Moving to Kingston Upon Thames
Are you moving to Kingston? Kingston Upon Thames, known as Kingston, is both a royal borough and an outer borough of London. Formed by the amalgamation of Kingston, Malden, Coombe and Surbiton in 1965, it is now home to the government offices of Surrey. Its neighbourhoods, Kingston Town, Maldens and Coombe, Surbiton, and South of the Borough offer a wide variety of accommodation and are renowned as having excellent schools. With a surfeit of culture, Henry VIII’s Hampton Court is the most famous landmark.
Our free, in-depth Moving to Kingston report includes info on:
• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city
Putting Kingston Upon Thames on the Map
Located just 12 miles south-west of the City of London, Kingston lies on the south bank of the River Thames. Central Kingston is mainly a retail centre, with commercial offices and civic buildings. Its main green space is the river frontage. Although an extremely popular area, Kingston is not serviced by a local tube station but offers many other forms of transport.
- Heathrow Airport is just a 30-minute drive or an hour by bus, traffic permitting. There are buses every 10 minutes.
- Kingston is an hour by car or bus from Gatwick Airport.
- There are no direct trains from Kingston to either of these airports, but there are plenty of connecting trains, all involving one change. There are 96 trains per day from Gatwick and a huge number from Heathrow.
- London is well known for its traffic congestion, and there is a congestion charge for driving into the city.
- The over ground train service from Kingston, Norbiton and Hampton Wick stations takes around 25 minutes to Waterloo. Fast trains from Kingston station to Waterloo take 30 minutes, or locals can reach Victoria in 40 minutes via Clapham Junction
- Kingston has an exceptional bus service, with forty bus routes, including 8-night buses.
- For the enthusiasts, it is approximately a 20-mile cycle ride to the city. It is a flat and windy route.
- It will take around 45-minutes to drive into the city, out of rush hour. The most direct route would by the A3.
- The famous London taxis are always an option.
- River buses provide an excellent alternative on days when A3 traffic is particularly bad. In summer, there are peak time services between Kingston and several London stations, including Canary Wharf and London Bridge.
Close to the river and the city, Kingston is an expensive place to live, but care must be taken that you live within the locale of your chosen school’s catchment area. During centuries of growth, Kingston has distinctive local identities making up its historic character. There are over 300 listed buildings, with 16% being Grades one and two. Two or three buildings are added to the list every year.
Victorian houses, with anything from two to six bedrooms, are in plentiful supply. The most popular area is North Kingston. One characteristic is Victorian semi-detached homes with a side door instead of a front door, and a central staircase rather than running up one of the side walls. Pockets of Victorian houses and villas feature in the Knight’s Park/Fairfield and Grove Crescent region, conservation areas to the south of the town centre. Riverside apartments, or flats, have sprung up over 15 years, including Charter Quay and Royal Quarter. A big draw of these properties for families is the proximity to the North Kingston primary schools, Fern Hill and Latchmere. Young professionals tend towards flats near the river and close to the station.
More and more high-rise properties are being built throughout Kingston, favouring riverside plots. Kingston Riverside is high-end with contemporary flats overlooking the Thames, Kingston Heights is mixed-use combining a hotel, affordable homes and private apartments.
Coombe and Maldens is towards the north-east of town, this neighbourhood incorporates New and Old Malden and Coombe. Liverpool Road and Coombe Wood are a conservation area, protected for either heritage or architecture. Coombe Hill has the biggest price tags, but you’re in the catchment area of The Tiffin Girls’ School, rated ‘Outstanding” by Ofsted.
Just off Coombe Lane West and Kingston Hill, the Coombe area has many of London’s most expensive houses, some of which are large detached houses on big plots of land. Many of the small houses were demolished, with new gated mansions with home theatres, indoor pools or gyms, being built. A six-bedroomed Coombe Ridings property is selling at around £9 million, while a converted stable block with two-bedrooms is going for £835,000. A good option is Queenshurst, built on the former gasworks’ site, with 328 new homes and an on-site cinema, gym and central garden square.
The leafy Albany Park Road has double-fronted detached Edwardian houses, Lower Ham Road has flats and house with river views. The area around Liverpool and Queens Roads, close to Richmond Park, has a mix of small and large Victorian houses with gardens.
For up-and-coming areas, look at any of the roads close to the Kingston Academy, which is on Richmond Road. The area around Eden Walk Shopping Centre has 380 new homes, along with shops and offices.
Kingston is perfect for families and younger folk alike, but it is expensive. Stacks of culture, an abundance of great schools, right on the river banks and plenty of family activities makes this a desirable area of choice.
Norbiton, with its mix of Twenties, Edwardian and Victorian houses, has its own shopping street and is one zone closer to London than Kingston.
