This town in Kent thinks it’s a country village. Found between Bromley and Sidcup, Chislehurst has a duck pond, golf course and a cricket club. By train it’s just 28 minutes to Charing Cross and 29 minutes to Cannon Street.
Considering the good pubs on offer — especially The Rambler’s Rest, which has a large grassy lawn in front — the fact that you can easily get to Gatwick airport and the M25 and be in Cannon Street by the time you’ve finished your coffee, it’s surprisingly affordable.
The Chislehurst branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward is selling a cosy two-bedroom cottage, which is in need of modernisation, in Mill Place with patio garden for £269,950.
There are good state schools, too, including Edgebury primary, rated outstanding by Ofsted, and Bullers Wood secondary, which is rated good with some outstanding features.
Banbury, in Oxfordshire, borders the Cotswolds but is very far from its neighbour in terms of house prices, with three-bedroom cottages starting at £325,000 and larger four- or five-bedroom homes going for £600,000-plus, according to Celia Enderby, negotiator at Strutt & Parker’s Banbury office.
“People are amazed by the amount of house they get for their money, considering the eye-watering prices 20 minutes down the road in the Cotswolds,” she says. And Banbury has recently become even more commutable, with 15 minutes shaved off the time it takes by train to London Marylebone.
Maria Carroll, who is 39 and works as a commercial manager, moved to Kings Sutton, a village just outside Banbury, six years ago from St Margarets, near Richmond, with her husband David, 41, a business development manager. The couple, who have a two-year-old son, Charlie, are selling their pretty stone two-bedroom cottage for £325,000 through the Banbury office of Strutt & Parker (01295 273592).
“We initially tried to find a family house in London but couldn’t find the size we wanted, so we bought in a village near Banbury instead,” says Maria. “We made good friends quickly —there are always drinks parties in the village — and we’ve loved living in this gorgeous chocolate-box home. Getting to London, where my husband works, is easy. It’s 50 minutes from Banbury station, or you can go from the village station, which takes 20 minutes longer.”
While prices in the neighbouring boroughs of Oxshott, Esher, Cobham and Weybridge have gone stratospheric, Kingswood in Surrey, with its modest high street and wide, tree-heavy roads and open spaces, is where some young families are heading for (relative) affordability.
The reason it’s cheaper to buy there is because the train journey to London takes 15 minutes longer — but that 15 minutes buys you an awful lot more property for your money.
Kennedys is selling a two-bedroom listed cottage within the Surrey Downs golf club for £350,000. The property comes with a log fire in the lounge and a decent-size garden. Two-bedroom flats in Kingswood start just under the £300,000 mark, says senior partner Peter Kennedy, and three-bedroom semis at £395,000.
People buying there include London deserters from Putney, Fulham and Wimbledon, or people moving within Surrey. “People think Kingswood is full of expensive top-end houses, but the reality is that you can find some good-value family homes in parts of Kingswood,” he says.