The lowdown: Waltham Abbey
The quiet Essex market town of Waltham Abbey, just 16 miles from central London and with a fascinating history, offers period country houses, town-centre cottages and Victorian properties, plus more modern bungalows, semis and terrace homes aplenty.
Average property prices in Waltham Abbey
One-bedroom flat: £171,000
Two-bedroom flat: £231,000
Two-bedroom house: £282,000
Three-bedroom house: £347,000
Four-bedroom house: £607,000
Average rental prices in Waltham Abbey
One-bedroom flat: £796 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £987 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,165 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,324 a month
Four-bedroom house: £2,000 a month
Pretty, pedestrianised Sun Street has a small supermarket and a butcher. There's a twice-weekly market in Market Square, and in Church Street you'll find White Witch, owned by Deborah Harding, pictured, a shop for "every witch, wiccan, pagan, druid and occultist”. There's a large local Tesco, a Lidl and a branch of TK Maxx.
Leisure and the arts
Lee Valley White Water Centre, pictured, attracts canoe slalom fans, Epping Forest District Museum in Sun Street is reopening in spring after a £2 million facelift, the town hall hosts film screenings and local golf clubs include West Essex in Bury Road, Chingford.
Trains from Waltham Cross take about half an hour to Liverpool St. Pick up the Central line at Loughton, five miles away. Waltham Cross is in Zone 7 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £2,488; Loughton is in Zone 6 - annual travelcard £2,288. Or wind along the River Lee Navigation, pictured.
Nursery tots are catered for at Forestville Montessori School, pictured. Rated "good" by Ofsted are state primary schools Waltham Holy Cross, Leverton Infants and Hillhouse CofE, and for seniors, Lea Valley High in Enfield and St Mary’s in Waltham Cross. The all-through Ark John Keats Academy in Enfield is "outstanding".
David Beckham and his mum Sandra, inset, like Tony's famed local pie and mash shop. Sun Street has restaurants, cafes and Saporéarte Italian restaurant, while the town centre also has many popular pubs to choose from.
Waltham Abbey is on the edge of open countryside and has the rivers, streams and canals of the Lee Valley Regional Park to the west and Epping Forest to the east. In Waltham Abbey itself, there are Abbey Gardens and Cornmill Meadows.