10 reasons to live in Exeter


This week we visit Exeter and Local editor Emma takes us through the finer points of her city.

From quayside attractions by the water to cafes offering a cinematic experience, Exeter certainly offers something a little different. Here are Emma's top 10 reasons to live in Exeter.




1. Thing about the area

Exeter is big enough to keep finding diverse new gems but small enough to feel as though you belong. As the county town of Devon, it's plonked right in the middle of clean beaches, sweeping moors and lush valleys full of scones and cider... yes, it really is that gorgeous. Exonians can't help but smile, and the place has a lot of heart.

  • "Exeter is the 'City in the Country'. It's friendly and forward-looking, but full of history and culture. It's also big enough to be vibrant but small enough to get to know really well. And close to lovely beaches with easy access to Dartmoor National Park." tempo


2. Child-friendly caferealmccoy

In the city centre, try the silent cinema in the Real McCoy Cafe, where you can borrow earphones and take in a movie with your burger and shake. If your kids are old enough, you can sneak off to browse the eclectic boutiques in the Fore Street Arcade until the credits roll! Further out of town, Cafe at 36 offers story-telling sessions after school whilst parents relax with a slab of lemon drizzle.


3. Child-free night out

Cocktails and a show at the intimate Bike Shed Theatre & Bar. If the cocktails are powerful enough to make you feel 10 (alright, 20) years younger, while Timepiece in the city centre has three themed floors of good music until the wee small hours.

  • "If you want a posh meal out, go to The Conservatory. Be warned though, the puddings are huge so three courses is a challenge." LCMoule


4. Outside space

Exeter Quayside offers a visitor centre, cafes, shops and galleries all overlooking the water plus a playpark known locally as the pirate swings. Hire a kayak or bike (the terrain is flat!) to explore the canal basin on a sunny day, or try Clip & Climb and ten-pin bowling if it's raining.

  • "We went to Heavitree Park today for the first time – wish we'd known there was a paddling pool, we would have taken towels!" LCMoule


5. Hidden gem

St Leonard's Magdalen Road has some of the best shops and eateries in the city, all clustered together in one spot. Leaf Street's pre-loved, premium label clothing basement is a thing of bargainous joy.


6. Community venue

Right on the Cathedral Green is our beautiful Hub, offering a vast menu of affordable, accessible events. Within a few hours you'll have baked a cake pop, eaten a Ramadan dinner, massaged a baby (please bring your own) and found new friends.


7. Free visitor attractionraam

Hands down, the best free visitor attraction is the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (known to locals as the RAMM).

Re-opened in 2012 after extensive refurbishment and promptly awarded Museum of the Year, it's brilliantly laid out so that every exhibit contains something suitable for all ages.

I can admire beautiful costumes in the World Cultures room whilst my toddler plays in the toy snug, or browse the gallery whilst my 10 year old creates her own art on a nearby lightbox.

Younger children can borrow a free 'busy bee' case full of dressing-up clothes and explorer's kits. And best of all, I can dress up as Cleopatra.


8. Day out

The city's too small for a large attraction, but just East is Crealy Park, full of fairground rides and soft play. West is the beautiful Haldon Forest Park, with woodland play areas, magical discovery trails and incredible views of the Exe Valley.

  • "In East Devon, head to the Jurassic Coast." tempo


9. Places to live

It would be quicker to tell you where not to live. Exeter's crime rate is much lower than that of similarly sized cities, and there are only a handful of streets with a poor reputation.


At a glance

Average semi-detached house price
Exeter: £219,808
UK: £201,427

Average class size for primary schools
Exeter: 26.5 pupils 
UK: 27 pupils

Average class size for secondary schools
Exeter: 22.4 pupils 
UK: 20.5 pupils

Average salary
Exeter: £22,100
UK: £26,000

Unemployment rate
Exeter: 2.3%
UK: 7.8%

10. Places to shop

Princesshay is our newest shopping centre, with big brand names laid out in clean, shiny spaces. The older Guildhall centre is full of familiar high street shops and they've an impressive programme of market stalls and events these days.

Make time to wander down Fore Street to the city's West Quarter, where tudor buildings house hippy shops and vintage emporiums. Devon's often quaintly reluctant to follow trends, and I hope it never loses that charm, but Exeter itself has developed hugely over the last decade.

In the last 18 months we've even gained a John Lewis, don't you know, and our first Waitrose has strategically appeared right next to the Devon W.I. headquarters!

  • "Amongst the fab independents shops on Fore Street our kids love love Make Art where your kids can paint pots, t-shirts, make jewellery and lots of lovely stuff."


About Emma

I've lived in Exeter and Devon for the best part of the last 30 years, and have been a (namechanging) Mumsnetter forever. So I jumped at the chance to enthuse about the place that I love on a site that I enjoy. I have two brilliant kids aged three and 10, and as they've grown up, Mumsnet has offered me wisdom on everything from sleep deprivation through to what not to buy them for Christmas. You've even given me a stern talking to once or twice when I was 'being unreasonable' (a certain parking thread springs to mind).

Best of all, I can rely on a laugh-out-loud moment from every visit to the talk boards. Mumsnetters are brilliant and I'm proud to think that those who come to Devon & Exeter will enjoy all the hard work I've put in to their local sites.



Last updated: about 3 years ago