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Nice family areas in (outer) London for 600k 3bed house and good schools?

(33 Posts)
AnnaVad Tue 10-Sep-19 23:29:09

I would like to ask for advice on nice family safe areas in London / nearest commuter belt.
We are looking to buy a quality 3-bed house with driveway & decent garden - budget up to 550-600k.
Both work in central London (Euston/ Farringdon/ city) and have plans to have kids quite soon, so looking for good state schools catchment areas and nice parks.
Would be great to have a nice high street and commute to central London no longer than 30-40min (up to 70min max door to desk), preferably underground, but train could be ok.

Basically looking for something "Villagey", as described earlier in other thread as - not having to leave your area to do things eg lots of places to shop, entertain & eat & green space very close by, [but also within daily commutable distance to central London]. smile

We are quite flexible in terms of directions and have no specific wider family/friends restrictions, but South-West or North would be preferable I guess...
* Sutton / Cheam (tricky to find the "right" part of it for the commute + decent environment?)
* Carshalton (pricey?)
* Epsom (a bit longer commute?)
* Kingston / Surbiton / Teddington (pricey?)
* Walton-on-Thames (further and further away)
* Barnet (any options within this budget?)
* Ruislip (haven't really properly checked yet)

On the east side we might be considering:
* Chingford (not too many good schools?)
* Chigwell / Loughton / Epping
* Woodford
* Upminster

Any feedback on those areas and where exactly to search within those or anything to stay away from?
Any other nice areas we've missed?
Any specific schools within those to keep an eye on?

We have just recently started looking and are not in a rush, I would like to take my time choosing the home where we will raise our kids.
We are planning to buy next summer and it is already quite difficult to find the right quality/money balance and understand where to focus our search so would really appreciate your advice! star

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Wed 11-Sep-19 08:55:34

Kingston is pricey but has some very good primaries, with excellent grammar schools thrown in. People do move to the area because of the schools, hence pressure on prices.

KT1 (more central Kingston) or KT3 (New Malden just down the road) might be worth looking at, as long as you're not bent on a very spacious property. KT2 would almost certainly be beyond your budget.

Richmond Park and Bushey Park (both huge Royal Parks) are very close by, plus there's the river and a good shopping centre with a mall and John Lewis, etc.
I don't know the other areas well enough to comment.,

PrayingandHoping Wed 11-Sep-19 08:58:50

Look at tring, 40 mins train into London Euston. Good schools and a nice small town surrounded by countryside

Orchardgreen Wed 11-Sep-19 10:00:22

All your areas in SW are not good for Euston/Farringdon. Commuting any distance is soul-destroying. I think eastwards would be better and you will get more for your money.

RossPoldarkFan Wed 11-Sep-19 10:05:56

Although not in your suggested areas, Bromley meets your other criteria. Good commuting from Bromley South to Farringdon/St Pancras. Prices in your price range and the area is fairly green and leafy. Schools are good. Bromley town centre has a large shopping centre, West Wickham, Beckenham and Orpington have good local shops/bars/cafes.

skippy67 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:10:25

Hayes in Bromley is lovely.

NationMcKinley Wed 11-Sep-19 10:13:40

Shirley, West Wickham, Eden Park, Bromley, Hayes are all nice areas with good transport links.

JoJoSM2 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:44:15

I know South London and parts of Surrey well so can give good insight.

In Surrey:
Walton- nice riverside, average town centre, wouldn't move there for state education (not nearly as good as some of the other areas)
Epsom- trains into Waterloo, great secondary single sex comps, average town centre

In London:
Teddington - pretty fancy, a very similar vibe to expensive parts of zones 2-3 and you'll need double the budget for a half decent property
Surbiton- also expensive as super fast trains, secondary state options a little iffy
Kingston-massive town centre, great shops, riverside restaurants etc I love it for a shopping trip but can't imagine living there - loads of shoppers (half of SW London and Surrey shop there), students, traffic etc.
New Malden- quality family outer suburb:very good schools, safe, decent houses with large gardens. The high street is typical of many outer suburbs - useful but looks a bit random. New Malden is close to Kingston and Wimbledon so the prices are 50% higher than very similar areas elsewhere.

