Top schools in good-value suburbs
affordable locations. With a budget of £750,000 or less you have a shot at a quality family home and a place in an outperforming school too.
KINGSTON UPON THAMES
This far-flung south-west London location attracts buyers from posher climes like Clapham and Chiswick.
In Kingston, said Allison Steele, a sales director at Penney & Co, they can find not only more affordable period homes but also low crime rates, plenty of greenery, beautiful walks along the River Thames — and great schools.
The top prizes, education-wise, are The Tiffin Girls’ School and The Tiffin School (boys), which score some of the best A-level results in Britain and are highly selective. “There is also a host of Ofsted outstanding primary schools in north Kingston,” said Steele.
Parents of bright kids in with a shot of a place at one of the Tiffins can expect to pay between £700,000 and £750,000 for a three-bedroom semi in North Kingston, close to the key schools. A four-bedroom property would be around £900,000. South Kingston is better value (a similar threebedroom house would cost around £650,000) but further from the Tiffins and best primaries.
Kingston’s commute is another point in its favour. A journey to Waterloo takes from half an hour, and an annual season ticket costs £1,852.
Its downside, as with so many of London’s suburbs, is its town centre. Nobody can argue Kingston doesn’t have decent shops, but what it lacks is charisma. Its one-way system is confusing, and while locals love Bentalls and John Lewis it lacks the kind of independent outlets that make shopping a pleasure rather than a chore.
Developer British Land has planning consent for a £400 million plan to demolish and rebuild the heart of Kingston’s town centre with 400 flats, shops, and leisure facilities; in an ideal world it would curate the new busi- nesses it allows in, King’s Cross style, to make Kingston more interesting.
Five miles east of Kingston, and the Wimbledon side of the SW20 postcode is a predictable mix of multi-million pound tennis star-friendly mansions and elegant period villas.
Raynes Park (sometimes styled “West Wimbledon” by optimistic agents) is a more down-to- earth sort of choice, with great-value Victorian terraces and 1920s and 1930s semis. It also possesses one of London’s top- performing schools, Ursuline High School. Sami Husseyin, director of Webster & Darby estate agents, says most of his clients are upsizing from more expensive locations like Putney, Southfields, and Clapham. The outperforming Ursuline is a huge draw to the area, as are quality primary schools like Hollymount School, rated good by Ofsted, and bags of open space
Commuters like Raynes Park because trains to Waterloo take from 23 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £1,276.
The other factor, says Husseyin, is while a typical three-bedroom semidetached house near Wimbledon Station would cost from around £1.1 million, in Raynes Park the starting price for a home south of the station is around £750,000. “It is a very residential area,” said Husseyin, a local resident himself. “There is a small high street, Worple Road, with some bars and restaurants, and Wimbledon Village is only a 15minute walk up the road.”
This has become a magnet for families looking for value for money, and in SE3 a terraced house costs an average £668,667, making it a bargain by London standards.
This is one of the capital’s most mashed-up postcodes, combining the verdant beauty of Greenwich Park with resolutely urban Kidbrooke.
Kidbrooke’s secondary star is Thomas Tallis School, which gets the best average A-level results in Greenwich. And, although it is in an area best known for its disastrous social housing, just east of Greenwich Park there are also streets of period homes ideal for families.
Meanwhile, Kidbrooke’s messy estates are currently focus of an impressive £1 billion of investment creating 20,000 new homes, served not only by a 22minute train service to London Bridge but a promised extension of the Docklands Light Railway.