what are the best yet affordable London suburbs?

(66 Posts)
allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 16:52:30

My Mum needs to move from abroad so we are looking for somewhere quite safe for her. Either suburbs or the counties within an hour travel time on trains, no more than an hour! Prefer trains to long noisy/rattling tube journeys but would consider the tube.

By 'best' I really mean not too sleepy and lifeless in the weekdays, low crime rate, easy commute to Paddington or Victoria, at a push Waterloo, also some choice of shops and cafes right there without having to travel by transport to the nearest shop. She doesn't drive. Also not too old an area even though she is in her 60s.

Looking for a 2-bed plus study or large loft storage, or even a 3-bed for about 280K max! she would have guests staying, maybe even a lodger in one room. Ideally period property as good ceiling height/light space is a must,
the garden can be minimal or none, but with a park nearby somewhere, and she would prefer a large conversion flat or top floor maisonette (no basements) to a house, for less maintenance and security issues. Ah and also somewhere in good-ish condition for that price.

Does such a place exist?

allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 16:55:08

forgot to say, that 280 max has to include stamp duty!

suburbandream Wed 14-Nov-12 17:01:25

Bromley is good, lots of shops but countryside/large parks and woods nearby. 20-30 minutes into London (Victoria, London Bridge, Cannon St, take your pick!). Depending on which part of the borough its zone 5-6. Some areas very quiet, others busier - Rightmove is a good place to look.

allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 17:17:00

thanks suburb, do you know where in Bromley, as it's large? I thought it was more expensive if it's nearer the shops, more like 325 for a good flat, but as she doesn't drive she wouldn't want to be further out, as I remember from my brief visit that the buses are not frequent if you go out of the centre of Bromley. I don't know the whole area though.

Iggly Wed 14-Nov-12 17:19:27

Clock house in Beckenham (that's Bromley borough)
Short lands

Iggly Wed 14-Nov-12 17:24:46

Or you could try Croydon. South Croydon has good connections. Not sure about parks though.

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 14-Nov-12 17:26:30

3 bed first floor maisonette

2 bed first floor

two bed period cottage Spoilt for choice in Bromley.

I like Shortlands, it is lovely.

Iggly Wed 14-Nov-12 17:29:40

Yes shortlands is nice. We have been looking there (currently in Beckenham)

allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 23:00:27

ooh, impressed by the size of he maisonette! looks pretty too.

So Shortlands is the same as Sundridge Park? What do I actually put into search engine - just 'shortlands' or postcodes? do trains from SP go to Victoria?

Beckenham I've heard good things of but isn't it expensive?

NotQuin and Iggy, can you tell me more what's nice about Shortlands, any good parks? what are the shops? is crime low? Is it different from Central Bromley which is all chain shopping? thanks so much!

allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 23:04:13

just noticed that Sundridge Park borders with Mottingham, but that's a very rough area, even as mentioned on MN, does it not spill into Shortlands? I can't actually see the name on the map, or is Shortlands a station?

NotQuintAtAllOhNo Wed 14-Nov-12 23:24:34

Shortlands has a station with trains to Victoria, some are fast trains with few stops. A little high street with some nice shops. Park with playground, nice walk along the canal. Bus into central Bromley, but withing walking distance along the canal, through the park. Perfect day is walk in, do shopping, bus home. Easy distance by bus to Beckenham, for more shops, coffee shops and restaurants, and cinema.

nancy75 Wed 14-Nov-12 23:29:35

Op none of the right move links are in short lands, they are the other side of bromley, the first one is heading towards downham. Du drudge park is not the same place as shortlands

allchangeplease Wed 14-Nov-12 23:57:09

thank you everyone! NotQuin that sounds nice. Is it safe in hte evenings more or less?
will search under shortlands, any area of Bromley generally to avoid?

Devora Thu 15-Nov-12 00:28:31

Teddington is lovely - river, shops, cafes, Bushy Park, low crime. Only minuses is that it is teeming with small children (which your mother may not love) and it is pricey. Still, there is property within her price range:




Or, a bit further afield:




Ooh, look at how much you get for your money in Shepperton:


And this one is right by Norbiton station, 40 minutes into Waterloo, in a nice part of Kingston:


suburbandream Thu 15-Nov-12 12:03:07

Computer playing up today and doesn't seem to want me to do links, but there are a couple of nice flats under £280K in central Bromley, near Bromley north. Look on Rightmove.
Chislehurst is also lovely, very green and countrysidey but flats and houses v.much in demand. I saw a 2-bed flat on for £250k
Buses in and around the Bromley/Orpington/Chislehurst area are excellent, v.regular

DoNotDisturb Thu 15-Nov-12 12:08:44

Sevenoaks is lovely. 30 min trains to Waterloo and Victoria. 280 would get a two bed flat or terraced house if it was at least 15 mins walk from the station. It's very safe and a vibrant town.

madammoose Thu 15-Nov-12 12:15:54

Brentford & Isleworth in the London Borough of Hounslow are pleasant and within your price range.

