It lies east of Central London and south of the city of Chelmsford. Nearby smaller towns include Billericay to the north, Wickford northeast and South Benfleet to the east. It was created as a new town after World War II in 1948 to accommodate the London population overspill, from the conglomeration of four small villages, namely Pitsea, Laindon, Basildon and Vange. The new town took the name Basildon as it was the most central of the four.
Some of Basildon's residents work in Central London due to the town being well connected in the county to the City of London and the Docklands financial and corporate headquarters districts, with a 36-58 minute journey from the three Basildon stations to London Fenchurch Street. Basildon also has access to the City via road, on the A127, and A13.