A Focus on St Albans

Ranked ninth in the list of best places to live in the UK and relatively small and upmarket with an easy commute into the capital, good pubs and restaurants, a variety of shops and outdoor leisure options, no wonder the house prices are higher in St Albans – everyone wants to live there.

St Albans is an attractive, historic city situated between Hemel Hempstead and Hatfield, just 25 miles North West of London. St Albans was once an important Roman city and also the shrine of St Alban – the first British Saint. Today, St Albans is an affluent market town – with city status because of its beautiful cathedral.

St Albans and Historic Buildings

St Albans is a colourful mixture of old Roman ruins, Tudor pubs, old coaching inns and medieval cottages and has streets of attractive and beautifully maintained Tudor buildings like those found in George Street. It is well known as it was once an important Roman city – Verulamium – which was the second largest in Britain after Londonium. The city was founded on the banks of the River Ver and was important in Roman times as it was situated on Watling Street, the Roman road that went north and its name, Verulamium meant 'settlement by the marsh'.

The city's beautiful Benedictine abbey and monastery was founded in the year 793 and became the principal medieval abbey in the country. The abbey church was where the first draft of the Magna Carta was completed. St Albans rapidly developed when it became the first coaching stop for those travelling to or from London. In 1877 Queen Victoria gave St Albans city status and its abbey became a cathedral.

Today, St Albans still has important transport links. There are two railways stations in the city. The larger and most important one is St Albans City which has services to London, Gatwick and Luton Airports and the south coast. The journey time to King's Cross and St Pancras is an impressive 21 minutes and trains leave every ten minutes. The journey to Gatwick is 70 minutes the cost of an annual season rail card costs around £3,500. St Albans Abbey station is quieter but has an excellent rail link to Watford every 15 minutes.

There are good access routes to the motorway networks as St Albans has the MI just to its west, the A1(M) to its east and the M25 to its south. For those wanting to escape on holiday, London Luton is just 12 miles away by road and both London Heathrow and Stansted airports can be reached by road in under an hour.

Culturally, St Albans is rich with Abbey Theatre on Holywell Hill which has one of the best amateur dramatics company in the UK and the Maltings Theatre Group. There is a cinema in the city centre. There are many annual events held in the city with the Food and Drink Festival each summer being one of the most popular. The city's annual wine fair is also gathering momentum.

St Albans Places to Eat Out

There are great dining options and pubs - and the town's 'claim to fame' is that it has more pubs per square mile than any other town in England. St Albans also has the country's oldest pub – Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in Abbey Mill Lane. The city has a wide range of restaurants including those serving classic British dishes as well as international favourites such as Little Marrakesh for Moroccan fare and Yia Yias for authentic Cypriot food. If you enjoy cocktails, Suckerpunch is the place to go and The Pudding Stop offers the most irresistible selection of traditional English puddings imaginable.

St Albans encourages its residents to enjoy the outdoors as it has wonderful green spaces. Verulamium Park is its largest and houses the site of the old Roman city, but Clarence and Highfields Parks are lovely too. Heartwood Forest is the largest newly planted native forest in Britain and Bricket Wood Common is another slice of Old England. For those who want to enjoy some good exercise, the city has a number of walking and cycling routes. Every Saturday, there is 5km Fun Run held in Verlamium Park that attracts several hundred local runners.

For those who enjoy sports, the city has a cricket, football and hockey club as well as an excellent gymnastics club and there is also the chance to enjoy scuba diving, the city's skate park or its climbing wall. Stanborough Lake covers 126 acres and is popular with those who enjoy sailing and rowing. 

St Albans has a good selection of shops with many of them situated in beautiful period buildings on its two main shopping streets. There are two shopping centres – Christopher Place Shopping Centre and the Maltings Mall and the city still has a sizeable market which is held twice a week and a bi-monthly Farmers' Market.

The good news for families looking at moving to St Albans is that many of the city's schools have been described as 'outstanding' in the Ofsted reports. St Stephen's Catholic Infant, Nursery and Junior schools are all excellent and St Alban, Oakwoods and the Abbey Church are all performing well. For senior schools, Loreto College, Beaumont and Sandringham schools are all achieving high marks. St Alban's School for Girls and St Alban's School for Boys are both top fee -paying schools in the city. 

St Albans Average House Prices

The average house price in St Albans according to the UK Price Index is £502,956 – which although is high, compares favourably with the London average price of £650.000.  Many people who live in the city, do decide to live outside and commute into London and many decide to rent in St Albans to 'test the water' for six- nine months before committing to buy.

There is a good selection of property in the city. For those seeking a period property, those in the Abbey Conservation Area are perfect. A three bedroomed period house comes with a price tag of £650,000 - £800,000. The properties within the conservation area also include pretty period cottages and larger houses with elegant Georgian facades. Of all the streets in this area, Fishpool Street is the most sought after.

There are attractive Edwardian and Victorian terrace houses sprinkled across the city and good examples can be found in Spencer Street, Pageant Street, Bernard Street and Portland Street. The most popular property type in St Albans is the 1920-30s semi-detached and detached houses which are architecturally attractive and are situated in wide leafy avenue the houses have private driveways and surprisingly good-sized gardens.

Be warned though, an ordinary looking 1920s four bedroomed house can set you back over £1 million.

For those with more modest buying power, £425,000 will buy a modern two bedroomed flat in the city centre or one of the attractive two bedroomed terraced houses. At the other end of the scale, those seeking a five- six bedroomed house will have to pay £2 million. Its all down to location,location, location and if you go to chic Clarence Park which is located just east of the city centre, the price tag will be similar, but head a little further afield towards Fleetville and the price drops to £650,000- £850,000.

If you would prefer a semi-rural location, Oaklands, Jersey Farm and Tyttenhanger are all possibilities and if you want lower house prices, then look further afield in London Colney, Park Street and Frogmore. 

There are plenty of flats to rent in the city and these include ones in Victorian converted houses as well as new apartment complexes such as Ridgmont Plaza, De Novo Place and Ziggurat House, which are all located conveniently close to the railways station.

There are several less than glamorous areas in the city that are currently being a much needed makeover and the main one is in St Peter's Street which is one of the city's main shopping areas. The housing project that is nearing completion there has created 90 new shops flats and offices. Another new development which is generating a great deal of interest is the one in Campfield Road on the site of the old electricity station. 

100 new apartments are being built and as the development is situated just half a mile from the train station, no wonder there is great excitement – especially amongst those hoping to relocate from the capital. St Albans football ground is relocating and its current site in Clarence Park is a prime location for redevelopment, especially as the station is less than ten minutes’ walk away.

There are other really exciting new developments nearing completion in St Albans and these include Apex House which comprises of 48 flats, conveniently close to the station and Abbey view which is equally conveniently placed and has two bedroomed flats costing from £475,000 and there is a Help to Buy scheme available. Collinson Hall is another development with properties ranging from two –four bedrooms. Gabriel Square is a lovely mixture of one – two bedroomed flats and three and four bedroom town houses that is also conveniently close to St Albans City centre. 

Certainly St Albans is continuing to prove a popular choice for so many and is regularly featuring in various polls that  list it in the top ten places to live as it offers a good quality of life with a pleasant environment, excellent schools and health facilities, low crime rate and an easy commute into the city.

If you are considering a move to wonderful St Albans, contact us at GetAnOffer for the latest selection of available homes to buy in the area.

With thanks to Chris Stevens for this informative article.

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