21st June 2024

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Escaping a Frantic City Lifestyle – Relocating to the West Country

Wave goodbye to the 9 to 5, and say hello to a West Country lifestyle.

The work from home revolution has opened new horizons for people who once thought they would be living in big cities until they retired.

WFH and hybrid working patterns mean that it is now possible to fast forward relocation dreams, allowing families to consider the benefits of their children in quieter, safer, more outdoorsy locations which also offer far better value for money than London.

Relocators have very different priorities to second home buyers. They need good amenities, plenty to do year round, and, of course, great schools.

These are Black Brick’s pick of the best West Country spots for buyers looking to shake up their lives:


Bath, Somerset.

The jewel in the West Country’s crown, there are few places in the world as beautiful as this captivating, pristine, Georgian city built from golden stone and surrounded by Cotswolds countryside.

Although the pace of life is slower than in London, Bath is also an incredibly liveable place. A cosmopolitan city with a thriving cultural scene, brilliant restaurants and interesting shops, a top notch rugby team, and a friendly vibe. There is a theatre, cinema, and each May the city celebrates music and literature with more than 100 events over ten days as part of the annual Bath Festival. 

For those who need to get to London, electrification of the Great Western Main Line has shaved commuting time to the capital down to well under an hour and a half. 

Families love Bath for its walkability, plentiful green space, and its good schools. Bathford Church School and Widcombe CofE Junior School are both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and the vast majority hold a “good” report. In the independent sector there is King Edward’s School, the Royal High School, and Monkton Combe School, all of which outperform at GCSE and A-level standard. 

The average price in the city stands at £593,000, according to Rightmove, although you will need to pay considerably more for one of Bath’s glorious townhouses on squares and crescents which look as though they are straight out of Bridgerton.

Historic townhouses on popular streets like Brock Street and The Circus, many of which are Grade I listed, sell for between £3m and £5m. Many have the advantage of a separate basement apartment, ideal for nannies or visiting relatives, although few offer parking or large gardens.

If you want more space for your budget then Widcombe is a popular suburb south of the River Avon, half a mile from the station and city centre and with its own high street. Spacious family sized homes here trade for up to around £1m. 


Wells, Somerset.

Small but perfectly formed, this former spa town has much in common with Bath, but its lack of a commuter station means it is often overlooked.

This also means that it is significantly better value than its near neighbour, with average property prices of  £354,000 according to Rightmove. 

Wells is a sophisticated little city with plenty of cute cafes and smart restaurants to hang out at, and great country pubs in the surrounding villages. The shops are a good mix of chains like Waitrose plus independent delis, galleries, and boutiques. 

Culture is another point in Wells’ favour, with annual festivals devoted to comedy, theatre, literature, food, and art. There is an arthouse cinema and Wells Cathedral hosts regular concerts. 

Out of town the Mendip Hills are on the doorstep for days out, and the beach at Burnham-on-Sea is 20 miles west.

Schools are, of course, crucial. Wells has a strong range of state and primary options. Its four state primary schools all hold “good” reports from Ofsted, as does senior school The Blue School. In the independent sector the Wells Cathedral School has a particularly strong reputation for music and arts, and strong academic credentials, and Millfield prep and senior schools are a 20 minute school run, traffic notwithstanding. 

The nearest station is Castle Cary, a 13 drive away. From there services to London Paddington take from around an hour and a half. 

Property wise the city centre is stuffed with gorgeous-looking period houses – although like Bath most lack parking or significant outside space. Expect to pay around £800,000 to £900,000 for a five bedroom house. For a more suburban vibe Haybridge, just west of the city, has family houses priced at around £500,000. And if you fancy a country house within a couple of miles of Wells a stunning historic house with some land would set you back around £1m to £2m. 


Truro, Cornwall.

Cornwall’s quaint fishing villages are charming, but if you plan to relocate full time the chances are you will be looking for plenty of amenities on the doorstep. This laid back cathedral city has year-round appeal.

