Ipswich

Ipswich

With a series of ambitions regeneration projects underway, this historic waterside town in Suffolk is one to watch for families seeking good schools, affordable properties and plenty of culture. So what's it really like to live in Ipswich?

“The glory days look set to return with a series of regeneration projects aiming to transform the town’s reputation from gloomy town to vibrant metropolis.”

Moving to Ipswich

Despite being the main county town of Suffolk, Ipswich has oft been ignored in favour of more celebrated and picturesque neighbours such as Aldeburgh and Stowmarket. However, it is centre to East Anglia’s largest economy, with Ipswich, Port of Felixstowe and BT Adastral Park generating around £8bn per year (gross value added).

One of the oldest towns in England, Ipswich is the oldest recorded Anglo Saxon settlement and has in the past been an important trade route. It also saw plenty of famous visitors pass through, with Louis XVIII, Charles Dickens and Lord Nelson all staying at the Great White Horse Hotel over the years

The glory days look set to return with a series of regeneration projects aiming to transform the town’s reputation from gloomy spot to vibrant metropolis. Plans to remodel the train station, improve the town centre and revitalise the dockside are already underway, making this historic waterside town one to watch. With a population of 133,400 and just 70 miles from London, it’s also becoming an increasingly desirable spot for commuters looking to avoid London’s sky-high prices. Families are also drawn here for affordable housing and excellent schools, many of which boast an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating.

House prices in Ipswich

As of 2017, the average house price in Ipswich is around £205,000 – lower than the UK average, and significantly lower than the Suffolk average of £255,000. Popular locations to live in Ipswich include Rushmere St Andrew, Woodbridge and the affluent Kesgrave neighbourhood, while for those seeking historic Victorian and Edwardian properties Christchurch Park is a top choice.

“With a population of 133,400 and just 70 miles from London, it’s also becoming an increasingly desirable spot for commuters looking to avoid London’s sky-high prices”

Travel

Situated on the London to Norwich train line, Ipswich benefits from two train stations – Ipswich station and Derby Road station – with regular trains to the capital taking around an hour. Though there are campaigns to improve the direct rail connection to London Liverpool Street to 60 minutes,  the journey currently takes around an hour and 15 minutes.

Within the town, various bus routes transport residents across the area, while for drivers the A14 and A12 are nearby, although motorway links are poor with the M11 around 50 miles away by Cambridge. For international business travel or those heading off on holiday, the nearest airport is Stanstead Airport, which can be accessed by regular buses and offers flights to destinations around the world.

Lifestyle

Shopping opportunities in Ipswich are relatively limited, although regeneration projects look to transform the town’s retail offerings over the next few years. In the meantime, most residents make do with the town’s numerous shopping centres, such as the Eastgate Shopping Centre, Sailmakers Shopping Centre and The Buttermarket, among which you’ll find an array of major high street chains such as New Look, TK Maxx and Boots alongside chain restaurants Prezzo and Wagamama, and even a multi-screen cinema.

The Ipswich dining scene is also in need of some improvement, and is mostly populated by chain restaurants and the occasional excellent independent spot, such as the Salthouse Harbour Hotel Restaurant and the Mariners, a floating brasserie on a boat in Neptune Quay. The Saints and waterside areas are becoming increasingly known for their independent dining options and boutique shops, but for a more diverse range of options, residents often travel to nearby Norwich, just a 45 minute direct train ride away.

Groceries

For fans of home cooking, branches of most major supermarkets can be found in Ipswich, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, with smaller shops inside the town and superstores positioned around the edges. There are also a number of international supermarkets, such as Asian & Afro and Lituanica, as well as a thriving market on the Cornhill.

Health & Sport

For a small town, Ipswich has a rather impressive selection of fitness facilities, including branches of The Gym, David Lloyd, Fitness First and Pure Gym alongside council-run services and small studios. If you’re feeling flexible, the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre is one of best in the UK, and the town is also home to two amateur Rugby Union teams if you fancy your chances on the pitch.

Culture

Cultural life, on the other hand, is surprisingly active in this compact town – there are plenty of theatres and venues to keep locals entertained, such as the New Wolsey Theatre, Dance East, the Corn Exchange and the Red Rose Chain Theatre, as well as numerous museums including the Ipswich Museum and Ipswich Transport Museum. History buffs will love the Christchurch Mansion, an impressive Tudor property with original artwork and historic rooms showing what life was like for aristocrats in Early Modern and Victorian Ipswich, as well as a good collection of paintings by John Constable. The town also boasts a number of annual festivals, with highlights including the Ipswich Arts Festival and a lively Jazz Festival.

“Boasting fifteen primary schools with 100% of pupils achieving expected grades in Maths and English, Ipswich is very popular among families with young children”

Schools and Education

Boasting fifteen primary schools with 100% of pupils achieving expected grades in Maths and English, Suffolk is very popular among families with young children, and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, The Oaks Community Primary School, and Kersey CofE Primary School are some of the most sought after schools in the Ipswich area. For older children, the leading secondary schools in Ipswich include the independent Ipswich School and Ipswich High School For Girls, while in the state sector Kesgrave High School and Northgate High School come highly recommended.

For those wanting to pursue further study, Ipswich is also home to the University of Suffolk, which brings around 5,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students to the town.

Safety

With an average crime rate of 100 crimes per 1000 residents, crime in Ipswich is relatively high compared to the national average. The areas to the south and north-east of Ipswich, such as Rushmere and Washbrook, are statistically the safest, while central Ipswich sees the highest number of crimes.

Green Space

Surrounded by pretty countryside and Local Nature Reserves, Ipswich residents don’t have to travel far to get away from urban life. The county town is home to around 500 hectares of parks, with popular spots including Bourne Park, Orwell Country Park and Christchurch Park, where you’ll find a round pond, tennis courts, a croquet lawn and over 100 bird varieties for keen ornithologists to spot.

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