Where to live in Bristol
We’ve got to admit, as born and bred Bristolians, we’re feeling pretty smug right now. 2017 has been another trophy year for our city, being named the ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’ according to The Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide – as well as one of the coolest places in the UK, well, according to us.
The Sunday Times assessed data including crime rates, house prices and school performance in order to discern which place was the most desirable to live in Britain, however, one of the things that we’d count as one of the best things about Bristol is its diversity.
“The city is a worthy winner thanks to its ideal combination of extraordinary culture, impressive schools, buzzing culinary scene, exciting redevelopment and community spirit,” said Sunday Times home editor Helen Davies.
From the gorgeous Georgian terraces of Clifton to the graffiti-covered streets of Stokes Croft and the colourful waterfront, our city is as diverse as its inhabitants. And with our notable alumni ranging from Banksy to the creators of Wallace and Gromit, and a thriving independent business community – is home to the longest stretch of independent shops in the UK – it’s no surprise that Bristol has a strong sense of individuality.
Bristol is truly unique, and not just on a macro level. Each neighbourhood in Bristol has its own sense of style, which can make it a tough choice when it comes to deciding where to live. So, we’ve put together a brief – and we mean brief, otherwise, you wouldn’t get us to stop gushing – guide to a few of our favourite neighbourhoods in Bristol.
Bristol City Centre and Redcliffe, BS1
The once-derelict Floating Harbour is now the salty heart of the city, with a combination of history, offices, narrowboats and new waterfront apartments. Prime addresses are the period terraces of bright-painted Clifton Wood houses that back onto Hotwells Road offering views of the SS Great Britain.
Heading south towards the centre, the 10-year-old harbourside development hosts a weekly street food market, numerous bars and the award-winning gallery, The Arnolfini. Further down, there’s Wapping Wharf, now home to the ever-expanding Cargo 2, a series of shipping containers transformed into barbers, bars, restaurants and yoga studios. Wapping Wharf has developed into a lifestyle hub, drawing huge crowds rain or shine.
And, if you want to get adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to explore activities like paddle boarding and rowing along the River Avon.
For more information on the best places to live in Bristol, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0117 287 2127. Or, if you’d like to get to know more about catchment opportunities, follow this link through to the Bristol Resident School Finder.
St Paul’s BS2
The area is a great showcase to what Bristol has on offer culturally and socially. Most well know for holding the yearly African Caribbean celebration St Paul’s Carnival, which has been going since 1968 and boasts a vibrant colourful procession, sound systems dotted around streets, and culturally diverse food stalls.
If you’re a DJ or music enthusiast then you’ll be pleased to hear that the area has Bristol’s best record shop Idle Hands. It’s also a great area for music, its central location means that it’s close to some of the best venues and clubs in the city, so you won’t have to walk far to see live music in abundance.
Building wise it has some fine examples of Georgian architecture such as St Paul’s Church, and house prices are currently standing at an average price of £220,000.
Described by some as “Bristol’s Notting Hill,” Southville went unnoticed for years but after a decade of regeneration kicked off with the emergence of the Tobacco Factory as an arts and theatre hub in the late 90’s, is now an area in high demand. Alongside neighbouring Bedminster, Southville now boasts a thriving independent restaurant and bar scene, as well as becoming an emerging arts hub, pioneered by the live graffiti festival Upfest and proximity to renowned gallery Spike Island.
Despite being South of the River, Southville is only a short walk away from the harbourside and the city’s centre.
Southville is perfect for young families looking to relocate. As it is within close proximity of a multitude of primary schools, from nearby Victoria Park to Ashton Gate School – and the family-friendly fun of the Tobacco Factory and the M Shed.
Bedminster is a popular and traditional Bristol neighbourhood located on the south side of the city. It shares a border with trendy Southville to the north, with Windmill Hill to the east and Bedminster Down to the south.
The area has actually changed a lot over the last few years with prominent landmark buildings such as Airpoint on West Street and the Robinson Building, just off East Street, being developed, as well as numerous other developments which have created new home possibilities in townhouses and apartments.
There are still plenty of terraced properties remaining from the Victorian era as well, with many of them having been converted into multi-person occupancies.
The area is vibrant with two main shopping streets and the local BV Studios attracting a lot of artists and young professionals.
