for any resident keen to learn more about the history of the city. What’s more, if you’d prefer to escape the city for the day why not take a drive to Longleaf Safari Park, where you’ll find over 500 exotic animals?

“Fans of Austen will love the Jane Austen Centre, and accompanying City Walks around local sights mentioned in her novels”

Schools and Education

This family-friendly city scores high when it comes to education, with a selection of excellent schools both in the state and independents sectors, as well as two universities. Shoscombe CofE Primary School, Bathwick St Mary CofE Primary School and Bathampton Primary School are among the best schools in Bath and the surrounding areas for younger children, with all three achieving 100% in expected levels of Maths and English. For older children, leading independents include Royal High School GDST and Kingswood School, while in the state sector Oldfield School and Ralph Allen School both come highly recommended.

For further education, Bath is also home to two universities – the University of Bath and Bath Spa University – the former of which regularly ranks among the UK’s top 20 universities.

Safety

With an average crime rate of 61 crimes per 1000 in 2016, crime levels in Bath are similar to the national average and it is generally considered to be a quiet, safe city. As with all urban centres, many incidents are confined to the busy city centre, particularly around Manvers Street and Wine Street.

Green Space

Packed with parks, surrounded by countryside, and close to both the Medip Hills and North Wessex Downs, Bath residents are never far from good green spaces. Within the city, leading parks include Royal Victoria Park, which holds a Green Flag award and is home to a pond and tennis courts, as well as Alexandra Park and Sydney Gardens.

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