Surbiton is predominantly residential and has become a desirable address due to London’s rocketing prices. There are many handsome Edwardian and Victorian properties if you have the budget to match. Surbiton Park and St Matthews Avenue are new hotspots.
Made up of Hook and Hook Rise, Chessington and Tolworth, South of the Borough is made up of more modern properties, dating back to the 1960s. This could be a good place to start if you’re on a more modest budget.
Who Lives and Works in Kingston Upon Thames
Kingston’s population is in the region of 174,000.
In 1208, King John granted Kingston its first royal charter, encouraging growth in all aspects. Malting, candle-making and tanning were important in this vibrant industrial centre. Then, during the 20th century, Kingston was a major military aircraft manufacturing centre and specialised in fighter planes. The Hawker Hurricane was designed here.
These days local industries include manufacturing and light engineering, with tourism playing a big part, along with the food and beverage industry.
Kingston is now a university town, due to the growth of Kingston Polytechnic and its transformation into Kingston University. This attracts students, and their families, to the area.
The Borough employs around 4,000 people, of which 25% are teachers. Around 25% of the total population are professionals, and 70% of residents were born in England.
The Best Bits
Having one of the lowest crime rates in the London area, along with a huge choice of accommodation, proximity to the Thames, along with being voted one of the happiest places to live, Kingston has many other highlights.
- The Ancient Market, open six days a week, has a butcher’s shop that dates back to the 15th century and Webster’s Fishmongers, a stall that has been trading here since 1866. The impressive array of fresh fruit and vegetables, street food, antiques, crafts and artisan bakeries encompasses this quintessential London market. Over the weekends other markets come visiting, including WOW Homemade Craft and Vintage, Simple Silver, the Eden Craft Market and the Vintage and Retro market. There’s something here for everyone.
- The diverse shopping. Along with the market, the Bentall Mall will keep shopaholics happy for days with its vast variety of shops, from designer labels to High Street names.
- The borough has seven libraries, most of which are open on weekdays.
- With two Royal Parks, Kingston is one of London’s greenest areas. Canbury Gardens, the royal Richmond Park, Bushy Park and the Upper Lodge Water Gardens are all popular with families. As is the Kingston Rowing Club, for both rowing and fishing.
- The Prince George Hotel is no longer operational, but the ghost of a young girl called Lily Herchemer walks the hallways and rooms, switching on lights and radios.
- Hampton Court Palace has spectacular grounds, along with the rooms where the ill-fated Anne Boleyn stayed.
- The Kingfisher Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, a gym and cycling facilities.
- White Spider Climbing has climbing walls for all ages.
- Four theatres, including the famous Rose Theatre, which was the first theatre built in the UK in this century.
- To support the strong educational facilities here, there are two museums and one art gallery.
- Dating back to the 13th century, the Clattern Bridge on the High Street is one of England’s oldest bridges. Where it crosses Hogsmill river, it is often seen as a shelter for one of the town’s resident storks.
- Nipper Alley is named after Nipper the dog, who appeared in HMV advertisements. He lived and was buried in Kingston.
- A number of famous people lived here, including David Essex, Eric Clapton, Petula Clark, Joan Armatrading and Julian Clary. Eric Clapton starting his career by busking in Kingston.
- Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn walks the hallways of Hampton Court Palace. Her successor, Jane Seymour’s ghost returns every 12th of October, the date she died in 1537. And Anne Boleyn’s cousin, Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, runs along the gallery.
- During the construction of a department store in the late 1980s, a medieval undercroft and the remains of a 12th-century bridge were unearthed.
- The River Thames, with its footpath along the waterside, is ideal for walking or just admiring the boats and the swans.
Bringing the Kids
The high quality of schools attracts families to the area. With many ‘Outstanding’ schools, the new comprehensive, The Kingston Academy, looks like it is headed in the same direction.
- Of the 35 state primary schools, seven have been voted ‘Outstanding’ including Coombes Hill Junior School and Fern Hill Primary.
- Four infant schools are Ofsted 5-star rated.
- Ten secondary schools are top rated, including The Tiffin Girls School and Richard Challoner School.
- Marymount International School is the only international school in the area. However, there are a number of them in the capital.
- Kingston University is well-known for its architecture, art and design courses.
Relocating to Kingston Upon Thames
The close proximity to London and good transport links, its low crime rate and great accommodation choices make Kingston a good choice for expats. The influx of young professionals is based on the riverside pubs, shopping centres and markets and the lively cultural scene. The two royal parks and other green spaces appeal to families, as do the excellent educational facilities. And, of course, the friendly community is always appealing. The variety of housing, from riverside flats to large detached houses with gardens, may be expensive but there is something to suit everyone.
However, the tricky school catchment programme may be daunting, so using the services of an expert relocation agent will ensure that you find accommodation in the right area for the right school. Help will also be given for lease negotiations, form filling and other legalities.
Average Monthly Rents in Kingston