Brislington and Knowle, BS4
Brislington and Knowle are situated next to each in the south east of Bristol, with the former having been visited by King Henry VII during the 15th century, and the former having been recorded in the 11th century Domesday Book under its original spelling of Canole.
Brislington has two major developments that have been converted into studios used by various creative industries and small startups; the Paintworks and Here, both located on the Bath Road (A4). This combination makes the population of the two areas’ combined postcode of BS4 consist of a particularly eclectic mix of people.
Modern day Knowle is well known for its numerous community groups and the Broadwalk shopping centre, which is scheduled for a major redevelopment bringing new flats and shops to this vibrant part of south Bristol.
The River Avon tributary Brislington Brook, formerly known as the Froome, runs directly across the northern border of Brislington through the woodlands of Nightingale Valley.
Famous for it’s brightly coloured houses that create one of Bristols best views, Totterdown is also a great area to view Bristol from.
It was named “fifth hippest place to live in the UK” by the Times newspaper in 2016. It is home to the creative hub Paintworks which is a complex of creative and design based businesses, alongside a large assortment of apartments and houses to live in.
It’s a very popular area for young families due to the local schools, local parks and friendly atmosphere created by its residents.
St George BS5
With five schools in the area of St George West, it has become an increasingly popular area for first time families as well as first time buyers; if you’re either it should definitely be on your list of areas to consider. Its average house price is on the rise but currently stands at £240,000
If you like green spaces then it has a great centrepiece in St George’s Park, which has a children’s play area, tennis courts, a skate park, and hosts the areas summertime music festival Redfest.
For your local amenities Church Road is the place to go, having seen lots of development in the last few years. It now sports an artisan bakery, an organic food shop and a great selection of cafe’s, pubs and restaurants.
As the name suggests is in the Eastern side of the city and has become a sought after area to buy in, with an average house price of £230,000.
It has become synonymous with the artist Banksy due to several of his graffiti works being in the area, and has a diverse and bohemian culture that has attracted creative types to the area. Its strong sense of community and environmental awareness make it very appealing to the ethically minded buyer.
As well as its great selection of eateries it’s also home to the much loved Bristol Sweet Mart, the independently owned, cultural supermarket. If you want to try some award winning cakes then pop into East Bristol Bakers, which has an excellent selection of bread, cakes and cookies.
Montpelier has fast become one of the most popular areas for buyers and renters moving from outside of Bristol, and with young professionals. Close to the nightlife and cultural hub that is Stokes Croft, with a multicultural and eclectic community of creatives, and an urban vibe, Montpelier is great for those who love to live in the inner city. Plus, you can still snap up plenty of those beautiful Grade-II listed Georgian terraces, but as significantly cheaper prices than in Clifton.
Although Montpelier has proved more popular with a younger crowd, it is more than suitable for families, with 5 schools situated within its vicinity; 4 primary schools and a single-sex, female, secondary school.
Cotham and St Andrew’s, BS6
Cotham is a prosperous and leafy suburb situated near the centre of Bristol between St. Paul’s and Clifton. As a cosmopolitan area it features a lot of large old houses many of which have been converted into multi-person occupancies.
St Andrew’s is immediately to the east of Cotham and was developed in the late 19th century, thus it consists mostly of large Victorian villas with only some housing built during the interwar period. St Andrew’s is particularly well served by public transport thanks to the multiple buses that alight along Gloucester Road and travel all over the rest of the city.
Both areas contain lots of small independent shops.
Redland and Westbury Park, BS6
Redland is another affluent suburb in the north-central part of Bristol, and particularly known as a popular accommodation area for second and third year university students. The buildings are mostly from the Georgian era with over twenty houses in the area classed as Grade II or Grade II* listed buildings.
The architecture of Westbury Park consists mostly of Victorian era and early twentieth-century designs, although there is a small selection of Georgian buildings too. Many of the Victorian era buildings are still adorned with their original house names, adding an authentically historical feel to the area.
There are several schools spread out across both areas making it a popular place for families to live.
Clifton is often the first place people think of when moving to Bristol. Although made famous by its grand Georgian terraces, Regency crescents and picturesque garden squares, Clifton’s got inner beauty too, with a vibrant array of pubs, restaurants and boutique bars.
