The North West region of England has seen its popularity soar in recent years, here we consider the best places to live in Cheshire, which is perhaps one of the most cosmopolitan counties in the region.
Offering peaceful countryside living and beautiful waterways, the county also has Chester’s lively cathedral city, with its University, and some buzzy towns offering fantastic shopping and nightlife.
Home to the famous Cheshire Golden Triangle — an area known for the highly desirable towns and villages — Cheshire is noted for its large homes, the lifestyle on offer and the many notable residents who live there.
- Education: at least four of the primary schools in the Knutsford catchment area are rated Good by Ofsted. Two secondary level, public Academies: Knutsford Academy and Cheshire Studio School, are also rated Good. The leading co-educational independent Cransley School is just 8 miles (13 km) away near Northwich;
- Transport links: Knutsford is in a rural location, yet only a mile or two from the arterial M6 motorway, which goes South to the Midlands and North to the Scottish border. Its road transport links in the North West of England and nationally are excellent. Central London is approximately 185 miles (298 km) by road—a drive of roughly three and a half hours, depending on traffic;
- Trains: from the mainline railway station at Knutsford, there are frequent services to Manchester Piccadilly (around 45 minutes away), Chester, Stockport, Altrincham and Northwich.
Why live in Knutsford?
Thanks to its excellent regional and national road links, local schools’ quality and academic performance, and its easy access to the Cheshire countryside, Knutsford is a very popular place to live.
Knutsford’s appeal as a place to live has previously been summed up in two words: “classy” and “convenient”.
- Education: three primary schools in nearby Lymm, just 6 miles (9.7 km) away, are rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Two public sector secondary-level Academies (for pupils up to the end of their sixth-form), Knutsford Academy and Cheshire Studio School are rated Good by Ofsted and are 3 miles (5 km) away. The independent Queen’s School in nearby Chester, 7.5 miles (12 km) away, claims to be the number one girls’ school in the region;
- Transport links: Mere is barely a mile or two from both the M6 and M56 motorways, ensuring that, for all its predominantly rural aspect, it is exceptionally well connected to the regional and national road networks. Manchester airport is just 9 miles (14 km) away. London is 192 miles (310 km) to the South East—a drive of about three hours and 20 minutes;
- Trains: the nearest mainline station is at Knutsford, where frequent trains to Manchester Piccadilly take around 45 minutes. From Manchester fast trains to London Euston can take as little as two hours or so.
Why move to Mere?
The village of Mere is one side of The Mere (an Old English word for lake) and Tatton Park the other. Both are decidedly up-market residential areas set in beautifully landscaped scenery.
The walk around the 1,000-acre deer park of stately Tatton Park, for example, is splendid.
Mere not only has its own sense of character and community but is exceptionally well connected by road links to the whole of the North West, including the conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool, and even London remains easily accessible by road or rail.
- Education: there are two primary schools rated Outstanding by Ofsted in the Alderley Edge catchment area. The local public sector secondary school, Wilmslow High School, is rated Good by Ofsted. Alderley Edge School for Girls is a highly regarded independent day school for girls aged 2 to 18;
- Transport links: Alderley Edge is roughly 6 miles (10 km) equidistant from Macclesfield to the South East and Manchester Airport to the North West. At Manchester Airport there is a junction with the M56 motorway. Junctions with the M6 motorway (for Manchester and Liverpool to the North and the Midlands and London to the South) lie about the same distance away to the West;
- Trains: Alderley Edge is on the mainline between Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly, with the latter reached in less than 30 minutes.
Why live in Alderley Edge?
Alderley Edge is so-called thanks to the dramatic sandstone escarpment of the same name.
It is the site of the oldest known metal-mining area in England, with the earliest such activities recorded in 1900 BC.
The natural features of the escarpment are today managed by the National Trust, which preserves the essentially rural aspect of the small community of Alderley Edge.
It is especially well connected to the North West in general and the rest of the country, thanks to its links by road, rail, and air.
As we noted elsewhere, Alderley Edge is the tip of Cheshire’s “Golden Triangle” of the most desirable locations with Wilmslow and Prestbury forming the other two tips.
- Education: Prestbury Primary School was rated Good by Ofsted at its most recent inspection in February 2020. Just two miles (3.2 km) away in Macclesfield is Fallibroome Academy, a secondary-level public sector Academy rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The King’s School, also in Macclesfield, is a highly regarded co-educational (ages 3 to 18) independent day school, founded in 1502;
- Transport links: Prestbury is a village just 5 miles (8 km) away from Alderley Edge and two miles (3.2 km) from the town of Macclesfield. Prestbury is in the foothills of the Pennines, yet still close to both the M56 (at Manchester Airport) and M5 (for Liverpool to the North and London to the South);
- Trains: mainline rail services from Prestbury station run to Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly—the latter, a journey of around half an hour.
Why live in Prestbury?
Prestbury sits on the banks of the River Bollin as it flows down from the Pennines and is an ancient settlement dating back to at least the Anglo-Saxons.
