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Guildford, Godalming, Dorking or Haslemere?

(41 Posts)
JooLoo Tue 13-Aug-13 20:56:14

Planning to leave Kingston, which we have loved for many reasons, for somewhere closer to the country and a bigger house and garden. Our criteria are;
Walking distance to mainline station to WAterloo (with a seat on train!);
Close to nice countryside;
A proper town with facilities we can walk to, some character and preferably a community feel;
Good state primary and secondary schools.
Theses four towns seem to meet the criteria in principle but have only ever been to Godalming and Dorking. Currently overseas so hoping to get some thoughts to narrow down our options before we visit UK. We have £600,000 to spend on 3/4 bed with good garden in a nice area.
Would love to hear experiences of theses places, thanks!

Dededum Tue 13-Aug-13 21:09:05

Guildford hits all you requirements:
- excellent primary & secondary schools
- beautiful countryside
- great facilities / characterful town / 2 theatres / university etc..
- commute in 35 minutes

Where is going to be a little tougher is the 600k requirement for walk to station (10 minutes?) / 4 bedrooms tricky/ large garden. Could be doable? You might have to compromise. My house would suit - 4 beds/huge garden/20 minute walk to station/ between country and town/ catchment for great schools. Neighbour just sold for £765k, ours would probably be in that region.

Godalming is lovely, again good schools etc..

JooLoo Tue 13-Aug-13 21:38:14

Thanks Dededum, there was me thinking we had a good budget! 20 to 25 min walk is fine with the shorter train ride. Am a bit confused by areas in Guildford though. Which are nice areas in the right catchments? Onslow village seems to come up a lot on Rightmove, what's that like and where else should I look?

Angelfootprints Tue 13-Aug-13 21:44:49

Oh any of them are lovely (though I don't know Haslemere).

They are all very close to each other anyway, so I suppose its going to come down to schools and the perfect house.

Guildford is the biggest town out of all of them though with more chain shops, designer boutiques and restaurants.

Angelfootprints Tue 13-Aug-13 21:48:03

By the way have you got Google earth? It is really handy for getting a feel now for each town.

Of course, it wont replace visiting in the flesh but while your aboard you could have a good look!

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Tue 13-Aug-13 21:52:21

Guildford much bigger than the others (in fact, it is a city, not a town). Haslemere is the nicest of the 4,and the nearest to nice countryside, but also, I suspect, the most expensive.

redcaryellowcar Tue 13-Aug-13 22:07:29

Haslemere very pleasant, lots of shops but more independents than chain high street, quite a good thing in many ways but the odd trip to bigger places e.g chichester or guildford when you want a bit more choice is necessary now and then. With 600k you would probably get 3/4 bed house near ish to station, but there isn't much on the market at that price. All local primaries are good, not so sure about secondaries as ds too small for me to begin worrying about that too. Worth considering frequency of trains, lots from Haslemere and sonera start there, so seats more likely than further up the line and fast trains from portsmouth stop at Haslemere and guildford but not godalming.
I really like godalming but we couldn't find property in budget (smaller than yours) near enough station, and from what I understand property there moves v fast once on the market, be aware that farncombe is from estate agents point of view considered to be godalming but parts of it are no where as nice!
Guildford was an initial option for us but we found to be near enough station we wouldn't get parking, you might do for 600k?

Angelfootprints Tue 13-Aug-13 22:10:11

I must say though if you want to be also in walking distance of countryside then Guildford wouldn't tick this box. You would have to drive about 15 minutes out towards the Surrey Hills.

AmethystMoon Tue 13-Aug-13 22:20:26

Sorry to be picky but guildford is not a city. It does have a cathedral which often leads people to think it is though. It's lovely, fab shops smile

beaglesaresweet Tue 13-Aug-13 23:49:56

the was a priceless shockingly snobbish thread a while back about surrey being the bees knees, and Haslemere portarayed as the jewel in the crown grin

beaglesaresweet Tue 13-Aug-13 23:50:27


Mendi Wed 14-Aug-13 06:38:15

Isn't the definition of a city that it has a cathedral?

