Property prices in the capital are always on the rise. Improved transport connections in the shires are making commuting more attractive. We’ve got brilliant state, independent and grammar schools. It’s no wonder more people than ever are moving to Kent. But where to settle? Or maybe you’ve already discovered this great Garden of England but are wondering where to move to next?
1. HOT-SPOT: Goudhurst
Lowdown: A quintessential Wealden village with a lovely pond and a buzzy, community feel. It is one of the highest villages in Kent, so many of the properties have amazing views. The village has all the essentials like a newsagents, post office and chemist. But some funky extras too, like the gorgeous café and curiosity shop Hamerton + Jones and the Goudhurst Inn gastro pub. The roads are a bit of a cut through and traffic can get busy at times.
Transport: Marden train station is the closest (around 10 mins drive) delivering you direct into Charing Cross or Canon Street in exactly an hour. Paddock Wood is less than 20 mins drive and trains take around 55 mins into London.
Schools: Goudhurst falls within the Cranbrook School catchment, the only mixed grammar school in the area. What’s more Goudhurst & Kilndown Primary School has an excellent reputation and an Outstanding Ofsted report. You’re spoilt for choice with independents, having Marlborough House School, Dulwich Prep Cranbrook and Saint Ronan’s Prep School (Tatler Prep School of the Year 2017/18).
Surrounds: For shopping Cranbrook, with its boutiques and cafés, is the nearest town, (just 10 mins away). Or there’s Tunbridge Wells in the opposite direction, (around 20 mins away) and a bigger destination for both high street favourites and decent independents and some good dining options.
As well as boasting three decent pubs and lots of lovely walks right from the centre of Goudhurst village, there’s also the outdoor honeypot of Bedgebury Pinetum with its walks, bike trails and family activities. Or there’s Bewl Water reservoir (which also offers everything from cycling to water sports) – making this village a brilliant spring board for all things outdoorsy.
Prices: Reflecting the popularity of this picturesque village. Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £520K
2. HOT SPOT: Plaxtol
Lowdown: This quiet and pretty Kentish ‘no through’ village, is ideally located about 5 miles between both Sevenoaks and Tonbridge and in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It was put firmly on the map after a big surge in up-market properties in and around Tonbridge pushed people out to the surrounding pictureque villages.
Transport: Less than 15 min drive to Hildenborough mainline station, with direct line to London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross London stations. Good road access to both and then onwards to A21 and M25.
Schools: Plaxtol village primary school with good Ofsted results. Sevenoaks and Tonbridge are both renowned for their secondary schools – particularly good grammar school offerings.
Surrounds: There’s a thriving village shop and Post Office, but most importantly a decent country pub in the Papermaker’s Arms. You’ve got loads of wonderful walks nearby too. Sevenoaks and Tonbridge in either direction are around 12 mins drive. Sevenoaks is a particularly stylish, small town with some decent shops and places to eat – and Knole Park, Riverhill Himalayan Gardens and Reuthe’s Nursery & Gardensall near by.
Prices: On the expensive side due to its popularity and relatively few properties, which then always sell very quickly. Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £540K
3. HOT SPOT: Langton Green
Lowdown: A family friendly, quiet, residential village, 2 miles west of Tunbridge Wells in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Transport: No station of its own but many drive into either Tunbridge Wells or Tonbridge mainline train stations (10-15 mins), with direct access to London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross.
Schools: A village primary school with Outstanding Ofsted grades. Holmewood House Prep school and 3 grammar schools (two boys, one girls) close by in Tunbridge Wells, make this a highly sought after location.
Surrounds: Excellent country pubs (we know the stuff that matters to you) The Hare and The Beacon and just up the road The George & Dragon in Speldhurst and an equally good Indian restaurant, Blue India. Shops include a local butchers and close by is the Groombridge Farm shop selling a variety of local produce.
Prices: Are slightly lower than in Tunbridge Wells, meaning more for your money in terms of house and garden size. Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £599K.
4. HOT SPOT: Hildenborough
Lowdown: A friendly village community located less than 3 miles north of Tonbridge and less than 5 miles South of Sevenoaks.
Transport: It’s own mainline station has direct trains to London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross. Easy and quick road access to the A21, leading to the M25 within 5-10 mins (Bluewater shopping centre, anyone?). Good bus links in both directions – Bromley to the North and Tunbridge Wells to the South.
Schools: The village has two primary schools with Good Ofsted results, then there’s Fosse Bank prep school (offering very competitive fees for an independent school) and the good-all-rounder Hilden Grange Prep school. There is also Sackville school, a co-ed secondary day school.