Ups include 35 mins into Waterloo, good transport links, lots of green (Osterley Park, Syon Park, Kew Gardens), river, canal, places to eat out, Watermans Art Centre plus easy to travel to Richmond for theatre & shopping.

Downs include being under Heathrow flight path and LB of Hounslow not having the social cache of say neighbouring Richmond or Ealing...frankly each area has it's nice bits and grotty bits.

Solo Thu 15-Nov-12 12:31:20

You could get a Victorian house in or around Bexleyheath for that money and many of them have postage stamp sized gardens. Good links from Bexleyheath and Barnehurst. Lots of buses too to get to other local towns including Bluewater.
Victorian terraced
The cheaper end of the market and there are more going into Bexleyheath, but I have no more time to look.

PigletJohn Thu 15-Nov-12 12:35:56

If she doesn't drive, it needs to be close to shops, library, doctor, church perhaps, tubes and buses. For some reason there don't seem to be as many tubes South of the river but it is likely to be more convenient than mainline trains.

Re Bromley, personally I would avoid Mottingham, Grove Park and Downham.

I used to live in Bromley North/Sundridge Park, in a house similar to this 2 beds with loft (area sometimes called 'Bromley Old Town'). There may be some maisonettes round there. Nice community, 10 mins walk to Bromley High Street but quiet enough. Also handy for trains (either Bromley North which is closest, or Bromley South at end of high st).

I know Bromley also has a U3a and Red Hats group which may be useful for your mum to meet people?

skandi1 Thu 15-Nov-12 17:23:24

Beckenham or west wickham. Parts of Bromley. Should tick all the boxes inc budget. Beckenham junction is 20min on train to Victoria.

allchangeplease Thu 15-Nov-12 18:11:41

wow, so many replies! thank you!

Devora, thanks for all the links! impressed with Shepperton's spacious flat! what's it like though, and how long to london? it's almost Weybridge! My Mum doesn't like open plan kitchens (not do I btw) so that would rule out some closer areas where it's 2 bed on paper but then the kitchen as a room is missing. Still, a flat in Teddington is quite good - I'm quite surprised, as thought Teddington was much more expensive - I do know the surrounds, lots of greenery. Maybe it depends on the fly paths...

I had a look on rightmove, yes definitely some choice in Bromley and Beckenham - especially I like the look of period conversions though not that many of those. So I take it, Bromley is best in the south and the west, is Clock House good? what is the best park in Bromley (and safe)?

Dinnerdinner, isn't Mottingham right next to N Bromley though? what's U3a btw? thanks for info on community.

skandi do you think Beckenham better than Bromley, and why?

Piglet, property on the tube tends to be moreexpensive unless it's right at the end of the line which is truly soul-destroying to travel on, cold rattly tube - so much better and quicker on modern trains. She can walk (she's quite fit) and happy to use buses though, so thanks suburb for info on good buses.

Solo, is B-heath in Kent also? any particular pluses about it compared to areas mentioned? is it further and cheaper?

DoNotDisturb, Sevenoaks is expensive though - though maybe prices gone down this year?

madam sadly these are out as Mum can't stand being under flight path, they can sound something shocking in Hounslow!

No one yet mentioned anywhere going into Paddington, anything good there too, maybe going into Berks, or is it too expensive there (she wouldn't live in a big modern block like they have in this price range in Newbury)? Just want to have a few diff areas to compare, diffrent character maybe.

Looks like Bromley is most likely, it's a question where in Bromley is best.

allchangeplease Thu 15-Nov-12 18:15:57

just had a very quick look at Bexleyheath - oh my, big places, 3/4 bed houses even! can anyone tell me more about the area - there must be a catch? or is it just on a slow train, or Gatwick flight path?

fluffygal Thu 15-Nov-12 18:30:12

I would think Bromley is better then Bexleyheath, the high street has gone downhill recently. The buses were (not sure if they still are) having police escorts at school run time due to problems with kids on them. There are nice houses there though, Bexley or Bexley Village are nicer areas. Bromley would be quicker into London though.