I live in Sutton so can go into more detail here:
Sutton is a town in the middle of the borough of Sutton, Cheam Village 1mile to the West, Carshalton Village/Beeches 1-1.5miles to the East. Amazing primaries and excellent comps for secondary + 5 local grammar schools you can try for.
Sutton high street isn't lovely but useful (massive Boots, Waterstones etc) and actually a great number of independent restaurants, cafes and pubs but also pound and vape shops so overall impression not great. Oh, there is a Flannels for bigger budgets too ;)
Cheam Village has quite a lovely high street, Carshalton Village is picturesque with fab pubs. Carshalton Beeches is a super leafy and quiet 30's suburb. Everywhere is full of professional families who moved for state education and (relatively) affordable housing.
There is loads for kids to do an the area is well suited to outdoorsy/sporty people: loads of sports clubs(tennis, rugby, cricket, football), refurbished leisure centres, climbing wall, public golf course, trampoline park, countryside on the doorstep, short drive to the Surrey Hills and 1h to the beach. Also fitness and dance studios, gyms (including budget and 2x very snazzy David Lloyd ones).
You definitely can walk to everywhere to buy/do things from most places.
Your best commute would probably be the Thameslink from Sutton or Carshalton. DH works your way and actually cycles some days (under 1h). Since you haven't got children yet, if you stay out super late in central London, you can catch a bus/£10 mini cab from the tube at 3am.
Your budget would get the house you want.

morningbell Wed 11-Sep-19 10:44:27

Might find something in Chislehurst for that budget.

AnnaVad Wed 11-Sep-19 14:02:20

@GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER thanks for your comments! Yes both parks are fabulous, will definitely try to find smth in KT, not sure about the budget though...
My DH has quite ambitious expectations on the house size and would be ready to go further out to get more for our budget, while for myself both the area quality & commute time are more important than having extra space (even though we are planning kids soon - it is still several years before we really will need extra space and start looking at 4beds).
We are now in a 2bed flat which is quite spacious but still it is a flat, so I consider moving to 3bed house quite an upgrade already. Obviously would be good to have a spacious house in a nice area and with good commute (hello universe if you can read this) but I try to be realistic with our current budget.

@RossPoldarkFan @skippy67 @NationMcKinley @morningbell @PrayingandHoping
Thanks for these ideas guys, haven't considered those yet but will definitely have a look! (And probably get back to you with some more questions smile )

@JoJoSM2 Thank you so much for your detailed comments on Sutton! star We have just visited it last weekend (very briefly) and only covered around-stations area for both Sutton & Cheam, the latter does look lovely while Sutton centre is a bit hectic/mixed, though quite convenient for shopping as you mentioned.

We’ve had a brief walk around north of A232/Carshalton road from Sutton to Cheam, while I guess the better areas would be to the south of the mainline route?

With regards to the bus/cab option - don’t really remember when was the last time I was coming home at 3am (boring me lol) but definitely a very good point as it is nice to have flexibility on commute options.

We will definitely go there again for a proper area review and perhaps visit the Nonsuch park.
Will have a look at Carshalton as well, even though a quick superficial online property search showed quite a limited choice within our budget.

@Orchardgreen Yep, I see how SW is not ideal for city/Euston but I wonder if it would be worth the commute?
While the city / central London commute is a key for us, I do expect to change job/office location at least once within the next 7-10 years (expected min time of owning house before we move again) so I wouldn’t really focus too much on exact station for commute. I guess 10-15min difference within Zone1 commute is something that I could manage daily if this implies we get a better living area / environment overall.

Would anyone perhaps have any ideas on North / East side areas with good schools just to compare?

