You fancy living in a small city but don’t want to sacrifice the buzz of big city life. You want to escape to the country but you don’t want staying in to become the new going out. You want to stroll in the great outdoors but you don’t want to swap the shiny shoes/high heels for Wellington boots on a permanent basis. You know what you really want to do? You want to move to Bath. Can a relatively small city pack as much punch as the UK’s major metropolis? Let’s put Bath in the ring… in the hands of the experts!
Between them, the Cobb Farr team have decades of experience in helping individuals and families relocate to Bath and Bradford on Avon from London and the UK’s major cities, plus that all-important personal perspective on the topic. In this feature, the team have collaborated to present a round-up of the benefits, perks and advantages of making that move.
Whether you crave a fast fashion fix courtesy of the biggest high street retailers or fancy an elegantly-paced browse around an eclectic range of independent traders, Bath is home to an enticing array of shops and markets, many of which are housed in the kind of historic buildings that make the city so unique.
The gleaming Southgate mall is home to multiple shopping opportunities including familiar high street success stories; Milsom Street is home to Jolly’s (originally the oldest department store in the UK, established in 1831) and a classy array of super-chic, big-name fashion retail outlets nicely balanced by a handful of quirky independent outfitters, gift shops and homeware stores; Milsom Place is its own lively little urban sanctuary based around a cobbled courtyard and home to a variety of designer shops and high street flagship stores; the stylishly eclectic department store Rossiter’s of Bath is spread over four floors of a historic Georgian building and known as the Liberty’s of the West; the Walcot Street/London Road area is known locally as Bath’s Artisan Quarter, home to some of the funkiest indie trading posts in town… and we still haven’t scratched the surface of the shopping list yet.
Eat, drink and be merry
Bath is a foodie’s paradise; there are literally hundreds of all-tastes, all-budgets, pan-global cuisine opportunities waiting to be discovered from star-spangled Michelin flagship restaurants to hip street food by way of pie-and-a-pint perfection, casual brasseries and family-friendly diners. Eat on the hoof, or lounge on a plush banquette with views across an award-winning private garden. Take time out for an impromptu lunch in a vibrant cafe or coffee house, or book a table at the coolest dining room in town. Go six-course tasting menu or top up with tapas. Whatever your appetite, prepare to indulge your senses in the tastiest voyage of discovery you can possibly imagine. And afterwards… a host of super-smart late-night cocktail bars make ‘just one more nightcap’ a necessity.
Bath’s Theatre Royal is one of the oldest working theatres in Britain, established over a century ago and today offering the cream of the UK’s touring company crop centre-stage spotlight throughout the year. Meanwhile, the TRB’s Ustinov Studio specialises in highly acclaimed programmes of world and UK premieres alongside small-scale touring productions, live comedy, music and dance, while the TRB’s “egg” is a unique, innovative venue for children’s and young people’s theatre and a nationally recognised hub for its exceptional work with young people, schools, universities and colleges across the country.
Most of Bath’s big’ museums (including the Roman Baths museum, Fashion Museum, Holburne Museum and Art Gallery, American Museum, No 1 Royal Crescent and Victoria Art Gallery) are based in some of the city’s most illustrious historic buildings and all offer regularly-updated timetables of exhibitions both exclusive and nationally-touring, supplemented by myriad small, independent museums and galleries dotted hither and thither around the city.
On the festivals front, Bath Festivals brings international superstars to the annual music/books-centric Bath Festival and separate, dedicated Children’s Literature Festival, while long-established internationally-renowned festivals including Glastonbury and WOMAD are within day-visit distance from the city.
Meanwhile, live entertainment venues such as Komedia, The Forum and Chapel Arts Centre bring the cream of the music and comedy circuit superstar crop to the city’s doorstep on a regular basis.
Bath’s healthy selection of gyms, sports and wellbeing centres includes the University of Bath’s Claverton Campus: a world-class Sports Training Village incorporating the Team Bath Gym and Fitness centre, both open to the public.
Alongside regular fixtures, Bath Rugby (based at the Recreation Ground at the heart of the city) delivers all manner of programmes and training sessions across all age groups and abilities plus a dedicated Rugby Academy to nurture the superstars of tomorrow.
Bath is surrounded by sumptuous swathes of West Country green belt – even if you live in the middle of the city, there’s a patch of pastoral paradise within speedy, easy reach. But the city itself isn’t short on parks, either.
The elegantly sprawling Royal Victoria Park is home to a collection of meadows, duck ponds and wide-open spaces alongside crazy golf, Botanical Gardens and one of the biggest children’s play areas and skateboard parks in the country. Parade Gardens sits alongside the weir in the centre of the city, Alexandra Park (approximately half a mile from the city centre, on the city’s southern slopes) offers amazing 3D vistas right across the city, while Bath’s Skyline Walk offers perspective, serenity and multiple opportunities to engage with the ancient woodlands, peaceful meadows and secluded valleys that surround Bath, all outstandingly beautiful regardless of weather or season.
Direct rail links to Bristol (duration 10-20 minutes), Swindon (26-28 minutes) and London (a maximum 90-minute journey – just 70 minutes on some services – every half hour) operate from Bath Spa Station on a very regular basis, while access to the M4 is just 8 miles away, along the A46. Flying high? The AirDecker bus service offers speedy access to Bristol Airport 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, with an average journey time of 1 hour 20 minutes.
Bath is home to two universities, a further education college, five independent schools and several state-funded secondary schools ranked ‘Well Above Average’ by OFSTED.
Bath: around and about
London vs Bradford on Avon
The historic market town of Bradford on Avon is just under 8 miles away from Bath, around 16 miles from Bristol and just over 100 miles west of London, with regular train and easy driving routes making it the ultimate West Country ‘hideaway.’ But there’s far, far more to BoA than easy access to big cities.
This thriving, vibrant little town is uniquely positioned on the edge of the Cotswolds on the River Avon (the ancient bridge at the centre of the town remains to be at the heart of day-to-day life), surrounded by the Avon Green Belt and steeped in history (the town was first established as an Iron Age settlement over 2000 years ago). But when it comes to modern-day amenities and contemporary personality, Bradford on Avon is bang up-to-date.
In property terms, ancient meets modern in fine style here. A selection of original 17th/18th century Weavers’ Cottages sits happily alongside grand Georgian Merchants’ Houses, while 19th/20th century townhouses and terraces elegantly concede to 21st century grand designs. As for schools: there are a total of 12 pre-schools, nurseries, primary and secondary schools to choose from in the immediate Bradford on Avon environs, while many of Bath’s secondary schools offer direct transport to pupils who choose to commute.
Little wonder, then, that after an exhaustive national contest in 2015, The Sunday Times concluded that Bradford on Avon was worthy of the Best Town in Britain award based on its location, amenities, wide range of affordable family properties and overall beauty. Meanwhile, nestling snuggly twixt Bath and Bradford on Avon…
The picture-perfect, super-pretty village of Freshford is hugely popular with ramblers who meander alongside the Avon or Frome rivers or cyclists who make the most of access to the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, all of whom are richly rewarded for their efforts by finding themselves at the heart of a village that looks like a backdrop for a scene in a Beatrix Potter story. Fancy turning that magical staycation experience into a permanent base? There’s property gold both ancient and modern nestled in their rolling hills.
For further bespoke information, advice and guidance on all the subjects raised in this feature, please do not hesitate to contact Philip Cobb or Vivienne Hayes.