A Guide to Living in Harrogate from Linley & Simpson

Harrogate is described by many as a "southern town in the north", and its trendy boutiques and shops - plus a wealth of excellent restaurants and trendy bars – nicely adds weight to this concept.

Over the last century, Harrogate has seen its reputation develop from that of genteel spa town, famed for its healing waters and elegant town centre hotels, to a thriving, cosmopolitan conference venue, easily accessible from all points of the country.

Its proximity to the cities of York and Leeds, together with its location close to Leeds/Bradford International Airport and the major A1/M1 link road, makes it highly desirable for commuters looking to live just a stones-throw away from open countryside.

The town is blessed with excellent schools, both at primary and senior levels, again adding to its attraction. In 2005, Channel 4's Location, Location, Location, named Harrogate as the third most desirable place to live in the UK.

Harrogate is probably best-known for its open parkland known as The Stray – or 200 Acres – very much its "jewel in its crown" and its wonderful floral displays, which only a few years ago led to Harrogate being crowned Europe's Floral Capital.

And then there is the worldfamous Betty's tearooms. No visitor to Harrogate should ever leave without first sampling the delights this family-run business has to offer. It has recently opened its second Harrogate branch at the renowned Harlow Carr Gardens on the edge of town.

As already alluded too, the town is a Mecca for shoppers. Its fabulous stores – both boutique and high-street names ensure a steady stream of visitors all year around, particularly "ladies who lunch". And because of its spa heritage, Harrogate has also become synonymous for its abundant antique shops.

Harrogate is home to the Great Yorkshire Show, the premier northern agricultural event of the calendar, which takes place over three days every July, attracting well over 100,000 visitors from all over the country.

On Harrogate's doorstep are the historical town of Knaresborough and the city of Ripon. Both pride themselves on being established in their own right well before Harrogate became a settlement.

It is also just a few miles away from the breath-taking Fountains Abbey, a spectacular World Heritage site.

Be it families, professional business people or those looking to retire within the North of England, it's fair to say Harrogate appeals to just about every audience and taste. It really has so much to offer.

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