JoJoSM2 Wed 11-Sep-19 14:48:17

OP, if you're going to look Bromley way, I doubt you'll like Bromley town centre itself. Secondaries are a mixed bag there. West Wickham is more of typical outer burbs (sought after Langley schools). Hayes has the cutest library but it's basically a quiet 30's burb + Hayes School is very good.
Out of the different areas in Bromley, Beckenham sounds your cup of tea. It has a town centre with independent shops and cafe culture, parks, great schools and is zone 4. There will be some houses in your budget although probably not in the most desirable areas.

Around Sutton/Cheam/Carshalton, the more desirable areas tend to be in the south, walking distance to the countryside lol but that doesn't sound the top of your priority list lol
For Cheam, you'd be ok anywhere within walking distance of the village and Nonsuch Park. South Cheam and Landseer Conservation Area will be massively over budget but there should be quite a lot of houses to fit your bill - all good areas.

Around Carshalton Village, probably best to look around the high street and further south around Carshalton Park. There will be good houses for your budget but they get snapped up very quickly and even these days you get bidding wars. Grove and Carshalton Parks + the Ecology Centre are smaller but you'd be close to the very lovely Beddington Park. Oaks is a country park a longer walk away+ lavender fields and pastures with sheep that way ;)

In Sutton, the south side in more desirable. The north side has some roads that will look quite unloved but school catchments are fab, very safe and largely professional families. I don't get the sense that you'd like Sutton High Street to be your main hang out spot, though.

Kingston takes 20 mins to drive to for shopping (+ 10mins to park). Or 5 stops on the X26.

I wonder what you'll make of Kingston as a place to live if you go to check it out :D

Mind you, I'd say outer burbs are nicer places to live with a family than fancier places closer in. I moved to Sutton from Between the Commons (fancy bit in SW11). Further out it's greener, less traffic, better for kids, better schools, much lower crime etc The trade offs aqre the lack of fancy boutiques and restaurants and the commute is longer. But you won't be dining out 3 times a week once you have kids anyway. You'll be going to parks, soft play, kids activities, spend weekends at kiddie birthday parties etc.

UncomfortableSilence Wed 11-Sep-19 16:27:06

I live just by Upminster and grew up in Woodford, they are both great areas.

Schooling in Upminster is excellent as is commuting, you have the choice of either the C2C into Fenchurch Street or district line all the way.

You might struggle a little to buy under £600k but there are things around, Upminster has a lovely park, nice restaurants, pubs and cafes.

I don't know what schools are like now in Woodford but obviously you have the central line straight into the city, houses are expensive, my mum and dad still live there and their house value is ridiculous but that's what you get for an east London postcode.

Falcon1 Wed 11-Sep-19 17:44:13

Look at Long Ditton, just next to Surbiton. Villagey vibe. You can walk to Surbiton for the shops and fast trains, cycle 10 mins along the river to Kingston and you're in the catchment for excellent schools (Hinchley wood school currently rated Surrey's best state secondary). It's not cheap but you might be able to find a doer upper.

LBOCS2 Wed 11-Sep-19 21:38:15

Sanderstead? Commuter trains direct to St Pancras through the City during the week (and you'll get a seat), excellent schools, lots of green space. Not an amazing high st (more villagey than town) but close to shopping in Bromley and Croydon and there are a few very good bars and restaurants locally too.

dany174 Thu 12-Sep-19 10:24:02

I can't tell you about the others but we've been living in Epsom for the last 6 years and have no intention of leaving any time soon.

600k should be enough to get you a nice house around here but you might need a bit of patience because there are not a lot of houses coming on market in the nice areas at the moment. Personally I would not consider anything between Hook rd and Upper High street as its just not a very nice area (not bad as in high in crime just not very pretty looking, no parks, quite industrial). The south of Epsom I personally think is the nicest part and around College rd is the most desirable area.

Why we like Epsom:
-Great green spaces, nice parks, lots of trees, Epsom Downs.
-Location. 40 by train to London (waterloo, victoria and london bridge), 30 min by car to Gatwick, 40 min by car to Heathrow if traffic is not too bad.
-Nice town center, plenty of restaurants and cafe's, cinema, theatre, library, multiple supermarkets, decent shops for every day needs and a market twice a week, organic farmers market once a month. If we really want to go shopping we go to Kingston or Guilford.
-Great location of day trips, easy into London easy into the countryside.