It is not only close to the conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool, but close to the Peak District National Park and the towns and cities to the East of the Pennines.
Together with Alderley Edge and Wilmslow, Prestbury forms the three points of Cheshire’s “Golden Triangle” containing the county’s most desirable addresses.
- Education: within Wilmslow’s catchment area there are four primary schools rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The secondary modern (co-educational, for ages 11 to 18), Wilmslow High School is rated Good by Ofsted. Just 9 miles (14.5 km) away in Macclesfield is the highly regarded co-educational, independent King’s College, founded in 1502;
- Transport links: Wilmslow is in the countryside approximately 9 miles (14.5 km) equidistant between Stockport to the North East and Macclesfield to the South East. It is only 4.7 miles (7.5 km) from Manchester Airport, giving access to the M56 motorway towards a junction with the North-South M6 motorway and on to North Wales. London is approximately 199 miles (320 km) to the South—a drive of roughly three and a half to four hours;
- Trains: Wilmslow station is on the main Crewe to Manchester line with the journey to Manchester Piccadilly taking approximately half an hour.
Is Wilmslow a good place to live?
Along with its neighbours, Prestbury and Alderley Edge, this part of Cheshire offers some of the most desirable residences.
The village lies outside the boundaries of the Greater Manchester conurbation, yet is still only 11 miles (17 km) or so from the city centre.
If you work in Manchester, the commute is easy and straightforward, with plenty of excellent schools in the neighbourhood.
- Education: at least five primary schools within the Chester catchment area are rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Three miles (5 km) from the centre of the city, Christleton High School, a public sector secondary school with some 1,300 students aged 11 to 18, is rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The independent Queen’s School, for girls aged 4 to 18, is highly regarded and sits within Chester’s city walls. Chester University has several campuses in the area offering a wide range of study options;
- Transport links: Chester has excellent regional—and national—links to the motorway network. It is only a mile or two for access to the M56 North East to Manchester and to the West into North Wales. It’s also close to the M53 motorway North to Liverpool. London is 198 miles (319 km) to the South East—a drive taking around four hours;
- Trains: Chester is especially well served by rail services, with trains to Liverpool (Lime Street and Central), Manchester Piccadilly, Crewe, Holyhead, and Wolverhampton. Liverpool, for example, is around 45 minutes away by rail and Manchester a little over one hour.
Why live in Chester?
Chester is an ancient city dating back to at least the Roman era (when it went by the name Deva Victrix).
Today, the walled cathedral city is the second most populated town in Cheshire (after Warrington) and serves as the county’s administrative centre.
A historic yet vibrant city in its own right, Chester is close to—and ideal for commuters—to both Liverpool and Manchester.
- Education: Mobberley Church of England Primary School is rated Outstanding by Ofsted. In nearby Altrincham, 6.8 miles (11 km) away, Saint Ambrose College is a selective, public sector Roman Catholic grammar school rated Good by Ofsted. Altrincham is also home to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, both of which are rated Outstanding by Ofsted;
- Transport links: Mobberley is roughly 4.3 miles (7 km) equidistant from Knutsford to the South-West and Alderley Edge to the South-East. It is approximately the same distance from both the M56 and M6 motorways. Central London is some 197 miles (317 km) to the South—a drive of around three and a half to four hours;
- Trains: Mobberley railway station is on the mainline between Chester, around one hour away, and Manchester Piccadilly, around 45 minutes.
Why move to in Mobberley?
Mobberley is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 by the name of “Motburlege”, so it has a long history.
The small but active village is surrounded by farmland with lots of green fields and wonderful walks.
Mobberley is especially well connected to the regional and national motorway networks and by rail to both Chester and Manchester.
- Education: Tarporley Church of England Primary School is rated Good by Ofsted. Tarporley High School and Sixth Form College, a co-educational, public sector secondary academy and sixth-form college, is rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The independent Queen’s School, in Chester, some 11 miles (18 km) away, is for girls aged 4 to 18 and is highly regarded;
- Transport links: Tarporley is in the heart of the Cheshire countryside approximately 11 miles (18 km) equidistant from Northwich to the North East and Chester to the North West. Chester provides access to the M56 motorway. A little outside Northwich, there is the North-South M6 motorway. London is approximately 192 miles (309 km) South—a drive of around three and a half hours, depending on traffic;
- Trains: the nearest railway station is at Delamere, 5.5 miles (8.7 km), with trains to Chester taking around 20 minutes, Manchester an hour and a quarter, and Liverpool an hour and a half.
Why live in Tarporley?
Tarporley is a large village or small town that epitomises relaxed countryside living in this part of the country.
It exudes an easy familiarity and sense of community supported by a café culture, high-end boutiques and fine dining restaurants.
However, from the comfort of your rural idyll, the county town of Chester is close by, and there are excellent transport links to the major urban conurbations of Liverpool and Manchester.
