The London exodus: top schools, the best areas and new homes for first-time buyers in Tonbridge
Why buy in Tonbridge and Malling, Kent
Average first-time buyer spend: £331,340, which would buy a two- to three-bedroom Victorian or Edwardian terrace house. A four-bedroom Thirties semi is £500,000 to £550,000, says Ben Hosmer, sales manager at Freeman Forman.
Annual price increase: -0.9 per cent.
Proportion of homes sold to first-time buyers: 17 per cent.
The commute: great for City workers. Services to London Bridge take from 35 minutes. An annual season ticket costs from £3,340.
Schools: Kent is synonymous with great selective schools and Tonbridge Grammar School is the glittering prize. There are also exceptionally good feeder schools for younger pupils, including St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary School and Woodlands Junior School.
What’s new? There are no major new developments right now, but Tonbridge does have a series of small boutique schemes including One Three Three High Street, with 14 apartments priced from £230,000 to £350,000 (savills.com).
The lowdown: often overlooked in favour of better-known commuter dormitories such as Sevenoaks, Tonbridge is not chichi — but it is better value.
Commuters are flocking to Tonbridge for its excellent schools and good-value homes (Alamy Stock Photo)
This traditional market town’s kerb appeal is upped by its position beside the River Medway, and its 13th-century castle, but there is also the excellent 165-acre Haysden Country Park, while the lovely expanses of High Weald are just to the south.
The town centre is stacked with pubs, cafés and restaurants, including Tonbridge Old Fire Station and Verdigris, which enjoys a prime riverside location.
However, the range of shops isn’t brilliant. “There has been an improvement in the area, there is a Waitrose now, and the train line has always been quicker than from Tunbridge Wells,” says Freeman Forman’s Ben Hosmer.
“It is a way of living in the country but still being less than 40 minutes from London.”