Clifton is one of the most remarkable areas in Bristol, with it being the home of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton Cathedral, Bristol Zoo and Clifton Down. With its location along the River Avon, it is a very desirable place to live and is thus home to many successful artists and architects.
A large area, Clifton runs from the edge of Avon Gorge across Durdham Downs and down Whiteladies Road to meet the lively Triangle; where Bristol University’s Gothic Wills Memorial Tower runs adjacent with the municipal Museum and Art Gallery – alongside a handful of bars and restaurants.
Due to its popularity, most properties are let out as leasehold flats.
Clifton is within the catchment for a range of school options, from preparatory, preschools and Catholic schools, to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the University of Bristol’s Law School.
Directly south of Clifton and about a mile from the city centre is Hotwells, the Bristol district that takes it name from the hot springs bubbling up from under the rocks of the Avon Gorge near the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Much of the housing in Hotwells fell into disrepair during the first half of the twentieth century, but over the last fifty years there has been a lot of refurbishment of the older Georgian properties as well as the housing developments of Rownham Mead and Poole’s Wharf, built on the previously derelict dockside wharves.
Failand and Leigh Woods, BS8
Failand is a quaint village that technically lies in the northernmost tip of Somerset and consists of two separate parts including an older and smaller area about a mile away from the larger and newer area.
Similarly, Leigh Woods is a village just outside of the boundary of the city of Bristol and is located directly beneath Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve which is a two-square-kilometre area of woodland that makes the village an ideal residence for nature lovers.
The two villages are not overrun with amenities, but both are connected to bustling Clifton Village via the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge (£1 for cars but free to pedestrians and cyclists). They also have very active communities as well as a post office combined with a general store, nice country pubs and village halls. Failand is also home to an observatory.
Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym, BS9
Henleaze is a northern suburb of the city of Bristol that was mostly redeveloped during the 1920s, although there are still some Edwardian era streets along its southern border. The area features local newsagents, bakeries, supermarkets and a library, plus there is a cinema nearby for film fans.
The area is perhaps best known for Henleaze Lake, a flooded former quarry which for a hundred years now has been home to a renowned swimming club.
Westbury-on-Trym has a wonderful village atmosphere to it despite also boasting a number of excellent amenities, good transport links and a high street for shopping, dining and socialising.
Coombe Dingle, Sneyd Park and Stoke Bishop, BS9
Coombe Dingle is a suburb in the northwest of Bristol near where the Hazel Brook tributary of the River Trym emerges from a limestone gorge. It is a pretty small area but does contain some interesting shops along Westbury Lane.
Sneyd Park features a lot of Victorian and Edwardian properties and has become something of a millionaire’s haven over the years. Some modern housing has also been built at the northern end of town.
Stoke Bishop is one of the bigger suburbs in Bristol and is home to a large Bristol University halls of residence, which contributes to a fluctuating population over the course of a year. The University’s sports complex is located here and the area is also home to a variety of other sporting venues as well as numerous listed buildings.
Southmead and Henbury, BS10
Southmead is a suburb at the northern end of Bristol surrounded by other suburbs such as Monks Park, Horfield, Henleaze and Westbury-on-Trym. The South Gloucestershire town Filton also lies by its boundary. The River Trym itself rises in Southmead and runs southwest through the local nature reserve, Badock’s Wood.
Another nearby suburb, Henbury lies about five miles northwest of Bristol city centre and is close to the sprawling entertainment and shopping mecca of Cribbs Causeway. There is a tributary of the River Trym that flows through Henbury, called the Hazel Brook, and actually crosses Henbury Road via a small ford located near The Salutation pub. At the southern end of the suburb is Henbury Golf Club.
Avonmouth, Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston, BS11
The rectangular-shaped port of Avonmouth is a suburb on the outskirts of Bristol. The area is an important part of Bristol’s maritime economy especially for the export of large and heavy goods. A junction in the southern part of Avonmouth connects it to the M5 motorway and the Port Way which follows the river Avon into the Cumberland Basin and Hotwells and Clifton.
Established as a separate parish in 1844, Shirehampton underwent major redevelopment almost a hundred years later after it was successfully targeted by the Luftwaffe during the Bristol Blitz of 1941. Shirehampton is also where you will find the Avonmouth Sewage Works Nature Reserve, a 10-hectare reserve featuring man-made lagoons and rough grassland.