My parents live in Barnehurst right next to the station for links to the airport and I grew up in Bexleyheath, Sidcup and then Bexley Village so know the area well.

fluffygal Thu 15-Nov-12 18:32:12

Bexleyheath is only on a slow train to my knowledge and no flight path.

allchangeplease Thu 15-Nov-12 19:01:27

yes, had a look at the high st. on Google street, very run down... will stick to looking in Bromley for now, and Teddington - about to have a look.

mamaonion Thu 15-Nov-12 19:08:18

I live near to Bromley and Beckenham, and I prefer Beckenham. It had a more villagey feel and more character. Has useful shops and supermarkets. I find Bromley utterly soulless with no independent shops just clone high street shops, but it is a useful town centre for lots of things. We live a bit further in in Sydenham and are discussing a move to Beckenham!

mamaonion Thu 15-Nov-12 19:10:12

Although Croydon might have nice bits that I haven't discovered I wouldn't fancy living there. Heard Shirley is quite nice though!

bamboostalks Thu 15-Nov-12 19:14:09

What about Palmers Green in north London. Quick trains into town, tube via a bus. Affordable housing and nice area.

Fairylea Thu 15-Nov-12 19:16:28

No to croydon unless you are very rich and can afford good security!!

I spent 28 years growing up in norbury / Thornton heath and it changed beyond recognition. In the last four years before I moved to Norfolk I was mugged twice, flashed twice in broad daylight and had managed to collect two stalkers. My husband and his brother were also mugged twice, his brother after getting off a reasonably early bus and set on by 4 guys and attacked brutally.

I moved after that.

I would not live anywhere near norbury, thornton heath, croydon or streatham however anyone sells it to you. And we lived in a big ish house in a better part of norbury.

Iggly Thu 15-Nov-12 20:08:49

I grew up in Croydon. Thornton Heath and those places are rough. Other places are lovely!

Devora Thu 15-Nov-12 21:35:29

Teddington is lovely lovely lovely. And though it is generally expensive, there are bargains to be had if you're looking at flats and especially if you don't insist on Victorian. A friend of mine just bought a great 3 bed flat in a (genuinely) lovely 60s development at the heart of Strawberry Hill. It's so spacious and airy, and out of every window there's views of the lovely grounds, loads of flowers. The storage is fantastic (including big cupboards just outside the front door) and it's all very thoughtfully designed. It cost £230k. I would live there like a shot.

Fairylea, I grew up in that area. It's ALWAYS been rough. Really rough. You couldn't pay me enough to live in Thornton Heath or Croydon.

Solo Thu 15-Nov-12 23:36:25

Bexleyheath high street is not run down at all; it has had quite a lot of shop closures over the last couple of years, but things seem to be improving a lot recently and they are currently doing/finishing off some improvements on the road and pavement area and don't forget, Google street is probably from a couple of years ago, not current. As for the escorts on buses etc, well, they have a lot of school children and keep order by having mainly Community Police in the area at the school out times and sometimes on the buses themselves. I see this as a positive actually as an ex bus driver...IME, the childre in Sidcup were far worse than the Bexleyheath lot.
There is a lot of good things about Bexleyheath and there are both slow and fast trains into London.

doinmummy Thu 15-Nov-12 23:42:34

I grew up in Welling and went to school in Bexleyheath. my family all still live there. Its a nice place. No flight path, trains only take half hour to London Bridge.

Solo Fri 16-Nov-12 00:50:09

See!! grin

Mamf74 Fri 16-Nov-12 10:03:48

I live near Bexleyheath and certainly think it's worth a look. The town centre is very chain-y but that's no bad thing in a way; you can get everything you need without resorting to the big supermarket barns each time.

Buses are frequent and most places have access to bus routes without a big trek. Bexley Borough is one of the greenest in London and we have some of the best crime figures too.

Also, Bexley has a reasonably aging population which means that there are plenty of things aimed at retired people - it's certainly got things like evening classes specifically aimed at over 60s so could be a useful way to meet people.

skandi1 Fri 16-Nov-12 11:52:23

The best park around is Kelsey Park in Beckenham. It has a massive lake which is a bird nature reserve. It's fab for all ages. Your mum could get a lovely flat overlooking Kelsey Park (look at Wickham Road for those).

Clock house is ok but the other side of Beckenham is nicer.

I used to live near Bexleyheath too and it's alright! Like most places there's probably a few less than ideal parts, but that is the same of everywhere in London. There's also a lot of nice parts too. Danson Park nearby is lovely, there's great links to the A2 and out of London, the shops are improving - even if there is a slightly rough end of the shopping centre, that would apply anywhere in London really short of Chelsea or something.

