Since the start of the pandemic, the South West of England has become increasingly popular with homebuyers and people wishing to relocate to the countryside, Londoners in particular, fleeing the capital in search of green space and more rural settings.

The South West of England, or the West Country as it is sometimes affectionately known, has a plethora of scenic locations to suit various house hunter requirements. It really is easy to see why people would consider moving to the South West of England just for the space, countryside, coasts and the growing lucrative job market.

 Let’s discover Stroud (Gloucestershire) and Taunton (Somerset).

STROUD – Gloucestershire

Stroud is a market town and civil parish located in the centre of Gloucestershire. Below the western escarpment of the Cotswolds Hills and the meeting point of the Five Valleys lays the town of Stroud, characterised by its steep streets.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town, and the Cotswolds Way path passes by it to the west.  Stroud is located 16 km south of the city of Gloucester, 23 km south-southwest of Cheltenham, 21 km west northwest of Cirencester and 42 km north east of the city of Bristol.

Stroud largely differs from Chipping Norton in many ways: the countryside remains totally unspoilt and way less sanitised, it has a bohemian vibe and feel, is renowned as being one of the “foodie” destination and scene in the West Country, and there is a laid back attitude in the air.

Jasper Conran called it the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds, referring to the famous high-quality farmers’ market available. But it is also worth noting that Stroud is also famous for its Fringe festival which has been rapidly growing in popularity, so much so that it is now considered as a little brother to Glastonbury.

Stroud – Best Place To Live In The UK In 2021

Stroud was named the best place to live in the UK in 2021 by the Sunday Times magazine in its annual review of British property hotspots and most desirable locations. The Gloucestershire town was highly praised for the quality of its schools, the green spaces on offer and its “independent spirit”.

The west of England fared well in the list, with Frome in Somerset named as the regional winner.

Why is Stroud So Popular?

Stroud boasts a number of interesting landmark buildings due to its well known link and heritage to the industrial era, including a series of old woollen mills from when the town was a thriving textiles producer, as well as the stunningly restored Stroudwater Canal with its own visitor centre.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the beautiful Five Valleys, the town attracts visitors and house-hunters alike for its enviable balance of urban and rural.

So What Is Making Stroud So Popular?

Great Location As A Commuter Town

The town is only a 90-minute train journey away from London, which gives it the edge over urban centres in our county.

If you work in one of Gloucestershire’s other big areas like Gloucester or Cheltenham, you’re never more than a 40-minute drive away from Stroud.

Stroud Famous Farmers Market & Food Scene

Stroud is literally every foodie’s heaven destination!!! Foodies will be drawn to the town’s culinary scene, with its independent artisan food stores, mouth-watering selection of Michelin guide restaurants, and famous Farmers’ Market every Saturday, named “one of the biggest and best in the country,” with more than 50 stalls.

The Farmers’ Market and the Shambles Market (said to date back to the 1500s) are particularly sought after and popular for the wide range of food and miscellaneous goods one can buy. They both have a great atmosphere.

Stroud Food Scene

Stroud is well known as an eco-friendly place, and that is reflected in its restaurants and cafes. It has lots of vegan and vegetarian places to eat, alongside plenty of inns serving great pub food.

The Surrounding Cotswolds Hills

Stroud is surrounded by the Cotswold Hills, which makes it a great place to live. Wherever you are in Stroud, you’re never far from the beautiful green hills with their roaming cows and consequently get that truly rural countryside fee.

Stroud Schools

Stroud is a destination of choice with families relocating to the South West of England due to great schools, 7 of them being rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted.

Natural Green Spaces

The green spaces on offer make Stroud very popular with families and dog walkers. Stroud has plenty of natural spaces which are perfect for a hot summers day, whether you like sitting on Rodborough common and grabbing an ice cream at Winstone’s or walking by Woodchester lake.

Local Independent Shops

Stroud is a vibrant town with an array of quirky, independent shops dotted around the town. It is consequently a great place to spend a day off browsing through the streets, whether you live there or are just visiting for the day.

Stroud Arts Scene

Stroud is definitely a place which caters for the artistic type – there are lots of small galleries in the town, while Chalfest and the Prince Albert in Rodborough have also scratched the itch of those longing for live music in recent years.

Stroud Property Market

The average house price in Stroud is £265,000, compared to a UK average of £231,068, while the average rental price is £700 a month.