Anyway. Guildford is nice, so are the other 3. In Guildford the best secondary is George Abbott for which you need to live in Merrow/Burpham (not near the station for walking - a 5-10 min drive depending on traffic). In Onslow Village (not actually a village, just the part of town near the university) you will get more for your money and it's closer to the station but the secondary is Guildford County, which you hear mixed things about, especially on MN.

In Godalming the best secondary is Rodborough though I hear Broadwater Down is coming up.

I think for £600k you can find what you want, though you won't have a lot of choice.

whyno Wed 14-Aug-13 06:58:39

Haslemere is the nicest (biased) and will get you most for your money (actually I don't know about Dorking but more than G or G). However, as pp says, there's not much on the market at the moment.

Also, definitely a small town, so depends what amenities are essential for you.

milkwasabadchoice Wed 14-Aug-13 07:12:44

Ooh ooh come to godalming! I am moving there next week and will be looking for friends :-)

Our thinking was: Guildford - too big for us but good to be close (a few mins on train from godalming) for shops and facilities

Dorking - cute but a bit tiny somehow.

Haslemere - we didn't visit - too far from DH's work and prob too long a train ride to w'loo for me.

Reigate - lovely - proper town, good schools, amazing park, beautiful setting, reasonable commute to London bridge. Perhaps not as madly expensive. My first choice.

And godalming - DH's first choice. Really pretty, lovely setting. Choc box high street, v near Guildford, good primaries, secondaries not sure about, seemed friendly (I hope I hope I hope). Commute to w'loo is 45 min - will have to see how that pans out. Ask me again about commute at end sept!

It's all crazy expensive though.

SpecialJK Wed 14-Aug-13 11:14:46

I've lived in Guildford for the last 14 years and just moved. It just doesn't feel as nice as it used to.

If you want a good primary/secondary school you might be able to get something in that price range. Areas I'd look at are Charlotteville and around 'the mount'. However, you'll be lucky to get a seat on the train between 7-8am in the morning! Watch Onslow village as there are now a lot of houses rented out to students, but the primary school is good, and County School is making good progress as a secondary.

Personally out of the 4 I'd go for Godalming. It's a bit smaller, and has much more of a community feel. More 'space' around it too and greener.

I have just moved to Farnham 2 weeks ago. have you considered that? It's roughly the same length of time on the train as Godalming, and less time that Haslemere. Great schools, especially on the south side. From having lived in Guildford, Farnham feels more tailored to family life, the pub 5 mins walk from our house has a huge kids play area, 5 mins to Alice Holt forest, loads of green spaces etc. The shopping isn't as good in terms of clothes shopping, but Guildford is only 15-20 min drive away from my house. Restaurants are equally as good IMO though. House prices steep, but a little bit more affordable than guildford.

taten Wed 14-Aug-13 12:33:43

milkwasabadchoice, how did you find the property market in godalming? We've been looking there and guildford for ages and things seem to go extremely quickly and there is very little on the market.
We need primary schools so which are the best ones in godalming?

DinkyB1983 Wed 14-Aug-13 12:37:02

Also consider Reigate.

We live between Reigate and Dorking in a lovely country village and bought our three bed detached house with a large garden for well within your budget last year. We do however have a ten minute drive (although I actually cycle) to Dorking station which may not suit you and adds on to the cost of the commute.

We can either get trains from Redhill or Dorking. Redhill is faster. Dorking is slower train (50 mins to Waterloo) but you get a seat as train starts at Dorking.

We don't have kids yet but understand Dorking and Reigate have good schools.

I personally love the area and really glad we moved out of London!