The train station isn't in the centre of town but that's the only "catch", and who lives in the centre of town anyway? It's all shops there!!

It's not uber posh, but it's perfectly fine for London!

bamboostalks Fri 16-Nov-12 17:40:37

Avoid Bexleyheath, very BNP ish and culturally barren imo. My black friend lived there and had substantial racism shown to her in shops, restaurants and by services. Horrid place.

Solo Sat 17-Nov-12 01:21:14

Well I've never encountered racism here! my Dd's school is quite ethnically populated and my African and West Indian friends have never mentioned anything to me that would indicate that they'd been racially abused, attacked or harassed in any way. My Dd's father is black and he had no problems save the black shop assistant in the supermarket that asked if Dd was his (she's very white/blond/blue eyed)! that was the only offensive thing I've heard of!
Yes the BNP are around, but I think you might find them all over Britain.

allchangeplease Sat 17-Nov-12 11:55:43

from what posters said so far, I like the sound of Beckenham and Teddington most (though I still think Tedd is too expensive as Mum is not a fan of modern flats with open plan or low ceilings, and period flats too expensive). I've been to Bromley South briefly and agree with poster above htat it is a bit soulless, but it does have good points, especially quick commute to victoria - again a question of finding the right place not to far from station.

I must go and look at Beckenham properly - where is the villagey bit, mamaonion? and which station as there are a couple in B.

Bexleyheath sounds 'so so' so it's lower on the list but an option to consider if the house is right. Is High st the same as Broadway? as that's the one looking shoddy on Google, but it's true that google maps can be couple of years old!

Oh I know about Thronton Heath - been there once and no desire to come back grin - it's always been rough!

Palmers Green - any better and worse areas? is there a train link and to where (as the tube woiuld take ages, she tends to go to Sw side of the centre of Lon for museums etc). It was on Location location i think, so possibly that means prices are on the rise (they recommended it as up and coming, kind of).

allchangeplease Sat 17-Nov-12 11:57:28

skandi thank you for info on the park, are the prices still in that range (250-275)? I m going to visit as i mentioned, maybe you also know where the villagey bit mentioned by mama is?

skandi1 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:43:13


High st is quite villagey. There is an independent butchers called village sausages, independent coffee shops best one is Fee and Brown plus big chain like costa and cafe Nero. Plus a number of nice restaurants. There is also an independent fishmongers. And it's passes the Waitrose test. And there is an M&S food.
There are these at less than £250k not overlooking the park but 5 min walk away and 2 mins walk to high st:





These are over £250k:

This one overlooks the park:

And a semi detached house;

There are lots of options. You should take your mum down here and look around.

If you walk to the other end of Kelsey Park (away from the High st) and exit you will find a small parade of indi shops at the bottom of Wickham Road. It has a lovely bakery a cafe and a proper old fashioned grocers/butchers selling organic produce.

skandi1 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:55:28

Oh and the stations are
Beckenham Junction which is by Waitrose at the top of the High St. That takes you to Victoria in circa 20min. This line goes via Herne Hill if that helps you.
Clock House which is a 10min walk from the centre of Beckenham High St. That's for London Bridge in circa 30min. It's via Lewisham so you can connect with DLR for Greenwich and east London.
And Beckenham Junction has the tram to Croydon and Wimbledon.

Autumnmumm Sat 17-Nov-12 21:34:42

Op London borough of Croydon is a big place. Agree the Thornton h end not so salubrious but south of the borough is worth looking at.

Shirley and west sick ham. Warlingham. Sanderstead, Hamsey green, whyteleafe coulsdon and kenley . All lovely places with good transport into town on fast trains, near motorways and lovely parks and woods.

Autumnmumm Sat 17-Nov-12 21:35:00

West wickham

MrsMelon Sat 17-Nov-12 21:38:34

Ashford, Surrey. 25 mins to Waterloo.

redandwhitesprinkles Sat 17-Nov-12 21:50:00

Ealing 9 mins on train to paddington. Lots going on in terms of Ealing 'groups' to get out and about. Lots of shops, restaurants and cages and parks galore.

redandwhitesprinkles Sat 17-Nov-12 21:50:34

Cafes not cages!

Solo Sun 18-Nov-12 00:33:43

Bexleyheath Broadway is what I think is the pedestrianised part and then you have the remainder of the high street that is not.
I do think for your money, you could do far far worse.

DanielRodson Mon 26-Nov-12 18:16:05

Yes Bexleyheath is a nice enough area. Strictly speaking it is not in Kent and hasn't been since 1965, but a lot of the older locals like to think that it is because its postcode is not SE, although it was once upon a time in the 1800's before they changed it to DA (talk about confusing)!

