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Head to Bristol if you want urban bustle and wild countryside on your doorstep

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There’s always been a vibrancy and edginess to Bristol. I know, because I grew up there. 

I adore the city’s diversity; from swanky Clifton with its grand Georgian mansions and great expanse of green known as The Downs, to Brunel’s Suspension Bridge, which has spanned the Avon Gorge for 150 years, and the arty Harbourside area, home to the Arnolfini art centre. 

Then there’s the West Indian community of St Paul’s, which Zoopla rates as one of the UK’s top ten hipster hangouts; and the bohemian graffiti-splashed Stokes Croft, packed with shops, bars and restaurants. 

Go west: The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol

Go west: The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol

The emigration from London to Bristol is a well-worn path. Home to Banksy and where music genre drum ’n’ bass began, Bristol is often compared with the capital for its food and arts scene. But it’s much smaller. 

Bristol has a population of 463,400 to London’s 8.9 million, which makes it an altogether friendlier place to live, where you’re likely to bump into old friends or, if new in town, easily make new ones. 

The standing joke with Bristol estate agents is that those moving to Bristol keep going west, later retiring to Devon or Cornwall. 

Property searches for Bristol and the South-West have soared during lockdown. The desire for easy access to the countryside was identified as of ‘great importance’ to buyers in a survey from property group Savills (savills.co.uk). 

So with the pleasures of Devon, Cornwall and The Cotswolds on its doorstep, Bristol is an obvious choice. The survey also revealed that for 61 per cent of under 40s a separate workspace at home is now a prerequisite. 

Ashley Day, director of Bristol Property Centre (bristolproperty centre.co.uk), agrees: ‘Space to create a home office is a new one to us but, with more people looking to work from home in the future, it’s sure to remain a priority.’ For value for money, Day’s advice is to look just beyond the city centre. 

He says: ‘St George, ­Redfield, Brislington, Southville and Bedminster are all good options. 

Bristol’s always been good for independent traders, and Church Road in St George and North Street in ­Southville has a great selection of bistros, bars, delis and shops.’

So what do you get for your money?

You will need about £150,000 to £200,000 for a one or two-bedroom flat. A one-bedroom Victorian garden flat in St George is available with Ocean estate agents (oceanhome. co.uk) at £179,000, or a modern, high-spec two-bedroom groundfloor flat in Brislington at £210,000, is for sale with Connells (connells. co.uk). 

If your budget stretches further, a two-bedroom house with garden in ­Southville, near popular North Street, could be yours for £320,000 with Knight Frank (knightfrank.co.uk). 

Although Bristol has plenty of green spaces, the desire for large gardens is taking many buyers to the outskirts of the city, says Richard Brooks, Savills’s head of residential sales in the south-west. 

A good example of this is the three-bedroom cottage circa 1879 with two-storey extension, garden and views over fields in the village of Abbots Leigh (three miles west of the city centre). 

Q&A with property expert Ross Clark

I carried on paying my mortgage when I was furloughed in April, even though it was a struggle. 

Now I am afraid I will be made redundant.  Is it too late to apply for a mortgage holiday? 

A: No, the deadline for applying for a mortgage holiday has been extended to October 31. 

Up until this date you can apply to your mortgage lender to reduce or suspend your repayments for a three-month period. You should think carefully before doing so, however. 

During your ‘holiday’, interest will continue to be charged. That sum will then be added to your outstanding debt and either your payments will increase or the term of your mortgage might be extended. 

The best thing is to talk to your lender and see if you can come up with an arrangement where you pay as much as you can afford, without reducing your payments to zero. 

The danger is that if you get out of the habit of repaying a mortgage you may receive a shock when the ‘holiday’ comes to an end. For most people, that looks like being January.

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It also has a summer house that could be adapted into a home office and is on at £695,000 through Savills. 

Brooks, however, says that the city market remains the strongest. 

‘Clifton and Redland are attractive, particularly for those looking for period features. Anything requiring work sells the quickest.’ 

With the highest price brackets, large period properties in Clifton and Leigh Woods can sell up to £3.5million. 

More typical, a four-bedroom renovated period family home with small garden in ­Redland is on at £985,000 with Savills, or a Victorian five-bedroom semi-detached house with garden in Cotham is £1.2million with Goodman & Lilley (goodmanlilley.co.uk). 

Looking towards the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, estate agents say that they’ll be working on new ways to engage with clients, providing video tours of properties before clients set foot in a place. 

Take a virtual tour of The Boot Factory in St George, where a beautifully converted brick-built Victorian ground-floor twobedroom apartment, with courtyards at both front and rear, is available at £275,000 through Knight Frank. Going west has never looked better. 

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