- Education: Tattenhall Park Primary School is rated Good by Ofsted. 6.3 miles (10 km), on Chester’s outskirts, the public sector secondary school and sixth-form Christleton High School is rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Also, on the outskirts of Chester is the leading independent King’s School, founded in 1541;
- Transport links: Tattenhall is in the Cheshire countryside some 6.3 miles (10 km) South East of the City of Chester and 13 miles (21 km) to the North East of Wrexham. Access to the main North-South M6 motorway is just beyond Crewe – some 19 miles (30.5 km) to the East. London is approximately 191 miles (307 km) away—a drive of around nearly four hours;
- Trains: the nearest mainline station is also in Chester, which offers frequent services to Liverpool (Lime Street and Central), Manchester Piccadilly, Crewe, Holyhead, and Wolverhampton. Liverpool, for example, is around 45 minutes away by rail and Manchester a little over one hour.
Why move to Tattenhall?
It’s peaceful, in a tranquil part of Cheshire, and has probably more than its fair share of historic buildings and a great sense of community spirit.
Yet the village is only 6 miles (10 km) or so from the country hub of Chester and the Northern Powerhouse of Manchester and Liverpool.
What you probably didn’t expect in a rural location in the middle of the countryside is a marina.
Tattenhall Marina, however, offers cruising on the inland waterways of the Four Counties Ring, which takes in many picturesque sights of the North West.
- Education: two primary schools, Acton Church of England Primary Academy and Stapeley Broad Lane Church of England Primary School, are rated Outstanding by Ofsted. The public sector comprehensive secondary school, Brine Leas School, is rated Good by Ofsted. Probably the most notable independent school is the King’s School, in Chester, some 20 miles (33 km) away;
- Transport links: Nantwich is roughly 20 miles (33 km) equidistant from Chester to the North West and Stoke-on-Trent to the South-East. Immediately before arriving in Stoke is the junction with the important North-South M6 motorway. The capital is around 182 miles (293 km) to the South—a drive of about three and a half hours;
- Trains: Nantwich railway station is on the mainline between Crewe and Shrewsbury, with services to Manchester Piccadilly and Cardiff Central. Manchester is a journey of about one hour.
Why live in Nantwich?
On the southern edge of the Cheshire plain, Nantwich is said to be one of the earliest settlements in the UK, dating back to at least Roman times with industries based first on salt and then on tanning.
The attractive town, replete with many fine, historic buildings, continues to occupy a strategically important stopover en route from London to Chester.
It also has good transport links to the regional and national motorway networks.
- Education: Malpas Alport Endowed Primary School is rated Good by Ofsted. Also, in the public sector, the secondary modern comprehensive Bishop Heber High School in Malpas is rated Outstanding by Ofsted;
- Transport links: Malpas is roughly 12 miles (19 km) equidistant from Wrexham, across the border in Wales, to the West and Nantwich to the East. North via Chester leads to the M53 motorway to Liverpool and the M56 to Manchester. The main North-South M6 motorway is 26 miles (42 km) to the East near Stoke-on-Trent;
- Trains: the nearest mainline station, 5 miles (8 km), is at Whitchurch, across the border in Shropshire, with trains to Manchester Piccadilly, Carmarthen in Wales, Crewe, and Shrewsbury.
Why live in Malpas?
Malpas is located on the North Wales borders and the English county of Shropshire.
Malpas is described as having a thriving community, with many independent shops, local services, voluntary sector organisations, and community groups.
Although predominantly rural, it has excellent road and rail connections to North Wales, the North West, and the English Borders.
- Education: there are at least three primary schools in Macclesfield that are rated Outstanding by Ofsted. At secondary level (up to the age of 18), All Hallows Catholic College and Fallibroome Academy are also rated Outstanding by Ofsted in the public sector. There is a highly regarded co-educational, independent school in Macclesfield, The King’s College;
- Transport links: Macclesfield is on the Peak District National Park’s western edge, thus strategically situated for transport links both East and West of the Pennines. To the North West is Altrincham, the M56 motorway and road links to the North West. To the South West lies Buxton in the heart of the Peak District. London is approximately 175 miles (281 km) to the South East—a drive of around four hours;
- Trains: trains from Macclesfield run to Manchester Piccadilly to the North and Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham to the South. Services to Manchester take less than half an hour.
Is Macclesfield a good place to live?
Macclesfield enjoys the Peak District’s scenic beauty immediately to the East and the whole of the Cheshire Plain to the West.
Macclesfield offers both country living and city-centre working, with Manchester less than half an hour’s train ride away.
Together with its bustling historic streets lined with independent shops, cafes and restaurants, and outstanding schools nearby, it may be little wonder that Macclesfield was recently found to be among the happiest places to live in the whole of Northern England.
Best places to live in Cheshire
As property finders, we often assist clients in deciding the best places to live in Cheshire based on their requirements and preferences.
If you would like to talk with one of our expert buying agents, please do get in contact with Garrington.