Why The Sunday Times named Norwich one of the best places to live in 2021

Norwich Market Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Sunday Times has named Norwich one of the best places to live in 2021, pictured is Norwich Market. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Norwich, along with Wells, made The Sunday Times' coveted best places to live list in 2021, with the city praised for its creative spirit and thriving independent shops. 

The Norwich entry can be read on The Sunday Times website and you can read the entire guide online too, including other towns and cities in the East Anglia that feature. 

Here are some of the key points.

Why Norwich, Norfolk, is one of the best places to live in 2021...

Norwich’s young, creative crowd lend its pop-up culture some millennial magnificence — and the Canaries are flying.

Norwich has captured the zeitgeist — a big claim, perhaps, but this small city set in the far reaches of East Anglia is hip, green, youthful and its football team, the Canaries, could well be promoted this season.

Two universities keep the population young and creative (the average age is 34) and for entertainment there are three theatres, not including the puppet theatre, as well as Cinema City and Norwich Arts Centre.

The high street has undoubtedly struggled over the past year, with the Debenhams on Orford Place set to be an empty eyesore.

Unlike many others, however, it’s in a better position to weather the storm with a quirky, crafty offering that cannot be emulated online.

Eateries along the street have backed the pedestrianisation plan. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre. - Credit: Archant

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About 60 per cent of the shops are independents, particularly along the Lanes, and pop-ups in the city centre are common.

Even the 1,000-year-old colourful outdoor market is moving with the times; where it once sold spare buttons and takeaway fish and chips, its repertoire has expanded to include artisan soaps and Korean fried chicken.

And no discussion of shopping options would be complete without mentioning the much-loved Jarrold department store.

Investment has been poured into green initiatives in recent years.

The council now hands out its own eco awards to schools and businesses, has invested heavily in a cycle network and its sustainable social housing on Goldsmith Street won the Stirling prize for architecture in 2019.

Dhaba At 15 is owned by cousins Juned Ahmed Al and Jahangir Alom Ali Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Dhaba At 15 is owned by cousins Juned Ahmed Al and Jahangir Alom Ali Credit: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Norwich’s vegan and vegetarian scene has flourished too, with the Tipsy Vegan on St Benedicts Street rubbing shoulders with old stalwarts such as Benedicts and Pinocchio’s, while Ernie’s Zero Waste vegan shop has taken up residence on up-and-coming Magdalen Street alongside Dhaba at Fifteen, a modern, teetotal Bangladeshi restaurant.

Ye Olde England can still be found on the cobbled street of Elm Hill, in the ancient walls surrounding the Norman Norwich Castle, and in the many craft beer pubs such as the Plasterers Arms, the Brewery Tap and the Fat Cat, a regular winner of the Good Pub Guide Beer Pub of the Year award.

David Biggins, a 34-year-old digital marketing manager, returned to his university city four years ago after stints in London and Stevenage looking for more space and a foot on the property ladder.

“It was about the pace of living as well,” he says. “It’s so close to the countryside and there’s so much coastline. Norwich feels like a quaint town, but has all the amenities, conveniences and transport of a city.”

You’ll love living here if
You crave a creative city with tote bags of character.

Bury Street Golden Triangle, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams

Bury Street Golden Triangle, Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

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The Golden Triangle around Unthank Road is still top dog, but now there’s a Silver Triangle branching off from Silver Street and Silver Road, attracting young families and first-time buyers.

House Prices 
Starter home £175,000
Mid-market £238,995
Top end £425,000
Average rental price £795 pcm
Source: TwentyCi

Trains run from Norwich to Ipswich in 41 minutes, to Chelmsford in 1 hour 21 minutes and to London Liverpool Street in less than two hours on the Greater Anglia line, which also has direct links to the coastal towns of Cromer and Great Yarmouth, and to King’s Lynn via a change at Ely.

The bus network has seen better days, but the council secured £32 million of government funding for local transport improvements in September.

By car it’s 45 minutes to Cromer on the coast, 1 hour 20 minutes to Cambridge, and two and a half hours to London.

There’s a wide choice of holiday flights from the city’s airport. Closer to home, you can explore the Broads from the city centre by boat, kayak or paddleboard.

Exceptional levels of superfast coverage and nine out of ten properties should have Virgin Media available.

The city is part of the Fibre First programme, and Openreach has started building its Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network in the west/central area of the city.

The new Sir Isaac Newton sixth form in the old fire station in Norwich city centre. Photo: Bill Smit

The new Sir Isaac Newton sixth form in the old fire station in Norwich city centre. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form ranks ninth nationally in The Sunday Times Parent Power guide, while the City of Norwich School (ages 11 to 18) also features.

A dozen state primaries dotted around the centre are rated outstanding by Ofsted. Norwich School (from £3,831 per term) won East Anglia’s best independent school of the year in 2017-18 and it still ranks in the top 80 nationally; Norwich High School for Girls GDST (from £3,796 per term) is another private school mentioned in the Parent Power guide.

Don’t miss
The Norwich and Norfolk Festival, with a family-friendly programme that transforms the city for two weeks. It’s set to celebrate its 250th birthday in 2022.