The only way is Essex:Colchester and Basildon are emerging as new homes hotspots for London's City workers

Head to Essex for delightful villages, some of the UK's best schools and homes from £140,000...

These days it is City and Canary Wharf workers who are more likely to migrate to villages near Southend and Harwich but also Colchester, Britain's first Roman city, which still has plenty of its historic fabric intact.

Despite the Thames Estuary's industrial legacy, 70 per cent of Essex is countryside, with many delightful villages and some of the UK's best state and independent schools.

Magri Group, a notable east London developer with family roots in Bethnal Green, builds homes that young Londoners can afford.

Point Chase in the large and pretty village of Marks Tey, six miles west of Colchester, is a scheme of 21 houses and flats by Magri with attractive, thoughtful design. Prices from £140,000. Three-bedroom houses with car port cost from £250,000. Call 01206 542288 for more details.

In Colchester town centre, Angel's Courtyard is a resourceful redevelopment of seven listed buildings, transformed into apartments that overlook a medieval rear courtyard. Prices from £279,500. Call 01206 570333.

Basildon, with 35-minute trains to Fenchurch Street, is the location for a new scheme of detached four-bedroom Arts and Crafts-style houses from developer Redrow's Heritage Collection. Called St Nicholas Mews, they're priced from £409,995 and the show home launches on Saturday. Call 01268 971156. 

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