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Bringing up baby: the 10 best places to raise a family

Posted: Aug 02, 2018


With pretty riverside homes, a low crime rate and excellent schools, Walton-on-Thames in Surrey has been judged the best place to live in London and the home counties if you want to raise a family.

Research published today has combined factors such as commuting times, educational standards, GP ratings, crime rates including incidents of drug and alcohol abuse, quantity of green space and pollution levels to rank the top 10 “family zones” in the capital and the commuter belt.

The new formula also compares obesity levels, average salaries, job prospects and even road safety.

Tunbridge Wells in Kent is in second place, followed by St Albans in Hertfordshire, while Esher in Surrey and the Essex town of Brentwood stand fourth and fifth in the analysis of extensive research by London-based online estate agent, Yopa.

Driven out by high prices within the capital’s traditional family zones, a fifth of Londoners polled said they would be prepared to move up to 25 miles outside the capital to find the family idyll. “Inner London housing stock is increasingly being dismissed by young families in favour of more suburban or rural locations,” says David Jacobs, boss of Yopa.

“This has been reflected in official figures, with 2016 net outward migration from London being 80 per cent higher than five years earlier, primarily as a result of skyrocketing Inner London house prices over the same period.”

The remainder of the Family Zones Top 10 is made up of Guildford in Surrey, Chelmsford in Essex, Berkshire’s Maidenhead and Harrow and Richmond upon Thames in Greater London. Of all the home counties, Surrey appears most frequently — three times — in the list.

1 Walton-on-Thames, Surrey           £504,616
2 Tunbridge Wells, Kent           £457,477
3 St Albans, Hertfordshire           £622,409
4 Esher, Surrey           £768,217
5 Brentwood, Essex           £514,927
6 Guildford, Surrey           £553,530
7 Richmond upon Thames, Greater London           £832,674
8 Chelmsford, Essex           £382,803
9 Maidenhead, Berkshire           £622,736
10 Harrow, Greater London           £550,628


Table: average prices provided by Savills



The pretty towpath in Walton is dominated by swans, dog walkers and family-friendly pubs such as The Anglers. On the opposite side of the Thames sits an eclectic mix of glass-backed houses with gardens that run down to the river.

This old part of Walton has a rural feel but is less than 20 miles from London. Meanwhile, the town centre has undergone a £150 million regeneration to improve the retail scene. The Heart complex has 60 mainstream and independent shops, cafés and restaurants with 400 flats on top, including 100 affordable homes. There’s an art house cinema and a new M&S Foodhall.

Older kids can get involved in an active watersports scene including rowing and skiffing, and there’s a Wizzkids Play Café for toddlers. The three-form entry Ashley CofE Primary School has an “outstanding” Ofsted rating.

“There are many styles of homes, from period to new, gated to affordable,” says Yopa’s Chris Labram. “One-bedroom flats start at £295,000 while a modern townhouse in a gated development costs around £635,000. There is a real community feel in this area and buyer interest is booming.”

The fastest train takes 25 minutes to Waterloo.



This Kentish town which sits on the northern edge of the High Weald has the highest-rated GP practices in the home counties and also boasts the lowest crime rates in the top 10.

Tunbridge Wells has long been a popular commuter choice but the historic town is still changing, with plans to build a new theatre and hopes of redeveloping the old cinema site into a new one with shops, too.

The Pantiles, a gorgeous Georgian colonnaded walkway, has independent shops, galleries and eateries. If overlooking the Weald is not enough green space for your family, there’s Tunbridge Wells Common and beautiful Calverley Grounds park within the town.

Studio flats start at about £125,000, with one-bedroom flats at £175,000 and houses starting from £250,000 to £300,000. Prices rise the closer you get to good schools — and Tunbridge Wells has both grammar schools and “outstanding” state schools.

In most sought-after Frant Road, Broadwater Down, Forest Road and Warwick Park, a five-bedroom detached house will fall between £1.15 million and £1.75 million, advises James Cairns of Hamptons.

£1,695,000: for the price of a central London flat you can live in this five-bedroom Tunbridge Wells villa dating from 1871. It comes with original features, a spiral staircase, a wine cellar and a lovely garden 

The quickest train takes less than an hour to Cannon Street or Charing Cross.



Saz and David Sanders, with their three children Ella, George and William, have relocated from Brook Green in West Kensington to Fitzroy Gate on the border of Richmond and Old Isleworth in search of more space.

More space was the driver: Saz Sanders with daughter Ella and sons William and George. The family moved out from West Kensington to Old Isleworth to a townhouse set in gardens

The gated complex has townhouses with their own gardens as well as three acres of communal landscaped grounds.

It sits on the banks of the Thames, on a river path that runs past Richmond on the other side round to Twickenham — ideal for scooter and bike races.

From £1.4 million: townhouses at Fitzroy Gate by St James

The development, built on the site of a private estate dating back to 1832, comprises four-, five- and six-bedroom townhouses starting from £1.4 million.


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