RachelHRD Wed 14-Aug-13 12:39:36

I lived in Haslemere for 13 years and it is lovely but it is a smallish town so you need to travel elsewhere for shops - although there are a few high street stores there now.
We moved to Guildford 3 years ago and love it - so much on your doorstep including countryside. We are I between Merrow and town and have Merrow Downs on our doorstep. Train is only 35 mins to Waterloo and you can get to the coast in an hour. Loads of sports facilities etc for the kids and great shopping.
Godalming us nice as I'd Dorking but I would rate them Guildford, Haslemere, Godalming, Dorking.

RachelHRD Wed 14-Aug-13 12:40:14

Sorry typing too quick!!

FlightofFancy Wed 14-Aug-13 13:51:46

Another vote for Godalming - though I'm biased because I live there already. Commute in to London is fine - train is quick and comfortable and you always get a seat. I loved communting as you get a quiet 45 mins at start/end of day with book and coffee! I get the train in to Guildford for work now, which only takes a few minutes.

Primary schools are mostly good. Taten, Moss Lane and Busbridge are the two most popular, St Edmunds if you're Catholic. There are lots of good village schools near as well - Milford, Witley, Shackleford, Puttenham. School entry is quite competitive though so you need to check distances quite carefully on the Surry website. It's also split infant/junior, so also look at distances to junior schools. The Aarons Hill area and Green Oaks/Loseley Fields schools are the ones that some people avoid.

It's a really friendly place to live - loads of people with young children so a big community around nurseries (high demand for places though), schools and the local mummy-cafe/baby groups/NCT etc. It's lovely if you like somewhere you'll always bump in to someone you know to have coffee with/at the park/supermarket.

JooLoo, your budget should get you something nice - depending on your happy distance for walking to station - I'd look at Busbridge. Some of the bottom end of Farncombe is lovely, the Godalming side of the railway line.

Nice houses do move really quickly though - we're hoping to exchange next week/complete September on something and put in an asking price offer within two days of it going on the market to secure it. We sold ours (much cheaper cottage) within 10 days for pretty much asking price.

Sorry for essay - hope it's helpful!

LovelyWeatherForDucks Wed 14-Aug-13 14:05:49

Another vote for Godalming - we've moved here from Guildford (after a year of house hunting, though!) and had our baby here, we were after more of a small town lifestyle than we could get in Guildford.
It was difficult in Guildford to find something within walking distance of town/station plus near good schools (Ideal area for us would be around Wodeland Avenue or off Epsom Rd toward Charlotteville). Whereas in Godalming we are in walking distance of schools/high street with local butcher, bakery etc/2 stations/leisure centre/supermarket/soft play - all the essentials really, and its brilliant for children around here too. We live on the farncombe side of godalming, so less than a 10 mins drive into Guildford so easy to pop there for shopping etc.
Haslemere is nice but a bit of a trek on the train into London, but is quite a bit cheaper. We also considered Farnham but again a bit far into London.

JooLoo Wed 14-Aug-13 17:48:24

Wow just logged on after work and really appreciate the responses. Looks like Godalming coming out top in this particular poll! Am surprised nobody has commented on Dorking. Anybody out there who wants to put in a bid?
Dinky I don't think Reigate would work for us unfortunately, doesn't meet my train criteria and is a bit further away from family.
Am worried about comments about the Godalming property market though, will be difficult to manage that from overseas!

HarderToKidnap Wed 14-Aug-13 18:36:47

With that budget, why are you leaving Kingston?

Ablababla Wed 14-Aug-13 18:42:59

You can't get a decent 3 bed for 600k in the nicer parts of Kingston now. Harder. We are also comtemplating leaving Kingston for somewhere cheaper/more country but really wavering about the decision. Can I ask what made your mind up OP?

HarderToKidnap Wed 14-Aug-13 18:49:19

Can't you? Just bought, in Surbiton mind, for 500k. It's semi d though. With an extension it'll be amazing and obviously fab schools etc. Seems quite a lot comes up in kingston for 600, smaller properties though, I guess if you want the huge house you do have to move.

I love Dorking, it's very cute and close to lots of green space. Have you looked into ashtead or Banstead OP? Friends who live there rave about them.

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