Truro has an impressive range of restaurants, bars, and cafes. There are art galleries, a theatre, an arts centre, and an art deco cinema. There is a regular farmer’s market, and some very cute independent shops at Lemon Street Market.  For sporty types there are tennis courts at Boscawen Park, a squash and racquetball club, sailing opportunities on the River Fal, a sports centre, and great local walks.

For open space the National Trust’s Trelissick with its beautiful gardens is just outside Truro, and Idless Woods is a wonderful place for a ramble. Loe Beach is six miles south of the city. 

Most of Truro’s schools hold “good” Ofsted reports (there are a couple of outstandings too). In the independent sector choices include Truro Prep School, which the Good Schools Guide describes as “happy” and “nurturing”. For older students Truro High School for Girls offers all through education, as does Truro School (co-ed) which offers students “an enlightened balance of academic and co-curricular studies”. 

Trains from Truro to London Paddington take around four-and-a-half hours, and Cornwall Airport is a 40 minute drive away at Newquay with flights to UK and European cities. 

Truro is blessed by wonderful Georgian and Victorina architecture and, if you prefer a new home there is the Duchy of Cornwall’s Tregurra Park development of just over 100 homes, featuring allotments, a park and ride into Truro, and the award winning Great Cornish Food Store.

The average property price in Truro stands at £347,000, according to Rightmove. A glorious manor house on the outskirts would set you back around £1.5m, or you could opt for a Victorian villa for around £800,000.


Frome, Somerset.

Every so often a previously-little known small town finds itself thrust into the spotlight. 

The market town of Frome started to attract a buzz when high profile Londoners like fashion designer Pearl Lowe (mother of model Daisy) and her husband Danny Goffey, the drummer with Supergrass started to relocate there.

There is lots about Frome (which rhymes with “broom”) to like. The Sunday Times recently named it the best place to live in the south west, thanks to its good-looking historic town centre, its antique and vintage shops, independent cafes and restaurants, and its thriving arts and cultural scene. 

There is an annual arts festival, run by locals, and to see the town at its best it is well worth popping along to the Frome Independent, a monthly independent market featuring food and drink producers, designers and makers, vintage fashion, collectables, and furniture. There is also a theatre and an arts centre.

Proximity to Babington House, the country outpost of Soho House, means London style R&R is close at hand. And London itself is easily accessible, with trains to London Paddington taking about an hour and a half.

School’s wise parents will need to be careful with catchment areas if they plan to go the state route. The vast majority of Frome’s primary and senior schools hold “good” Ofsted reports, but there are a couple which the schools’ watchdog says “require improvement.” For older pupils Bath’s high performing independent schools are some 15 miles away. 

The average property price in Frome is £378,000, according to Rightmove. At the top end you could pay up to £5m for a gorgeous country manor with land, while a sprawling Victorian villa within walking distance of the town centre would be around £1m. Many of the properties in Frome are terraced, and a four bedroom townhouse would set you back some £600,000 to £800,000.


St Agnes, Cornwall.

If your dream of relocating to the West Country involves living right by the sea then this gorgeous north coast surfing village would be a wonderful choice.

Because while it is small St Agnes punches far above its weight.

There are no less than four nearby beaches: pretty, pebbly Trevaunance Cove, great for rock pooling and surfing, the secluded Trevellas Porth, the National Trust owned Chapel Port Beach, and the wide sandy expanse of Porthtowan Beach.

You are right in the middle of Poldark country in St Agnes, and the surrounding countryside is lush and beautiful for walkers, riders, and cyclists.

The waves mean that St Agnes is hugely popular with surfers, and the good looks of this section of coast means artists are well represented too. While there are, of course, second home owners in the village the majority of the occupants are full time, which means St Agnes doesn’t go “lights off” in winter time.

The village has two pubs – both serve food – plus two bakeries, a farm shop, and a a microbrewery, village store. There is a surf store and a couple of galleries too.

On a practical note there is a village primary school, rated “good” by Ofsted. Older students will have to be dropped in Truro, five miles away. Truro also offers the nearest railway station.

Property in St Agnes is a real patchwork quilt from contemporary new builds to barn conversions and traditional stone built cottages and farmhouses, mostly priced at less than £1m.

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