AN urban guide to the countryside has named Wivenhoe and Mersea Island as two of the best places to live in Essex.

As part of its 2023 “Top 250 Best Places to Live” series, Muddy Stilettos – which is an online women’s lifestyle website – combined with estate agents Strutt and Parker to find the best local hotspots in some of England’s most sought-after counties.

In all, eight places were listed in Essex, with Wivenhoe and Mersea Island featuring as two of Essex’s best.

Much of the reasoning for Wivenhoe’s and Mersea Island’s inclusion is the fact that Muddy Stilettos targets those looking to move to some of the more rural locations in England's counties.

But what was it about Wivenhoe and Mersea which meant it saw off other parts of Essex, like Southend, Halstead, and Braintree, which didn’t make the list?


Wivenhoe’s range of high-quality restaurants and cultural attractions were cited as two of the main plus points for the area.

An article reads: “The Olive Branch in Station Road serves up an exciting menu of Syrian vegan dishes, hit Maison Mollie for gelato, cake and milkshakes with the kids, while the brasserie, bar and restaurant at Wivenhoe House is your best bet for fine dining.

Gazette: High end – Wivenhoe House is a particularly popular venue for outingsHigh end – Wivenhoe House is a particularly popular venue for outings (Image: Newsquest)

“When the sun shines though, you’ll find most of the locals on riverside picnic tables outside the Rose and Crown pub, drinking their local brews in with the views. And for award-winning fish and chips, it’s got to be Henleys.”

The Sentinel Gallery was also pointed out as one of Wivenhoe’s cultural hotspots.

The average price for terraced homes sits at £338,762, whilst a semi-detached family house costs £328,181, and a detached property priced at £457,788.


Mersea, meanwhile, is famed for its iconic pastel-coloured beach huts, and it comes as no surprise that Muddy Stilletos saw fit to emphasise the area’s coastal lure.

Parts of the article read: “Split into east and west Mersea, the majority of the shops and restaurants (and some of the prettiest houses) are located in the west, but the entire island feels a bit under the radar – though the amount of influencers snapping selfies by pastel beach huts means it’s becoming more popular by the minute.”

The island’s oysters also come in for special acclaim.

Gazette: Unmatched – Mersea Island beach huts are known all over Essex Unmatched – Mersea Island beach huts are known all over Essex (Image: Newsquest)

West Mersea Oyster Bar, down the road from The Company Shed, is where the seafood platters are just as impressive plus you can sit outside on picnic tables in the sunshine.

“Mersea is also home to an excellent vineyard where you can enjoy tastings, plus there’s an onsite brewery, cafe, B&B, shop and even a wedding venue.

Cudmore Grove Country Park is great for windswept coastal walks and has a huge playground for kids.”

House prices are, as expected, quite steep, with the 2021 average house price reaching £492,784; most sales were for detached properties which came in at £646,000, with a semi-detached property costing £335,000.