Surrounds: Day to day shopping is covered by a One Stop shop with Post Office, a local chemists, a hairdressers and a weekly farm shop in the village hall. Bringing a bit of a buzz to the area local legend, Dame Kelly Holmes created The 1809 Hub in Hildenborough which is a cool café-cum-pop-up space with The Kent Running Coach just launching upstairs.
In fact, fitness fanatics are spoilt for choice with both Nizels Golf and Country Club just up the road and Hilden Park Golf and Leisure Club offering a gym and 9 hole golf course.
Families have got Hever Castle and its brilliant outdoor play areas (built like a real medieval fort), golf club (yes, who knew?) and year-round activities just a short drive away.
Prices: Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £635K
5. HOT SPOT: Rye
Mermaid Street, Rye
Lowdown: Small, well preserved, medieval East Sussex town nestled between green rolling hills and the English Channel (2 miles away). The main town boasts beautiful Georgian properties and many buildings dating as far back as the 12th Century – including the Mermaid Inn, linked by cobbled streets and oozing character at every turn.
Transport: Rye to London takes about an hour. Commuters change at Ashford and then pick up the high speed rail link to St Pancras International. Road-wise, the A259 links Rye and Ashford in 30m and then it’s another 30mins on to Canterbury. Or you’ve got easy access to west Kent up the A21.
Schools: Vinehall, an independent, co-ed day and boarding school for 2-13 year olds is in Robertsbridge and Claremont Preparatory School is also close by at St.Leonards-on-sea and the Claremont Senior School in Bodiam, with its excellent Ofsted report. Rye College is a co-ed secondary school.
Surrounds: Shopping includes a bustling high street with a great range of independent shops down the cute and narrow lanes selling home wares, furnishings, fashion and gifts. Rye has a thriving art scene with a Kino independent cinema, several art galleries and there are antique and up-cycled shops dotted around. Camber is a bus ride away with a huge stretch of sandy beach, backed by dunes.
Prices: Properties are relatively expensive in Rye, as a result of the age and type of properties available, the picturesque town itself, facilities and location. Average house prices (paid) over the last 12 months – £387K. Camber would be less expensive in comparison due to more modern properties and far fewer amenities.
6. HOT SPOT: Deal
Lowdown: Located on the south Kent coast between Ramsgate and Dover, Deal is a worthy contender for being one of the coolest beach towns in the county. Voted one of best places to live by The Sunday Times in 2018, it boasts beach, fine food and shopping. Think colourful buildings, seafront promenade, lots of indie shops, antique stores and handsome Georgian properties in the sought after conservation area.
Transport: Fast trains from Deal can take you into London, St Pancras International, on the high speed rail in less that an hour and a half, slower trains can take more like 2 hours.
Schools: Schools include St. Faith’s (a good independent school in Ash which is at the more affordable end for prep schools) only 15 mins away or Northbourne Park School in Deal itself. Sir Roger Manwood’s School is just up the road in Sandwich. This co-ed grammar is both a day school and one of 35 state boarding schools in England. There are also excellent Boys and Girls individual grammar schools in Dover.
Surrounds: In true Kent-coast, hipster-style Deal has a lively art scene with galleries and exhibitions, modern restaurants and café culture. You’ve got Deal Castle and a particularly lovely trail is from Deal to Walmer, six miles of a gentle coastal walk suitable for all ages and abilities, taking in beaches and castles along the way.
Prices: Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £298K
7. HOT SPOT: Brenchley
Lowdown: Situated 6 miles east of Tunbridge Wells and with easy road access to the A21 (and from there the M25), Brenchley is a classically pretty Kentish village with a good community feel. Surrounded by farmland and with apple orchards a-plenty this is popular walking territory.
Transport: Take the ten minute drive into Paddock Wood station and you can commute into London Charing Cross or Canon Street, by direct train in 55 mins.
Schools: Brenchley has its own village primary school and pre-school and an abundance of good independent and grammar schools in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks. The Schools at Somerhill, umbrella of prep schools is also close by as is Kent College for Girls in Pembury.
Surrounds: The village itself has a GP surgery, dentist, Post Office and a small local butchers. There’s a convenient Waitrose a few miles away in Paddock Wood. Foodies will love The Poet pub and restaurant just up the road, walkers will want to stop and quench their thirst in The Hopbine a small and perfectly formed local pub before walking on to The Halfway House for another. Then there’s The Little Bull a cute, recently modernised café, right in the heart of the village.
Prices: Average house price (paid) over the last 12 months – £420K