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Top places to live in Bedfordshire Bedford

There's a huge buzz around Bedford right now. And it's not surprising, this riverside gem is packed full of independents and gorgeously grand red brick properties and terraces. Aaaand, there's a super jolly annual river festival. Cute, right? Top 200 Places to Live series.

WHY?

At one point Bedford wasn’t even an option, but this pretty town, built around the River Ouse, has seen its star rise stratospherically in recent years – so get in on it while you can. Characterful winding back streets, arcades with independent shops and perfectly positioned riverside eateries are the order of the day. Oh, and the commute is pretty good, and the house prices still very reasonable. Sold?

EAT

Gosh, where to start!  For coffee with a twist, there’s Coffee with Art, or the quirky town favourite – the Coffee House. There’s a great craft beer scene, too, so you could try the Bedford Brewhouse and Kitchen (with its own microbrewery), of Beerfly. For a smarter drink/cocktail there’s Bears and Tales. And for dinner there’s uber-hip Herd, the Fatcap Smokehouse, or for something with a bit more spice, Thali and Tandoor offers authentic Indian. And we mustn’t forget the riverside – for a chilled rosé and fine dining on the river, it’s got to be Pen & Cob or a table with a view at The Embankment.

SHOP

Independents are the name of the game in Bedford. A few examples include Slide Records, Rogans Books, Made in Bedford at Number 13. High-end menswear store Maysons is a winner, as is delightful boutique Epanoui and for art, try quirky gift and creative supplies store, The Arc. And The Blue Glass Wine Merchants is worth checking out. There are also great markets: Bedford Farmers Market (twice a month), the Gourmet Market (every Thursday), and the quirky Handmade in Bedford Market, on the 4th Sunday of the month for 6 months of the year.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

The Higgins, a sort of slick historical and community learning hub and exhibition space is housed in buildings previously used as a brewery, exhibition space and museum. There are still exhibits, but also now great initiatives, such as art classes, talks and children’s activities. 

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE

You can purchase wonderfully grand mansions at very good prices for the county, with well positioned, Victorian terraces (often ‘do-er uppers’) UNDER £500k, Bedford sure is a bargain.

HOT PROPERTY

6-bed detached house in a village location, £650,000

SCHOOLS

Independents include the fantastic Bedford Girls’ School (prep & senior), Bedford School (boys prep & senior); Bedford Greenacre Independent School, St Andrew’s School (co-ed prep, girls senior) , Pilgrims Pre-Prep,  Bedford Modern (co-ed prep & senior) and Polam (nursery & prep to 9-years-old).

BEST KEPT SECRET

Thousands of people descend on the town for the annual River Festival, complete with live entertainment, family friendly activities, dragon boat racing, and more bunting and communal cheer than you can shake a pint of cider at.

COMMUTE

56.5 miles. Trains take 50 minutes to an hour from Bedford to St Pancras.

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