The lowdown: Reading
Already a major commuter town, Crossrail is set to bring journey times from Reading to Bond Street down to 55 minutes when it arrives in 2019. Forty miles west of central London, families are attracted to the area's schools and property prices are likely to rocket by the end of the decade.
Images: Daniel Lynch (unless stated otherwise)
Average house prices in Reading
One-bedroom flat: £172,000
Two-bedroom flat: £230,000
Two-bedroom house: £292,000
Three-bedroom house: £367,000
Four-bedroom house: £646,000
Average rental prices in Reading
One-bedroom flat: £834 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £1,164 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,077 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,175 a month
Four-bedroom house: £1,483 a month
Reading has leading private schools, two top-performing state grammar schools and comprehensive schools that are judged to be "good" by Ofsted. However, the town’s state primary schools, although mostly judged to be “good” or better by Ofsted, have their weak points with a number in “special measures”. See our full list here.
The Oracle, Reading's main shopping centre, has a good selection of high street brands and several chain restaurants. Harris Shopping Arcade has good independent shops. For craft beer and cheese go to The Grumpy Goat while Shave & Coster is a traditional tobacconist, for a made-to-measure suit, try Simon Dowling in The Forbury.
There is a fast and frequent train service to Paddington that takes about 30 minutes from Reading station and about 40 minutes from Reading West. An annual season ticket costs £4,188. Reading council runs a bike hire scheme called ReadyBike.
London Street Brasserie is an award-winning restaurant while Cerise in The Forbury Hotel serves modern British food. There is a growing independent coffee scene and Reading Market, open Wednesday through Saturday, takes place on Hosier Street. Street food stalls are set up every Friday in Market Place. See our full list here.
Leisure and the arts
Music lovers should be well aware of the Reading Festival and this year’s event takes place from August 28-30 at Little John’s Farm. The Hexagon on Queens Walk is a multi-purpose arts venue that puts on concerts, comedy and children’s shows. South Street Arts Centre is a fringe theatre and music venue. See our full list here.
Forbury Gardens has the famous Maiwand Lion, a sculpture and war memorial. It is overlooked by a public square with a branch of Italian restaurant Carluccio’s and The Forbury Hotel in former council offices. Palmer Park on Wokingham Road and Prospect Park on Liebenrood Road are Reading’s two largest parks. See our full list here.
£400,000: this two-bedroom detached cottage in Tilehurst comes with a detached garage and a large rear garden.
£410,000: a three-bedroom barn conversion in Shinfield, this home has split-level accomodation with a vaulted ceiling and off-road parking.
£525,000: this four-bedroom family home is located in Bexley Court, a sought-after address to the west of Reading. Close to Prospect Park and Reading West Station, this house offers generous driveway parking as well as a double garage.
£1,750,000: set in five acres of gardens and paddocks, this five-bedroom detached home is on the edge of the village of Emmer Green. The house offers far-reaching countryside views as well as a high-spec vaulted kitchen/breakfast room.