You can get from Reading to Paddington in less than 30 minutes if you are lucky and less than an hour on the slow trains. So you really don't need to be that close to London.

cabbageandbeans Mon 26-Nov-12 19:30:45

West Wickham, Beckenham smaller than bromley but with good transport. Sanderstead? Coulsdon? Look for anywhere with a waitrose and you on the money.

allchangeplease Mon 26-Nov-12 21:46:21

grin @ cabbage! can you expand a bit on places you mention esp trains/safety/parks? we'd prefer not a tiny place and i assume these two are (though sorry if wrong!)
BigBird, yes I'm familiar with Reading being close andlots of trains but from what I've read here it is NOT nice, and if it is where are those areas - are they anywhere near the train, as if not it defeats the purpose (she wouldn't be driving). Near the station it looks all big scary blocks etc - but maybe there is a good bus link to a better area? I always pass Reading and think ;I wish it was nice, so convenient for London!' - and Paddington is great, you can walk to places through the park, plus many tube lines.
Still haven' had a chance to gfo and look at Beckenham, but it's a plan! Bexleyheath well maybe too - how long is a train to Victoria (Londpn Bridge is nop good).

allchangeplease Mon 26-Nov-12 21:47:17

thank you again for all contributors! really grateful for taking your time. waiting for weather to improve to go and see these places.

allchangeplease Mon 26-Nov-12 21:49:44

'thank you again TO all ..' sorry for all the typos!

JingleBel Tue 27-Nov-12 18:20:41

Coulsdon is lovely. Fast trains to London, 18min to clapham junction at rush hour. Near m25, on the edge of the downs. Great park recently refurbished. Waitrose, cafe Nero, boots, outstanding primary schools and a new academy which is getting good results.

I live in a large 3 bed house in Bexleyheath... We love it, avoid the town centre at school closing time though!

cabbageandbeans Tue 27-Nov-12 22:37:09

Perhaps sanderstead yes smaller than you are looking for, but I think coulsdon is a nice size. Coulsdon has everything you want shops wise as jingle says but it's not a shopping centre. Whereas Bromley has a huge shopping centre and I personally think it might be too big. Couldsdon is on a par with beckenham or west wickham IMO, except one word of warning, couldson is exceptionally hilly which is why I don't live there! Good luck!

Just like anywhere there are good parts and bad. Caversham is considered a naive area for instance. There are buses from Caversham to the train station.

JingleBel Wed 28-Nov-12 20:15:59

Coulsdon has 2 parts.
Coulsdon Town which is in catchment for Woodcote, an outstanding co ed.
Old Coulsdon, which, as cabbageandbeans mentions is high above sea level, and more villagey.

Gingersnap88 Thu 29-Nov-12 23:34:11

I prefer Teddington, it's really lovely around there (I grew up in Kingston and would love to move back).

Used to live in Beckenham, which is nice but still a bit iffy in places as its so close to Penge..

Devora Fri 30-Nov-12 00:05:16

I agree, Gingersnap. There are NO bad parts to Teddington [smug emoticon]

cabbageandbeans Sat 01-Dec-12 00:04:54

Now I think about it, yes Teddington IS lovely. I used to work in Twickenham which is nice but for the huge stadium and rugby fans!

Richmond is fab - great shops, river, pubs, green, theatre......prefer Richmond to Bromley but prices shock! Additionally, Kingston is great but has a bad rep for the night time action, as it is a lively university town and there are lots of bars/nightclubs but it is still a lovely area IMO. However, just walking distance you can be in Hampton wick which I believe is nice. All very pricey though.....

Devora Sat 01-Dec-12 08:15:11

It IS all very pricey, I agree. Richmond is the priciest, and where I'm going to live when I marry George Clooney. Teddington is cheaper, but getting increasingly pricey as it rapidly gentrifies and because ALL the schools are good. Hampton Wick also very nice, but I prefer Tedd because it has a proper centre and good shops, whereas HW is really part of the Kingston sprawl. Kingston has lovely and not-so-lovely bits, great shopping, but yes the centre is to be avoided on a Saturday night. (Whereas Teddington is very dull for young people and therefore always feel safe, despite the murder last week.)

Devora Sat 01-Dec-12 08:18:00

Actually, Teddington is the safest I have ever felt in London. It has an almost total absence of that sense of aggro, something about to kick off. No graffiti, no hoodies, everybody very polite.... it's like living in the Truman Show. Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your personal preferences.

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