Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Property in Tunbridge Wells
Located around 40 miles from London, the borough of Tunbridge Wells in Kent has become a property hot spot in recent years, offering excellent schools, stunning countryside, easy access to the coast, and all the local amenities you could need. Around half of residents in the borough live in the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, which itself boasts excellent transport links, multiple green spaces and a thriving arts scene. The property market in the area is unsurprisingly a fast-moving one, with stunning Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian homes sitting alongside new flat developments to offer buyers, and renters, a wide range of choice.
Why buy in Tunbridge Wells?
Tunbridge Wells offers the appealing combination of being in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), having excellent transport links to London and being renowned for its boutique, independent feel, thanks to its impressive mix of well-known brands and trendy independent stores and restaurants. This combination makes it an incredibly popular, and a pricey, place to live.
More than 69% of the Tunbridge Wells region is in an AONB and is designated as a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation, so it’s to be expected that the area is popular with people who enjoy the outdoors. In fact, there are a whole host of nature reserves and woodlands across the borough, including the Broadwater Warren RSPB reserve, the Tudeley Woods and Heathlands RSPB reserve, Hemsted Forest and Bedgebury National Pinetum, a national collection of over 10,000 conifer specimens which includes many rare, historically important and endangered trees.
The Tunbridge Wells Commons are also popular with locals. Just a few minutes’ walk from Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre, they are famous for their large sandstone outcrops such as Toad Rock and Wellington Rocks, and feature cricket grounds, lakes, ponds, woods, heathland and the remains of the old racecourse.
Tunbridge Wells also has a whole host of facilities for outdoor activities, including golf courses, outdoor and wild swimming opportunities, fishing lakes and horse-riding schools. It’s even the only place in England to have its own dedicated curling rink!
If shopping is more your thing, The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells is a must visit. Its elegant covered and colonnaded walkway is home to a variety of specialist independent shops, art galleries and open-air cafés, restaurants and bars. Events are also held in these charming surroundings, including a free summer jazz festival, a food festival and a fortnightly craft market.
For larger brands, the High Street offers a great selection, including Sweaty Betty, Anthropologie and Mint Velvet, while Royal Victoria Place features chains including M&S, WHSmith, Oliver Bonas, Boots and Sports Direct.
Of course, its situation in the Garden of England means local produce is also easy to find across Tunbridge Wells and there are farmers’ markets aplenty. Royal Tunbridge Wells holds a market on the first and third Saturday of the month; Cranbrook holds one on the fourth Saturday; and Lamberhurst hosts one on the first Wednesday of every month to name just a few.
The arts scene is also an active one. There are the three theatres across the borough, the Assembly Hall Theatre, the Trinity Theatre & Arts Centre, and the Forum. Between them they showcase an array of genres, including comedy, music, drama and cinematic productions.
Schools in Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells continues to be popular with families, one reason being the high level of schooling available across the borough, both state and private. Speldhurst Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School and St Peter’s Church of England Primary School are both rated outstanding, while a whole host, including Claremont Primary School and The Wells Free School, are rated good.
When it comes to secondary level, Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School, Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, St Gregory’s Catholic School and Skinners’ Kent Academy top the Ofsted rankings.
There’s also a good choice of private schools, including Benenden School, St Ronan’s and The Schools at Somerhill.
Tunbridge Wells is on a mainline Southeastern railway from London Charing Cross to Hastings. Direct services run at least every half hour and take less than an hour. A return ticket starts at £17.60, weekly tickets cost from £138.90, monthly from £533.40, while annual tickets start at £5,556. There are also connecting services to Gatwick Airport.
Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports can also be reached by road from Royal Tunbridge Wells. Gatwick is just 40 minutes away, while Heathrow and London City Airports are an hour away. Stansted, Luton and Southend Airports are under a 90-minute drive.
House prices in Tunbridge Wells
Given everything on offer, it’s perhaps not a surprise that house prices in Tunbridge Wells are around £160,000 higher than the national average. According to property sale data published by HM Land Registry, the average price paid for a property in Tunbridge Wells was £510,859 for the year ending June 2022.
Detached houses lead the way at an average price of £899,963; semi-detached homes come in at just under £500,000; and terraced properties average around £395,000. The average price for a flat or maisonette in Tunbridge Wells is £289,058. Detached properties have recorded the biggest rise in prices over the past decade – an incredible 70.1%. At the other end of the spectrum, prices for flats have increased by 49.7%.
Buy to lets in Tunbridge Wells
According to research from HMRC’s Valuation Office Agency, the average monthly rent in Tunbridge Wells is £1,147 as of September 2022, making it £200 more than the average for England.
Of course, rents vary massively depending on property type, with single rooms coming in at around £580 per month, rising to more than £2,200 for a four-bedroom house.
Rents have been pretty steady over the past 12 months and two-bed flats continue to account for the largest share of the stock.
Where to live in Tunbridge Wells?
There are multiple areas in Royal Tunbridge Wells that are particularly desirable, especially among families. High on the list are the Georgian manor houses located next to the town’s four parks – Hungershall Park, Camden Park, Calverley Park and Nevill Park. These private roads offer peace, space and beautiful architecture, all within a short walk of the town centre.
Hawkenbury and St Johns are also popular with families. Hawkenbury offers a good mix of family housing in various sizes and styles, while St Johns is close to many of the schools in the area.
For young professionals, The Village is more sought after thanks to its central location and smaller property sizes that still offer period charm. It’s also in the catchment area for Claremont Primary.
Those looking to get more for their money should consider Southborough at the north of the town. While less expensive than Tunbridge Wells it still has a good supply of family homes and offers easy access to the town of Tonbridge.
Novello aims to be the best value and most flexible surveyors in Tunbridge Wells, offering a comprehensive, impartial survey, invaluable follow-on advice, and a friendly, professional and responsive service at all times.