Whilst many people consider Surrey to be a great county, for anyone moving home, a key question is; where are the best places to live in Surrey?
Whether you are looking for cosmopolitan towns or a quiet, pretty village, Surrey won’t disappoint.
Throw in its areas of outstanding natural beauty, great education options, plus easy commuter links to London (and Gatwick airport close by), it has something for everyone.
Here we suggest 10 of the best places to live in Surrey we think are well worth a look at.
First on our list is Cobham.
This highly sought after location offers a delightful mix of countryside, yet remains well placed for access to facilities.
6 key facts about Cobham:
The average price of a detached home is circa. £1,440,000 as of Autumn 2020 (starting from such a high baseline, though, in the past 12 months, plenty of larger, detached homes have sold well in excess of this average);
Education facilities are in abundance. There are 10 schools for children of primary age in and around the area and 5 secondary schools, a mix of state-run, independent and private schools in Cobham itself, and further education colleges for students 18 and above may be found at nearby Brooklands College and Guildford College. Guildford is also home to the University of Surrey;
What is it good for? Though large, Cobham is a village – rather than a town – in Surrey. In character and appearance, it is a quintessential community of the English Home Counties. In fact, Cobham has grown from a collection of three even smaller, but historic communities – Street Cobham, Church Cobham and Downside. Cobham remains a favourite destination for those enjoying a friendly village atmosphere, independent local shops, and restaurants and pubs scattered liberally around the surrounding area;
Cobham is popular with all age groups and increasingly those ambitious younger families wanting to move away from the confines of the city yet still remain well-connected – central London is only 25 miles away;
Transport: a journey into central London can be made straight up the A3 trunk road, which also connects to London’s circular M25 at junction 10. From the local railway station, Cobham and Stoke d’Abernon, trains to London take 40 minutes. If you drive to the stations at either Surbiton or Esher, the journey will take you just 30 minutes.
Cobham is a favourite among the successful, discrete and security conscious, where more than half its homes are valued at more than £1 million – yet the place still manages to retain a ‘refreshing and down-to-earth charm’ and is often listed amongst the Best Places to Live in the UK.
It is difficult to beat Cobham’s semi-rural, leafy location
Broadband speed: up to 15 Mbps (download) and 1 Mbps (upload) to superfast connections offering up to 80 Mbps (download) and 20 Mbps (upload);
What is it good for? One of Windlesham’s main claims to fame is that it is home to the most expensive single private house to be built in the UK since the 19th Century. Updown Court was built in 1924, has 103 rooms (many featuring some of the earth’s rarest materials), stands in 58 acres of woodland, and in 2005 was valued at £70 million. Windlesham has its own privately-owned arboretum through which there is a public trail and other green open spaces abound within a short distance of the village. There are also a number of activity centres for family days out for those with children;
Great for? Residents of Windlesham take pride in their village community, epitomised by the local organisation, the Windlesham Society. The village attracts its fair share of retirees – and also those looking for semi-rural retreats that are still close to London. Brian May, guitarist for the British rock band, Queen, for instance, lives nearby and also runs an animal rescue in his garden;
Transport: Windlesham is 29 miles (46 km) from central London – a driving time on well-used commuter roads of around 41 minutes. There are a number of options for taking the train into central London – a drive of 1.66 miles (2.67 km) to Bagshot railway station and then a train journey of 1 hour and 9 minutes; drive to Sunningdale station, 1.89 miles (3.04 km) away, followed by a 49-minute train journey; or, drive 2.96 miles (4.76 km) to Ascot railway station and a 56-minute train journey.
Windlesham is part of the so-called “commuter-belt” yet offers a life that is removed from the beaten track of more obvious dormitory towns such as Camberley, Woking or Farnborough.
What is it good for? Leatherhead is a historic town – with architecture to match. No fewer than 80 of its buildings are listed as having special architectural or historic interest. The town is a reasonable size yet still retains a distinct sense of community. It is set in a green and pleasant landscape. Nearby Kingston offers access to the Thames and any number of walks through the leafy Thames Valley. The commanding heights of Box Hill are just 5 miles (8 km) away;
Transport links: Leatherhead is on the mainline rail link to both London Waterloo and Victoria stations – the journeys take less than one hour. The town is on the A24 trunk road, only a 15-minute drive from where it meets London’s circular M25 motorway at Junction 9 – and, from there, the UK’s entire motorway network. Under normal road conditions, the 19-mile (31 km) drive into central London may be expected to take around 35 minutes.
Leatherhead is a small town of around 9,000 residents. It is a historic market town, on the eastern bank of the River Mole, acting as a gateway to the important and beautiful Surrey Hills.
The town’s Bookham Common was mentioned as far back as the early 11th century in the time of King William I, when the historic Domesday Book was written.
Education: two primary schools in East Molesey itself – St Alban’s Catholic Primary School and St Lawrence Church of England Aided Junior School – are rated as “good” by Ofsted. The independent Hampton Court House also takes children through both primary and secondary levels of education and in 2020 was ranked first in the category of “Small Independent Schools” by the Independent Schools Council. Hinchley Wood School, for 11 to 18-year-olds in nearby Esher has been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.
