This is the third in our five-part series looking at where to live near the most ‘outstanding’ schools. In the next installments we look at the best places to live near top private junior and senior schools.
A child’s early years are some of their most formative, so it’s important to ensure you have the best help for raising your child.
“Nursery schools are often feeders to great state schools or a stepping stone into the private system,” says Liza-Jane Kelly of Savills. “Knowing that you are buying in a neighbourhood which will provide decent childcare from a young age right through to senior schooling will often confirm in a buyer’s mind that they are making the right choice to settle somewhere.”
In this third installment of our five-part series on where to live near ‘outstanding’ schools Telegraph Property has hunted down the best areas in England near the most top nurseries (both state and private), where homes are affordable, property prices are on the up, and the jobs market is booming.
We pinpointed 47 areas in total and have identified the top spot in each of the nine English regions except the North East, where there were no areas that met all of the criteria.
Best of all: Tadley, Hampshire
Average house price (according to the Office for National Statistics): £310,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home (according to Savills): £1,559
The golden triangle between Andover, Newbury and Basingstoke is one of the best places in the country to find the perfect combination of excellent nursery schools and high quality of life. Tucked on the fringes of the North Wessex Downs, this pocket of Hampshire includes the quaint villages of Bramley, Sherborne St John, Old Basing and Overton.
Living in any one of these villages means having at least five nurseries rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted within close reach. Best of all is Tadley, where you can buy a home within walking distance of top pre-schools such as Bo-Peeps Day Nursery and The Saplings for around £300,000.
“Buyers like the fact that you get much more for your money here than in other parts of Hampshire,” explains Mick Gooding of local estate agency Gascoigne-Pees. “Tadley is surrounded by forests and fields, but you’re still only 10 miles or so from big hubs like Reading and Newbury. The town has everything families need: a library, swimming pool and sports clubs.”
Younger parents, he says, gravitate towards the two- and three-bedroom homes in the town centre, before upsizing and moving further into the countryside as their families grow.
East of England
Best of all: west Cambridge
Average house price: £605,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,900
From the cradle to graduation day, Cambridgeshire is a great place to get a top education. Three areas here made it into our list: the leafy suburbs around Newnham and west Cambridge; Trumpington, a village three miles outside the city; and the area around Duxford in the south of the county.
Homeowners in these places can pick between at least four ‘outstanding’ nursery schools (seven in the Duxford area) and have higher than average salaries, from £58,700 in Duxford to over £70,000 in Newnham.
This affluent pocket is “one of the most family-friendly areas of Cambridge”, says Richard Freshwater of Cheffins estate agency. He recommends buyers look to the streets bordering Grantchester Meadows. “Children love the wild swimming, pond dipping and just watching the cattle grazing,” he says.
However you’ll have to pay the price for these sought-after postcodes: an elegant Victorian or Edwardian terrace in west Cambridge could easily sell for upwards of £1 million, he says.
Best of all: Danson Park, Bexley
Average house price: £415,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,553
While in some parts of London, buyers must pay over 20 times their salary to get on the ladder, around Bexleyheath, to the south east of London, you pay less than eight times. The area around Danson Park, with its Grade I listed villa and boating pool, is particularly popular with commuters.
At £55,900, average household incomes are high, unemployment is low, and handy train connections from Bexleyheath take you in to London Bridge in half an hour.
You can pick up a Sixties home near the four top nurseries in the area for as little as £300,000. For those who prefer a more modern style, new-build homes along the Rochester Way sell for closer to £500,000.
The only other place in London to fit all of the criteria was Twickenham South in Richmond upon Thames.
Best of all: Tidworth and Ludgershall, Wiltshire
Average house price: £234,995
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,220
Buyers with young children in mind in the South West should make a beeline for Wiltshire. This county has a number of places with at least four excellent nursery schools nearby: Tidworth and Ludgershall near Andover, the towns and villages around Salisbury including Wilton and Whaddon, and the picture postcard Bradford-on-Avon.
