Hi, first time buyer, budget is 190k - some may remember me from a previous thread about Welling in Kent, but I'm now looking at locations on the Crossrail route east, namely Essex.
I've discovered that Romford has good links, including one train that takes just 17 mins to Liverpool Street station (close to my work) and it's on the Crossrail route.
Previously I was looking at north Kent, but a friend who lives there told me the transport links were not great in terms of getting home late at night - as I work nights in central London and often leave work after midnight.
Romford looks to be the best connected on the Crossrail route (apart from Shenfield, but there appears to be little property available there within my budget).
I was born and raised in Romford, lived there for most of my life before moving to be closer to my mum on the south coast. For transport links and shopping I'd say it is very good. But I rarely went out in the town centre at night as it can get a bit hairy. Mainly South Street (the road that the train station is on) because it's chock full of bars, pubs and takeaways so it is very busy at chucking out time.
Queen's Hospital is usually in the news for all of the wrong reasons, although I had a relatively good experience when I had to go there to have my son when he came early.
I moved to Brentwood for a year before moving where I am now, and would say it is much nicer - however, you do pay for it through higher house prices and a longer commute.
Just ask if you'd like to know anything more specific and I'll do my best to answer!