What is it good for? Barely a stone’s throw from historic Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey retains a charm and character of its own. It boasts independent shops and supermarkets close by, a wider selection of shopping, cultural and leisure activities in Kingston-upon-Thames;
Great for: given its strategic location so close to the capital, yet with access to the recreational open spaces of Hampton Court and riverside walks, and highly-rated public and independent schools nearby, East Molesey is a great place for young families. The place also offers a wide range of sporting activities – from local football and rugby clubs to cricket, rowing and athletics;
Education: 6 public and independent primary schools, including the Ofsted-rated “outstanding” Thames Ditton Infant School. For those aged between 16 and 19 Thames Ditton is home to Esher Sixth Form College, which has also received an Ofsted rating of “outstanding”. Otherwise, the nearest secondary schools are in Kingston-upon-Thames, including the renowned, independent (fee-paying) Kingston Grammar School, established in 1561, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I;
What is it good for? Thames Ditton has been described as the perfect suburban village. It snuggles easily into the banks of the River Thames, has a history and period buildings to match, characterful pubs, and high street quietly bustling with independent shops and restaurants. It has that feature essential to any English village – the village green, on which cricket continues to be played during the summer months. Something of a novelty for this community is Thames Ditton Island in the middle of the River Thames, with access via a footbridge only, on which around 50 bungalows and other small homes are built;
Great for: Thames Ditton is great for commuters with a hankering for the semblance of village life and community spirit. From the town’s station, there are half-hourly trains to London Waterloo for an average journey time of just 32 minutes. But if you take the short walk to Esher station, you will find even more frequent services and slightly faster travelling times;
Transport links: Thames Ditton is not only well served by the rail networks but by road too. It is just 5 minutes to the A3 eastbound (towards central London) and 10 minutes to the same trunk road westbound (towards Guildford and the southwest). By road, the M3 (to the south coast) and M25 motorways are just a 15-minute drive away. Roads may become congested when there are horse racing meetings at either Kempton Park or Sandown Park.
Sleepier than its bustling neighbours – Kingston-upon-Thames and Esher – Thames Ditton can retain its distinctive character as a Thames-side village.
Broadband speed: Ofcom report standard download speeds of 15Mbps and upload speeds 1Mbps and Superfast speeds of 80Mbps for downloading and 20Mbps for uploading;
What is it good for? A pretty, quintessential British country town, that has a long history – and was already a thriving marketplace in Anglo-Saxon and Roman times. It was made a Borough by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 and became the first town in England to boast a public electricity supply in 1881. There are five conservation areas in the town and 350 buildings listed for their architectural or historical interest. A pretty and historically interesting town is surrounded by lush countryside stretching beyond its water meadows on the banks of the River Wey;
Great for: thanks to easy and fast rail access to London Godalming has long been a favourite for commuters. In more recent years, it has also become popular with students and staff at the University of Surrey, whose campus is in Guildford just five miles away;
Transport links: London is just 30 miles away, which brings Waterloo station to within just 39 minutes by fast train, though average journey times are 57 minutes – services half-hourly and every 15 minutes during the rush hour. The main A3 Portsmouth to London trunk road bypasses Godalming – and from Guildford to all points to the southwest. At an average speed of 30 mph (48 kph), it takes around one hour and 19 minutes to drive from Godalming to the City of London.
Although close enough to London for commuters, the town and surrounding countryside offer a wealth of hotels and pubs in which visitors may stay overnight before enjoying the heathland and wooded rolling landscape of this part of Surrey.
7. Ripley (Woking)
Ripley is a particularly desirable village near Woking that has a strong sense of community.
For a village it has a good range of amenities and a large village green where many events and sporting activities are carried out year round.
6 points about Ripley:
Average house price for a detached house: £640,000 as of October 2020, though many of the larger houses on the outskirts of the village have far higher price tags.
Broadband speed: Standard connection speeds of up to 4 Mbps (download) and 0.5 Mbps (upload) are available. Superfast connections in this area offer speeds of 80 Mbps (download) and 20 Mbps (upload) and ultrafast is available in certain parts;
Great for: the village describes itself as a “hidden gem”, close to Woking, Guildford, and London, yet set in the beautiful Surrey countryside. The semi-rural nature of village life makes it a great place in which to raise a family and to enjoy the high street’s independent shops, sample the many establishments in which to eat, drink and relax, explore the natural beauty of the area and explore its highways and byways;
Transport links: throughout the 19th century, Ripley was strategically placed along the main London to Portsmouth road, and served as the staging post for postal services throughout the whole area from 1813 to 1865 – an era that came to an end with the arrival of railways and the station at Woking. The London to Portsmouth road is now the A3 and it joins London’s circular M25 motorway after just three and a half miles. Once you travel the short (8-minute) distance to Woking railway station, there are regular train services to London Waterloo with the journey once aboard taking just 30 minutes.
Ripley a tucked-away, semi-rural village, with an iconic Farmers’ Market – but there’s definitely a sense of vibrant life in the community too.
Ripley has had a quirky history – helping it retain its special place in the world today.