Stroud Arts Scene

Stroud is definitely a place which caters for the artistic type – there are lots of small galleries in the town, while Chalfest and the Prince Albert in Rodborough have also scratched the itch of those longing for live music in recent years.

TAUNTON – Somerset

Taunton is the county town of Somerset with a 2011 population of 69,570. Its thousand-year history includes a 10th-century monastic foundation, Taunton Castle, which later became a priory. Taunton is a fairly affluent town in a great location. Once voted as one of the happiest towns in the UK, Taunton offers a great quality of life, plenty of things to do and a wide range of housing options.

However Somserset’s Taunton saw the biggest house prices rises  (up 21.8%) in 2021 which came as a surprise for many, estate agents included!

No one could have foreseen such a hike in property prices, especially when considering this price rise is more than 3 times the national average, which currently stands at 6.2%. In cash terms, the rise in Taunton translates to £56,546, bringing the average price of a home in the Somerset town to £315,759.

Also ranking highly in the price winners’ list is in the Wiltshire town of Chippenham, which has good links to the M4 and rural surroundings.

Although it has seen a smaller percentage increase in house prices of 18.1 per cent, this translates into the biggest rise in cash terms of almost £60,000 in just one year. Average values in Chippenham have increased from £322,859 in 2020 to £381,181 a year later, having risen £58,322.

Why is Taunton So Popular?

Taunton has always been very popular with its local residents who praise their town for its great location and easy commute distance to London – perfect for anyone needing to only commute to the office once or twice a week – whilst benefiting from a National Park on its door step and great schools.

As independent property search and buying agent covering the entire region of Somerset, Taunton has always been a town I have recommended to many Londoners looking to relocate to the South West of England. For a long time it was unfairly underrated, as it was a place where you can get more for your money, but now things have changed since the pandemic.

Taunton’s location makes it a great choice with trains taking less than 2 hours to London. The quality of life on offer makes it a very attractive proposition with the addition of good schools, Exmoor on the doorstep as well as a large number of independent shops. Taunton may not be the prettiest town as it was heavily bombed during the war hence why you will find many buildings with 1950s and 1960s architecture, but it has everything you could possibly want: great shops, top schools, stunning countryside on your doorstep and with the Somerset coast only 40 minutes away.

In short it offers the best of both worlds!

If you wonder what the property market for Taunton has to offer, there are properties to suit all tastes and budgets, from town apartments to larger houses, manor houses, vicarages, rectories as well as some lovely farmhouses and cottages.

Here is a little selection of what is on offer around Taunton at present (February 2022).

If you have deep pockets and are looking for a complete project, check this opportunity to build your own grand mansion in Crowcombe near Taunton.

Reton Gorse – Planning Consent was granted in 2020 for the construction of a new country house and ancillary buildings of approximately 15,000 sq ft – all set in house in a wonderful and private 175 acres woodland settings.

For those with a more modest budget, have a look at this striking, attached period residence occupying a commanding position together with beautiful gardens and grounds on the edge of this much sought after town. In all about 1.75 acres. Guide price of £850K.

And if your budget can stretch a lot further, then have a look at this stunning property.

Combe Florey is an example of delightful Grade II listed 18th century manor house with an appealing classical facade in the style of James Gibbs, of red ashlar sandstone complimented by yellow ashlar door and window surrounds. It offers a total of 21, 967 sq ft (incl. outbuildings) a swimming pool and pool house as well as 34 acres of parkland and pasture.

On the market with Strutt & Parker with a guide price of £5,000,000.

And if you need more convincing regarding this part of the South West of England and its suitability for an eventual property purchase or BTL investment, then read this article from Financial Reporter:

In summary, Taunton is a great option for people looking to relocate to the South West of England as it offers in my opinion the perfect balance in terms of location and accessibility, countryside and lifestyle. Long underrated, Taunton has now become one of the UK’s top property hotspots with fast rise in property prices.

Looking to relocate to Gloucestershire or Somerset? In need of some advice about these particular areas? Please contact us to discuss how we can assist you with your future property search requirements.

Domus Holmes Property Finder is an independent property-buying agency providing a comprehensive property search and acquisition service to clients looking to buy a home or purchase an investment property in Bristol, Bath and the South West of England (Somerset, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and Wiltshire).

For a free, no obligation consultation and discussion about your property search, please contact Jerome and Claire on:

T: +44 (0) 117 973 3683

M: +44 (0) 7734 115 098




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