Living in Norwich

Living in Norwich is the ideal middle-ground between a big, busy metropolis and a small, friendly town. It strikes the perfect balance between the buzz of a student city and the peaceful calm of the countryside.

Full of creativity, energy and culture, Norwich is the UK's best kept secret – a fantastic place to explore and have some fun. Just two miles from the UEA campus, it doesn’t take long to embrace city life here.

You’ll find lots to do here just like in larger cities, however you’ll also have the security of knowing that Norwich is one of the top 10 safest places to be a student (The Telegraph 2017).

What makes Norwich unique?

  1. Norwich was England's second biggest city for more than 700 years. It's home to a 315 foot high spire – the second tallest in England!
  2. It's large enough to host lots of major events, such as literary and live music festivals, but small enough for students to quickly familiarise themselves with the many shops and tourist attractions.
  3. There is a mix of modern and traditional restaurants, live music, film and performance arts, as well as other events and activities including a relaxing river cruise.
  4. The city has numerous theatres, which range in seating capacity from 100 to 1,300 and offer wide variety of programmes, as well as one of only two dedicated puppet theatres in England that is inside a converted medieval church.

Norwich's popular attractions

There's a wealth of fun things to do and see while living in Norwich, so you'll never get bored. You'll find:

  • Historical sites. Norwich Castle was built by the Normans 900 years ago and is now a museum and art gallery.
  • Art galleries. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts holds a world-class collection of artwork and exhibitions.
  • Festivals. Norwich offers a year-round calendar of festivals, including food and drink, literature and music festivals.
  • Markets. Discover one of the largest open-air markets in England, with 200 stalls selling food, crafts and more.
  • Live music venues. You'll find top music acts performing at The Waterfront, run by the UEA Students' Union.
  • Cinemas and theatres. Norwich has four cinemas and six theatres that have a diverse programme of events all year.

Nightlife in Norwich

The city has a variety of cinemas, including an Odeon, Vue and Cinema City – an ‘art house' cinema within a Grade I listed building. As well as the latest Hollywood movies and indie films, you can also watch comedy and plays. There are range of theatres, such as the Norwich Playhouse and the Norwich Theatre Royal, that bring you the latest performances.

Sport in Norwich

While Norfolk is the fifth largest county in England, you’ll never be more than an hour from the coast where you can enjoy miles of sandy beaches and all forms of watersports, from water skiing to windsurfing.

Closer to home, you can play just about any sport in UEA's Sportspark. From swimming and working out in the gym, to indoor activities like rock climbing, squash, badminton and martial arts, and outdoor activities such as atheletics, football, hockey and tennis, you will be spoilt for choice.

Food in Norwich

You can enjoy a world of cuisines in Norwich. If you fancy dinner out, you'll find restaurants serving everything from French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Thai and Indian meals, to classic American and modern British food. There's no need to worry if you have a special dietry requirement – many places have vegetarian, vegan and halal options.

If you want to eat on campus, there are lots of supermarkets nearby to pick up your groceries. Sometimes specialist ingredients are needed to make meals from home, but you won't have a problem sourcing them. In Norwich, you'll find several Chinese and Asian supermarkets, an international food store and health food stores.

Shopping in Norwich

With two modern shopping centres – Chapelfield and Castle Mall – and an independent Jarrold department store, you'll never run out of places to buy the best high street brands. For something a little different, explore the Norwich Lanes – home to creative independent retailers. Here, you'll find an array of boutique shops running through the medieval lanes.

Elm Hill is the most intact medieval street in Norwich and has a range of craft shops and antique markets, while Magdalen Street houses vintage fashion stores, art galleries and second-hand bookshops.

Festivals and events in Norwich

Norwich became England's first UNESCO City of Literature in 2012, thanks to its inspiring literary heritage and future potential. The city offers a year-round calendar of events and festivals, including:

  • Spring and Autumn Literary Festivals, Worlds International Literature Festival, and Shakespeare Festival
  • Norwich City of Ale Festival and Norfolk Food & Drink Festival
  • Lord Mayor's Celebration - a large street procession, fireworks, music festival, funfair, outdoor theatre, comedy, dancers, street artists and more
  • Norfolk and Norwich Festival - 16 days with more than 100 performance, including music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts as well as free outdoor events

Norwich living costs

The cost of living in Norwich is 33% cheaper than London (Expatistan – Sep 2019). This is an inexpensive place to live if you're good at budgeting and find the right places to shop. After a few weeks of living in Norwich, you'll begin to know what things cost and how to budget appropriately so that you can keep track of your money.

Here's an estimated monthly budget for the main expenses you'll have, excluding your accommodation and tuition fees. If you've chosen an accommodation option with a meal plan, your estimated monthly food budget will be much lower.

  • Food – £120
  • Entertainment – £100
  • Travel (local) – £18.75
  • Clothes and toiletries – £60
  • Other expenses – £40

Travel in and around Norwich

Norwich is easy to get around on foot or by cycling, but it also has a frequent bus service that will take you around the city. There are discounted bus passes available for UEA students that you can also purchase as an INTO UEA student.

If you want to explore the UK, it takes just under two hours to get to London by train and an hour and 20 minutes to get to Cambridge. Norwich also has an international airport with regular flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Amsterdam.

Explore the UK from Norwich

Norfolk has nearly 100 miles of unspoilt coastline, with 280 square miles of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The famous Norfolk Broads are among the most important wetlands in Europe, and are a haven for rare birds, plants and insects. You can explore these unique wetlands on a Broads Tours river trip or self-drive dayboat, or stay longer as part of a relaxing boating holiday.

The Norfolk Trails network brings together more than 1,200 miles of walks and cycle routes throughout the county, ranging from nine miles to 78 miles with a choice of shorter walks, circular routes and long distance trails.

Read about more things to do in Norfolk.

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