It isn’t all like the television programme The Only Way Is Essex. The county is gutsy, unsnobby, entrepreneurial and unavoidably full of people who work in finance and the City because the trains dash into Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street, conveniently close to the City.
Expensive areas are on the rim of London around Brentwood, Ingatestone and Shenfield. As you work your way deeper into the countryside you find enchanting villages with timbered cottages and medieval jettied houses. One of the prettiest market towns is Saffron Walden. Look for more affordable housing around Chelmsford, Braintree, Basildon and Colchester.
It has a long atmospheric coastline with jaunty seaside resorts like Southend-on-Sea or more refined Frinton; there are lots of estuaries, marsh, and rivers like the Blackwater and Crouch where the yacht clubs come alive in the summer and seafood restaurants sell local mussels.
It has some of the best grammar schools in the country and good independent schools to match. Stansted Airport and the newly expanded Southend airport connect it to the rest of the world.
Journey times vary from 29 to 93 minutes.
Essex is connected to the rest of southeast England by the M25, M11, A12, A127 & A13.
Surrounding counties are Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the south and London to the southwest.