Most affordable of all are the towns of Tidworth and Ludgershall, where you have to spend less than five times your salary to buy a home near ‘outstanding’ pre-schools such as St Andrews and The Nest.
“Tidworth has gone through a significant redevelopment over the past 15 years,” explains Savills’ Patrick Brady. “It’s moved from being a small military village to a big town with lots of great sports facilities and shops.” Most of the homes here are very well-priced new-builds. “You’ll be paying from £150,000 to £300,000 for a three-bedroom house surrounded by amenities – around half the amount you’d pay in Salisbury,” says Brady.
For those preferring old school charm to modern convenience he recommends the pretty market town of Wilton. “The Earl of Pembroke has a home here. It’s much smaller than Tidworth but has kept its character. Even better: there are plans for a new train station in the pipeline.” Prices in Wilton fall midway between Tidworth and Salisbury.
Best of all: Fleckney, Harborough
Average house price: £245,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £971
Hop on a train from London and within an hour you can be in Market Harborough, with its timber-framed buildings and buzzing town square.
The average house here costs around £330,000 according to Rightmove, yet in the surrounding areas including Fleckney and Langton homes cost almost £100,000 less (around five times local salaries). These areas are near four top nursery schools, including Dairy Farm and Little Me.
Homeowners in the area have seen the value of their properties rise by 40 per cent over the past five years, as buyers look for better value outside of the main local transport hubs. The most sought-after homes are generally clustered around Fleckney High Street, which has a number of pubs and shops.
Also top for the East Midlands are the villages of Clipston and Yelvertoft near Daventry.
Best of all: west Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Average house price: £327,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,243
With a Michelin star gastropub, its own arts festival and an Elizabethan palace, Kenilworth is far from being a sleepy commuter town.
While house prices across the town stand at around £400,000, young families can pay much less and still have five nurseries schools ranked ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted on their doorstep, by hunting for a home in the more affordable west of the town.
The best places for central properties with plenty of character are the roads around Abbey Fields, a 68-acre park with a lake and swimming pool. For more spacious homes with big gardens, look to Beehive Hill, where you can also find the excellent Burrow Nursery.
Best of all: Altrincham, Trafford
Average house price: £370,000
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,852
Of the four areas to meet all of the criteria in the North West (Ashton upon Mersey, Altrincham and Dunham, Hale and Poynton), three are located in Trafford, in the vast suburbs of Manchester.
“From nurseries all the way up to sixth form, Trafford is stuffed with top drawer schools,” says Martin Elliott, from estate agent Hunters’ Manchester office. One of the other big draws for families, he says, is the combination of plentiful green space and speedy transport links into Manchester (trams from Altrincham into the city take around half an hour). “Kids can explore 250 acres of deer park and a Georgian country house at Dunham Massey, or take a boat out on the lake at the Grade II-listed Stamford Park.”
It’s the Victorian and Edwardian townhouses that are really fought over in Altrincham, Elliott adds. Although average house prices are around £400,000, these homes will easily go for upwards of £800,000.
Yorkshire and the Humber
Best of all: Boston Spa & Bramham
Average house price: £324,995
Average monthly rent for a three-bedroom home: £1,235
Home to Geoffrey Boycott and a local beer festival, Boston Spa offers a true taste of Yorkshire life. The village has three primary schools and is bisected by the White Rose Way, a popular walking trail. Nearby Bramham has a number of good pubs and independent shops.
Both are within easy reach of four outperforming nursery schools including Whitwood House and Brook Babes. The villages sit midway between York and Leeds – 15 miles from each. For a pretty Georgian stone villa with a garden you’ll be paying around £800,000; but you can still pick up a modern apartment near the High Street in Boston Spa for less than £300,000.
This is a five-part series from Telegraph Property on where to live near the most 'outstanding' schools. It will be published every Tuesday morning for five weeks. Come back next Tuesday to find out the best places to live near top-drawer private prep schools.