Salisbury has been crowned the best place to live in the UK. We look at why this resilient city should be known for more than its infamous poisoning.
Salisbury may have achieved worldwide fame (or notoriety) as the scene of the 2018 novichok nerve agent attacks, but there are countless positive reasons to love this historic Wiltshire city. In fact, The Sunday Times recently named Salisbury as the best place to live in the UK.
City commuting, countryside weekends
Located midway between London and the West Country, Salisbury offers a perfect location for commuters who want to spend their weekends away from the city.
Half an hour’s drive lands you in the heart of the New Forest, and the Solent and Purbeck coastlines are an idyllic location for a family day trip in summer. For countryside walks, you don’t need to get in the car – stroll from the city centre across the famous water meadows, through the Avon Valley Nature Reserve or up to the ruined castle of Old Sarum.
Fast trains to major cities get you to London Waterloo in 90 minutes and Bristol in 70. There are also good road links to the capital, with the A303 to the north of the city connecting to the M3.
Online and community networks
Few things bind or divide a community more than an international incident and the year-long clean-up operation following the poisoning could have been a disaster for local businesses. But in the face of adversity, community spirit was strong, and Salisbury bounced back. Now the potentially infected sites have been ruled safe, businesses and life in Salisbury are moving on and up.
In fact, there has been a silver lining to the disruption. Local authority and government money has poured into Salisbury over the past year. There’s a planned £70 million overhaul of the central shopping area and within the next year, Salisbury will be the UK’s first ultrafast broadband city.
Aside from the unfortunate events of 2018, Salisbury is best known for two wonders: its cathedral and Stonehenge.
Whether you are religious or not, you’re bound to feel a sense of peace and wonder as soon as you step inside the cloisters of the magnificent cathedral, home to one of the four exemplifications of the Magna Carta.
To get a similar sense of peace at the world-famous prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, we advise visiting out of season to avoid the tourists.
Independent shops and local culture
If you prefer to shop local, then Salisbury is a great place to live. The city boasts a wide range of independent shops, cafés and restaurants as well as a monthly Artisan Market and the twice-weekly Charter Market, which dates back to the 13th century.
There’s a strong arts and culture scene, including the International Arts Festival in late May, the Salisbury Playhouse and the Arts Centre. For a small city, there’s a lot going on.
Some of the best schools in the southwest
One of the big draws for families is the excellent school provision. Salisbury boasts some of the top schools in the south-west including two grammar schools: Bishops Wordsworth (boys) and South Wilts (girls). There’s also a good range of prep and independent schools – Godolphin School and Chafyn Grove are two of the best.
Where to buy in Salisbury
House prices in Salisbury bounced back relatively quickly following the novichok incident. If anything, Salisbury is more popular now than before.
In terms of architecture, it offers something for everyone. In the city centre, medieval houses and period homes sit alongside new build properties. Further out, there’s a good selection of 20th century properties, some of which come with surprising benefits. This four-bedroom family homehas stunning views across the water meadows to Salisbury Cathedral.