Essex has a lot going for it in property investment terms. It’s part of the buoyant south east economy. Which means it attracts lots of business investment.  It’s very popular with people moving out of London,  and close enough to attract lots of London commuters too.

But, generally, it’s less fashionable than the areas to the south and west of London and so property is cheaper, significantly cheaper in many cases. As London expands it’s very likely that the economy and the property market in Essex will expand too offering good opportunities for property developers and buy to let investors.

Here are five locations in Essex that we think property investors should take a look at:

Colchester. Although 60 miles from London good transport connections and proximity to Stansted Airport have made it popular with commuters. ONS estimates suggest the population will rise 20% over the next few years, one of England’s fastest growing rates. Colchester is now one of the British Army’s largest bases, and an important contributor to the local economy.

Current average property price. approx. £232,000. (Land registry figures correct at date of publication.)

Chelmsford. One of the UK’s smaller cities (it only gained city status in 2012) Chelmsford is something of an undiscovered gem in south east property terms. It offers a good quality of life yet is readily commutable to London (35 minutes). There are plans to establish Chelmsford as a regional capital city, with thousands of new houses to satisfy the demand for homes here.

Current average property price in Chelmsford approx. £300,000.

” The population of Essex is expected to increase from 1.4m to 1.65m by 2025. ONS figures.”

” Basildon, Harlow, Braintree and Southend are amongst the ‘top ten most affordable London commuting locations. The Telegraph”

Harlow. Harlow is one of those one-time new towns that suffers from a somewhat unfashionable image, and which has helped to keep property prices down in the past. Harlow’s Enterprise Zone has been set up to attract ICT, advanced manufacturing and life sciences businesses to the town and make it, in some ways, an overspill for nearby booming Cambridge. Definitely one to watch.

Current average property price in Harlow approx. £247,000.

Basildon. Basildon is already something of a south east investment hotspot. According to Invest Essex the Basildon and Brentwood area has the second largest economy in the Thames Gateway area after Canary Wharf. There are around 6,5000 businesses here employing over 75,000 people including, crucially, several major multinational companies.

From 2019 Basildon and nearby Shenfield will have a fast, direct Crossrail service to and through London which are sure to make the area even more attractive than it already is.

Current average property price approx. £275,000.

Southend. Southend is another one of those locations that suffers from something of an unfashionable image. But that’s something that usually conspires to make property in the area quite undervalued, which it does here. According to the local authority there’s a huge shortage of affordable accommodation, making it a good possible opportunity for bargain basement investors.

Current average property price in Southend aprox. £240,000.

Thurrock. The borough of Thurrock is one of the best connected and most industrious places in the south east. Yet it is also one of, if not the, lowest property priced areas in the area around London. The area is tipped for huge industrial and commercial expansion – Lord Heselltine’s Thames Estuary Growth Commission 2050 will shortly start work here. Plus it’s likely a new tunnel will be built under the Thames to link Essex to Kent.

Current average property price. approx. £243,000.