Not so great
- Not in Oyster zone, train into London is expensive.
- Traffic on the high-street can get very busy and slow at times.
- Not a lot of independent shops, mostly chains.

Orchardgreen Thu 12-Sep-19 12:58:02

Re Epsom, you could get a nice older style semi in Stoneleigh, which is in the Oyster zone. Walkable to Nonsuch Park.

Ewell West is also the last Oyster station before Epsom, which isn’t Oyster. —And also why all the CF commuters park in my street—

HerculesMulligan Thu 12-Sep-19 12:59:41

Sadly, I think you should cross Teddington off your list. I love it here but your budget is a bit too small for what you want and the commute to Euston is a pain in the arse.

AnnaVad Thu 12-Sep-19 14:40:56

@JoJoSM2 Thanks for the additional info on Bromley areas – will check them out as they do sound relevant to what we are looking for and really good in terms of commute. However I feel I would probably tend to keep a bit to the West as I get a sense than in the more eastern part the property search could be hit and miss for us.

And even though the countryside on the doorstep is not on the top of my priority list, to be honest I am falling in love with Sutton from how you describe it already (not the station area though :D ). Both Cheam and Carshalton sound really nice to me so we’ll see what we could find within those areas.

With regards to Kingston - we’ve recently visited friends there and it seemed like a great day-out-along-the-river kind of place and definitely a good shopping spot, but I didn’t have a chance to check out the residential areas really, apart from the north streets or Kingston where our friends live, closer to Ham/Richmond just next to Tiffin Girls’, but I suspect this would be nowhere near our budget at least at this point.

Is there anything that could surprise me in KT based on your thoughts? :D

I’ve seen several houses within our budget closer to Surbiton which for me is quite attractive in terms of commute and I love having a river in walking distance, however I guess I need to go and actually see/feel the area before I make any conclusions.

Will also check New Malden as mentioned earlier, high street looks fine, probably worth looking at West Barnes as well?

So far the outer burbs feel like what we would be happy to move to, and if there’s a nice villagey high street – that would be ideal smile
Not that I would expect to dine out 3 times a week with kids lol but I guess it is good to have this vibe just somewhere near (haha we’ll see what I say when I we decide to move to rural countryside in 10 years).

@UncomfortableSilence Thanks for your comments! Would you say Hornchurch is worth looking at together with Upminster? We’ve had a brief ride around both areas a couple of months ago but would be good to know how’s life there and any concerns about the Hornchurch, or perhaps Elm Park - it looked a bit less inspiring to me, but maybe worth checking again? Upminster does look very good but as you noted, might be a bit challenging for us in terms of budget for now.

Woodford has been on my mind for some time as it feels very local and with nice high streets and the Epping Forest in walking distance is amazing. Yes Central line does its job and the prices are relevant to that, but there’s been several options more around Woodford Green / Roding Valley and South Woodford / Woodford Bridge – any comments on those areas? Did you feel they have any Redbridge / Gants Hill / Barking influence at all?
I had my phone snatched at a bus stop by a guy on a bike at Wanstead recently - I do understand it could happen anywhere for sure, but not the best experience really and I guess having rows of council houses in that proximity doesn't help either.

@Falcon1 Thanks for this! Long Ditton is a good shout actually! Not cheap at all but I guess we can try doing some house-hunting there as well.

@LBOCS2 Thanks, will have a look at Sanderstead. Would you say Purley would be relevant for our criteria/budget?

@dany174 Thanks for the detailed comments on Epsom! I’ve been thinking whether we shall extend our search there but it seemed a bit of a stretch in terms of distance / commute. However I guess it could be worth checking based on your description (slowly moving towards M25 haha J a couple more posts and I’ll start considering Guildford :D ).

@Orchardgreen Cheers! Stoneleigh looks interesting, nicely located just between Cheam and Epsom. Would you say we shall check Ewell too?

@HerculesMulligan Yes, Teddington does look a bit pricey for us at this stage, but I wonder if it would be worth trying something around Twickenham?