The growth of Portsmouth as a naval dockyard during the reign of King Henry VIII ensured that Ripley’s place along the Portsmouth to London road gave it strategic importance from the 1700s onwards.
Just 30 minutes from London on the train, Egham is conveniently located for commuters whilst also offering easy access to Surrey’s many golf clubs, old Windsor Park and Heathrow Airport.
Our knowledge of Egham:
Average house price for a freehold detached home: £786,062 (Autumn 2020) Though this figure is lower than we’d expect, the more exclusive properties in Egham have simply not been brought to market this year though there have been a few sales of properties around the £3m+ mark.
Education: 7 local education authority primary schools and three secondary or sixth-form colleges. Strode’s College is the oldest (dating back to 1706), was once a grammar school, but is now a sixth-form college. The independent Sir William Perkins’s School for girls achieves better examination results. The comprehensive Magna Carta School, for 11-16-year-olds, specialises in technology and ICT. Just to the south of the town of Egham is the Royal Holloway campus of the University of London;
Broadband speed: Standard broadband connection speeds of 10 Mbps (download) and 0.9 Mbps (upload) or superfast connections of 62 Mbps (download) and 16 Mbps (upload), ultrafast speeds of 500 Mbps (download) and 35 Mbps (upload);
What is it good for? Egham can be found on the northern borders of the borough of Runnymeade, one of the most historic sites in England as the place where King John signed and sealed the Magna Carta in 1215 (which established that everyone – even the king – is subject to the law). The National Trust’s Runnymeade Meadow and Ankerwycke parkland offers a wide-open green space with walks along the banks of the River Thames. One of the country’s biggest theme parks – Thorpe Park – is a major attraction just 4 miles (6.5 km) away;
Great for: with central London only half an hour or so away, Egham remains popular with commuters. In more recent years – and thanks to the proximity of the University of London’s Royal Holloway campus – the town has also become a favourite with students;
Transport links: Egham railway station is on the mainline between Reading, Weybridge, and London Waterloo. During rush hour, in particular, therefore, services are plentiful, and the fastest trains make the journey into London in just over half an hour. Egham lies just to the west of the M25 motorway – close to Junction 13 and from there the entire motorway network of the UK.
Light years on from its historic association with Runnymede, Egham today has a bustling high street of local shops but for more in-depth retail therapy you might want to take the 8-minute drive to Staines, where you will find two major shopping precincts, including the Elmsleigh Shopping Centre.
A 14 -minute drive west of Egham will take you to the royal castle of Windsor, its Great Park, and surrounding countryside.
Located between the market towns of Reigate and Dorking, residents of Betchworth can enjoy rural village life with many amenities within easy reach.
Information about living in Betchworth:
Average house price for a four/five-bedroom home: £868,242 in Autumn 2020 (house prices here are buoyant, with the past 12 months seeing a 24% increase on the previous peak of £700,667.
What is it good for? Not at all bad for a village with a small population – Betchworth has its own castle. Admittedly the castle now lies in ruins, but these make for an especially peaceful and tranquil setting on the west bank of the River Mole. There are hiking and cycling trails aplenty across the undulating hills of the surrounding North Downs;
Great for: Betchworth is a pretty village and civil parish nestled in the Mole Valley of the North Downs. Thanks to its proximity to London, it has long been one of the Home Counties’ popular commuter towns. It enjoys a rural location midway between the larger towns of Dorking (3 miles/4.8 km to the west) and Reigate (3 miles/4.8 km to the east). Despite those connections – or perhaps because of them – Betchworth also has a larger than average proportion of retirees – 357 of its 604 population (59%) are over the age of 50;
Transport links: Betchworth is served by the North Downs Line – the railway which runs between Reading and Gatwick Airport. Making a change at Redhill station it is possible to reach London Bridge within an hour. By road, the 25-mile journey into central London typically takes around one hour.
Broadband speed: Speeds of 9 Mbps (download) and 1 Mbps (upload) and superfast connections at 80 Mbps (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). In some parts of Camberley, ultrafast connections – offering speeds of 500 Mbps (download) and 35 Mbps (upload) may also be available;
Great for: Camberley has been tipped as one of the best places to buy a home in 2020. For commuters with children, there are some top-rated schools nearby, the surroundings are pleasantly leafy and – relative to the rest of Surrey – house prices might be considered affordable;
Transport links: the fastest commute to London Waterloo is via the mainline station at Farnborough (5 miles/8 km) where there are hourly departures for a journey that takes just 52 minutes. Trains from Camberley direct to London Waterloo are relatively infrequent and take an average of 1 hour and 8 minutes. Driving the 31 miles (50 km) route into London by road typically takes around 44 minutes. Camberley is just five miles (8 km) from Farnborough’s junction with the M3 motorway – to London and all points south and southwest.
Camberley is a relatively new town – compared to many others across Surrey and the Surrey Heath. Probably once seen as a town largely dominated by the military – thanks to the presence of the military academy at Sandhurst – Camberley has enjoyed robust new growth, rising local employment (in competition with the established commuter routes), and the redevelopment of its town centre.