East Kent is almost a peninsular, usually only passed through when you are making a dash for the Shuttle to France but it now has many more reasons to be chosen as a place to live. The High Speed train service has, at last, made the area a sensible place to move to if you still need to get to London; Ashford is just 38 minutes from St Pancras and Canterbury just under an hour. And the good news is that the service is very reliable (well relatively speaking!). But don’t be fooled, some of the other High Speed routes are not as fast as they look because of their stopping pattern. Don’t rule these, or the old train lines, out though since they still offer a varied service into the other London termini. The Cannon Street service to Faversham takes an hour and a quarter (ten minutes more than to St Pancras) but the Charing Cross route from Folkestone via Ashford takes far longer. Canterbury is also served in an hour and a half by slow trains to Charing Cross or Victoria.
The area around Ashford is on the eastern side of the Kent Downs and is unspoilt agricultural land which stretches eastwards to the coast at Dover. The countryside is quintessentially English with patchwork felds exemplifying the large number of small farms which has resulted from Gavelkind, the Saxon system where inheritance was equal among sons. The result of this is a large number of small communities and good sized farmhouses.
The Three Downs Valleys stretching north away from Ashford, to Petham, Stelling Minnis and Elham offer some of the best countryside and excellent state primary schools at Bodsham, Stowting, Petham and Stelling Minnis. The village of Brook is always popular with doctors, being within a few minutes of the William Harvey hospital in Ashford. Further away, Bridge, Bishopsbourne and Littlebourne at the north of the Elham valley are all good community villages and if you don’t mind a longer commute you could consider Wickhambreux, Ickham, Adisham or Wingham to the east.
To the east of Canterbury, with the exception of Westbere and Sturry the area is less popular.
To the south of Ashford is the Romney Marsh; house prices here are slightly better value with some lovely old rectories and manor houses but there is little activity except farming and to the south Lydd with its airport and Dungeness power station. For committed town livers, Faversham, Herne Bay and Whitstable on the north coast, Canterbury in the centre and Hythe on the south are favourites; with the sea being so close, there is a ribbon of towns around the whole coastline, the north having been a favourite of the Victorians and deemed to have had sea air suitable for children at boarding school. This legacy is another reason to move to the area, several excellent prep schools remain and Kent has retained its grammar schools as well. The seafront at Hythe is a popular area with sea view houses still affordable whereas around Deal and Sandwich, perhaps because of the excellent golf courses, they are much less so. Ramsgate has retained some lovely Georgian terraces and is becoming more popular again when compared to Margate.
House prices in east Kent are well below other areas in the south east. A 3 bed village house will be between £350 and £450,000, A 5 bed house £550 to £650,000 while a Georgian family home can be found between £900 and £1,500,000.