No ideas on north side anyone? halo Would have been most obvious direction for Euston commute but apparently it’s far out of our budget?

Thanks everyone – really great to get so many insights and opinions! star

avocuddl Thu 12-Sep-19 15:28:46

Leighton Buzzard ticks all your boxes imo smile

JoJoSM2 Thu 12-Sep-19 16:50:59

If you wanted to be close to your friends, you might be able to get a small fixer upper in Ham. No train stations within walking distance, though. I doubt you'd get anything much is a decent part of Twickenham.

Surbiton way, Maple Road is very nice for hanging out but that stretch of the river isn't very attractive. Long Ditton and particularly Thames Ditton are very pretty but miles from amenities. Primaries are good but not a patch on most of the other areas on the thread. Secondaries iffy. To aim for Hinchley Wood, you'd need to be a particular primary catchment as it's a feeder system there. No bigger parks within walking distance in that neck of the woods as far as I'm aware.

For super quick trains, you could also try Chislehurst. Very green, better primaries than Surbiton but secodary options for boys aren't good.

Looked to see what West Barnes is smile Motspur Park. Classic 30's outer burbs. Very similar to New Malden. Other similar areas are Worcester Park, West Wickham. Stoneleigh a bit similar but has a quieter parade of shops by the station. Carshalton Beeches and Hayes are on that quieter side and a lot greener that the other ones. All those have less character than Cheam.

Ewell Village is very pretty (alongside Carshalton Village they're the charming parts of outer burbs with many much older wonky buildings). Not too many amenities in the village itself but more along the main roads.

Purley is largely very green too (once away from the horrid roundabout in the centre) with quick trains. Another place where feeder primaries are important (feeding into Riddlesdown Collegiate). David Lloyd Purley (funnily still in the borough of Sutton) is my favourite. With a baby/toddler, you can drop them off in the creche and go exercise or hang out in the spa - salt water hydropool, citrus steam room, rosemary steam room etc You name it, it's there. A lifesaver on maternity leave if you haven't got a nanny.
Sanderstead is pretty but not as many amenities as Purley(?) If you're going that way, you could also pop into Coulsdon.

fussychica Thu 12-Sep-19 17:56:08

I don't know many of the areas you mentioned but I like Ruislip. The northern edge is best I think, up towards the lido which is a nice resource. It's pretty much on the edge of the countryside and a 3 bed terrace goes from around 450k and a semi on a nice road would be within your 600k budget. Quick access to the M25 and M40 but quite a lot of traffic issues at the moment due to HS2.

UncomfortableSilence Thu 12-Sep-19 18:37:05

Hornchurch is definitely worth considering, pick which part carefully, close to the high street and surrounding parts but not South Hornchurch imo there is a new development being built at the moment called St. George's Park about a 10 min walk from Hornchurch station, worth a look if you like a new build. £600k would be a good budget for Hornchurch and you'd get a decent 3 bed for that price. Upminster you would be looking at something that needs work. Hornchurch has the country park which is lovely and Langton gardens which is my favourite place to go locally.

Upminster Bridge is worth a look too but if you need primary schools check catchments carefully likewise if you are looking at Upminster for Coopers admissions criteria is crazy.

I personally wouldn't choose Elm Park but you would definitely get a house in budget there.

Wanstead is actually lovely as is South Woodford but I think you will struggle in budget.

OpposableThumbs2 Thu 12-Sep-19 18:57:07

Hitchin in Hertfordshire is 38 mins from Farringdon.

catanddogmake6 Thu 12-Sep-19 19:04:58

Have you looked at the Thameslink line into Kings Cross Thameslink/ Farringdon/ Blackfriars etc. Going north there is Mill Hill/ Radlett/ St.Albans/ Harpenden? Generally good schools much easier commute than from Surrey. The line also goes down towards Brighton.

peachypetite Thu 12-Sep-19 19:08:27

Highams park/chingford are great for your commute. Direct to Liverpool st or get off at Walthamstow and jump on the vic line to Euston

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