Located at the edge of the Severn flood plain, Lawrence Weston is an entirely post-war housing estate in northwest Bristol near both Avonmouth and Shirehampton. The estate started as a hamlet but was transformed after the war.
Bedminster Down and Bishopsworth, BS13
Bishopsworth is a largely residential Bristol suburb towards the south of the city. Formerly a civil parish, Bishopsworth was absorbed into Bristol during the early 1930s, with the civil parish being officially abolished in 1951. Bishopsworth has an estimated population of between 11,000 and 12,000, with local facilities including a variety of shops and pubs, as well as a swimming pool and a public library. The area also boasts several listed buildings such as Bishopsworth Manor and Chestnut Court.
Bedminster Down was developed as a suburb during the 1930s and is another largely residential area, with many of the estates built over disused coal mines. The area also contains multiple churches from various Christian denominations.
Hengrove and Whitchurch, BS14
Situated between Whitchurch, Knowle and Bishopsworth, Hengrove is a well-placed suburb that runs along two dual carriageways, the A37 and the A4174 (also known as Airport Road within Bristol). Featuring a lot of terraced houses home to many families, Hengrove usefully contains an infant, primary and secondary school. The area is also home to the disused Whitchurch Airport, which has been converted into an entertainment centre with pubs and a cinema.
Whitchurch is a village technically located in northern Somerset, though is an adjoined suburb of southern Bristol. The A37 – or Wells Road as it is known within Bristol – passes through Whitchurch and links Bristol with the city of Dorchester.
Hanham and Kingswood, BS15
The suburb Hanham is located in the south-eastern part of the city and is actually in the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire. It became a civil parish just sixteen years ago and is considered part of Bristol due to it being within Bristol’s urban subdivision. The population during the 2011 census was 6,128, with local alumni including writer and comedian Stephen Merchant who was born here.
Kingswood is a suburban area in South Gloucestershire, located about three and a half miles east of Bristol’s city centre. The name comes from the forest that used to be here during Saxon and Norman times, which was a royal hunting estate surrounding the whole of Bristol.
Fishponds, Frenchay and Staple Hill, BS16
Towards the north-eastern part of Bristol, you will find the interestingly named Fishponds, a large suburb about three miles from the city centre. The name derives from when the area was once a quarry district, and which would be filled with water and fished. Fishponds features not one but two Victorian-era parks, with one containing a large boating lake and wildlife reserve.
Nearby Frenchay is a village located mainly in South Gloucestershire featuring a common as well as three Grade II-listed buildings. These include Frenchay Manor House, whose existence to some degree was first recorded in 1257.
Staple Hill also lies in South Gloucestershire but is considered part of Bristol too. It is due east of Fishponds and was developed as a settlement during the eighteenth and nineteenth century when the wolves and wild boar which made the local forest dangerous became extinct. As a location, Staple Hill benefits from being close to Bristol’s ring road and by extension the M4 motorway.
Downend and Emerson Green, BS16
Downend is one of Bristol’s more affluent suburbs with the architecture favouring a lot of terraced Victorian-era housing, as well as semi-detached and detached properties built during the 1930s and 1950s. Legendary cricketer W. G. Grace was born in Downend House on North Street, with the building featuring a mural of himself overlooking the local cricket grounds.
Emersons Green is a town and parish technically within the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire, though again it is also recognised as being part of Bristol. Prior to the 1990s, the area was mostly farmland and has thus been recently developed into a residential area over the last three decades. Emersons Green is known for Bristol and Bath Science Park situated adjacent to the M4 motorway and the A4174 ring road.
Portishead is a coastal town situated on the Severn Estuary within the unitary district of North Somerset and the ceremonial county of Somerset. It is very close to Bristol and due to the fast-growing population is now considered a dormitory town for Bristol and its environs.
Evidence of a prehistoric settlement have been discovered in Portishead, though the town’s first official record of existence dates from Roman times. In the modern era, Portishead was long known as a popular fishing port before power stations and chemical works arrived during the twentieth century. The dock and industrial facilities have since closed, but considerable development has seen the area re-imagined as a marina with surrounding residential estates.
For more information on Bristol, read our guides:
- Moving to Bristol: An Introduction
- 10 Reasons to Move to Bristol
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Moving to Bristol
- Our guide to the best schools in Bristol
- What to do in Bristol
- Removals in Bristol