I’ve worked for Essex County Council for around 7 years. Most people I know either work in Essex or commute to London. Which is why I thought it strange that a lot of our new starters are commuting here from London. So, I set out to investigate this new phenomenon. What’s driving people to commute to Essex? How does working in Essex compare to London? And what do our Essex-based colleagues love about living here?
Sunrise, scenery and great markets
Lead content designer, Lino Boga-Rios, joined the Service Design team a few months ago after working in Parliament. He loves his commute from east London. While it takes him around 10 minutes longer, he can "watch the sunrise, see the landscape turn from city to countryside, and of course there is always time to read." He also loves browsing around the local market and noticed that the produce is so much cheaper than the overpriced ‘farmers’ markets’ in London.
Superheroes, falafel and coffee
The newest member of our team, Chanel Chomse’s big love is food. Although she only joined us a month ago, she’s already an expert on where to get the best falafel in Chelmsford and where to get the best coffee in Colchester. She describes working in the Service Design team as "being part of a team of superheroes, with the power to influence the kind of changes that make living in Essex better for the community." Would she recommend working here? "Do it", she says – although the problems are "meaty", her colleagues are super supportive of each other.
Beaches, outdoor cinema and nature reserves
Although Bhupinder Mann lives in Essex, she commutes from Brentwood. Having worked for the council in a variety of roles since 2015, she is now a service designer. She loves Clacton beach on a cold spring morning, the outdoor cinema at Hylands House, and the wonderful nature in Thorndon Country Park and Epping Forest. Oh, and she is the expert when it comes to knowing where to get a unique low-fat coconut coffee.
From country parks to Colchester castle
Our very own Jack Ryan, developer, has been with us almost 3 months now and hails from Braintree. He loves exploring the wide open green spaces such as Hatfield Forest, Danbury Country Park and the Flitch Way. If you’d like to get to know Essex more, Jack recommends a visit to Colchester where you can explore its rich Roman history and Colchester Castle. If you like beautiful villages, try Finchingfield.
The Essex Way
Edmund Wellington, delivery manager, lives in Colchester. He loves the fact that whilst living in the town, he can jump in the car and be in the countryside or on the beach in 10 minutes. For walks, he says "you can’t beat the Essex Way which runs across the whole county from Epping Forest in the east to Harwich beach in the west." He recommends a visit to Mersea Island, which has some great beaches, lovely walks and nice cafés and restaurants. Just make sure you check the tides before you go, as you don’t want to get stuck!
Walking to work, Westcliff and Waterstones
John Newton has lived in Essex for 4 years. Before joining the Content Design team, he used to commute to London. After joining us a year and a half ago, he loves walking to work! Originally from Birmingham, John finds it a novelty living so close to the coast. He definitely recommends a visit to Westcliff, with the sweet smell of fresh doughnuts, watching silhouettes of passing freighters heading out to sea, and swimming in the crystal clear blue water (are you sure John?). You might spot John out at lunch, sitting in the café in Waterstones, watching the world go by with a good book going unread in his lap.
So, what’s unique about Essex?
Lastly, I asked my colleagues what makes Essex or Chelmsford unique. This is what they said:
I’m obsessed with the currently, quite unlovely point where the River Can and the River Chelmer meet in Chelmsford town centre. It’s ostensibly a derelict car park, but apparently it used to be known as Mesopotamia, and on election days they’d hold debates there, with the loser being thrown into the river!
It’s very flat! Great for walking and cycling, terrible for mountain climbing.
Lots of automated doors in Chelmsford. Never seen so many automated doors!
So, there you go. Life in Essex is not what it seems. If you’re considering it, Lino says, "Do it. Don’t worry about the commute. Usually it won’t take much longer than your commute in London, especially if you live in east London. You’re traveling against the flow so there’s no rush hour."