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Living in Tonbridge

While researching areas to move to, we’ve found little reviews of towns found on the internet were vital – especially when we started looking in Wiltshire and Somerset – places we hardly knew at all. So, now that we are leaving it, here’s my thoughts on Tonbridge; having lived here for 30 years, I feel qualified enough to tell you!

If you’re new to the area, you’re probably coming here for the excellent train link to London; and if you’re not – be warned that prices reflect this. I really like Tonbridge, and I would certainly recommend it as a place to live. You’re nearly always only a 10 minute walk to a park with a kids play area; there’s a great indoor/outdoor pool; The Angel Centre has a modern gym and good sports facilities (my kids practically grew up there (as did I)); plenty of clubs for kids; good schools/college/university centre; the High Street has improved a lot in the last few years, and is fine for most things, though Bluewater and Tunbridge Wells are near enough for other needs (we’re talking clothes here). There are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants and a nightclub. It’s generally clean and although it’s a large-ish town, you can certainly feel part of a community and people seem to respect that. A good example is dog mess. You just don’t tread in it in Tonbridge – on the whole, dog owners pick it up. I only appreciated this when I walked round a very nice park by a lake in Snodland recently and despite being dog bins every 100 metres or so; every two metres, there was dog mess on the path. I was quite shocked. (Incidentally, I wouldn’t recommend living in Snodland!)

Residentially speaking, Tonbridge is a funny place, in that I would say it’s a mix of council houses and wealthy houses, and not much in-between. (We actually have compromised and bought a private house with a shared ownership scheme in a council estate). There are a lot of council estates – maybe as much as a third of Tonbridge – and a lot of very nice private estates; but you’d need 2 very good wages to afford one. A three bed (if you’re lucky 4) semi costs around £320,000. A detached house with 3 beds and a 4th on the ground floor, with a study and big garden in the North end just went on at £450,000. With prices dropping though, these may become more affordable.

North Tonbridge is considered a bit posher than south, and mainly divides into 4 areas:Willow Lea; Cage Green; Higham Wood and Trench Road. You cannot go wrong with Higham Wood (Higham Lane and the surrounding roads); everywhere is lovely. I lived there for the fist 16 years of my life and loved it. Willow Lea (and the roads around it) is also a very desirable area. Cage Green; the same applies really. I lived in St Pauls Close for a couple of years. There are a few private houses on this council estate and never had any cause to complain. Though there is a thing about council estates where people feel they have the right to know everyone’s business and get straight on the phone the minute your car tax runs out. Trench Road area is mainly council and apparently has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Tonbridge and Malling District. You get a bit of kids and teenagers hanging around, but honestly it’s not that bad.
Going towards central Tonbridge you have the Ridgeway and Yardley Park and those are most definitely the poshest places to live. I don’t know too much about the Slade area, and as there’s a new development, I don’t know what the future holds for that area. At the moment it’s desirable due to the good primary school.
Behind the station the houses go back a long way. Again, I don’t know so much about this area, but I know it hasn’t got such a good reputation; I think there’s more unsociable crime – graffiti, litter etc. Just beyond the college, there’s a large council estate before the private Molescroft Way estate. I’ve lived at Chaucer Gardens for the last 7 years and it’s very nice here. Loads of green spaces for the kids to play around in; it’s safe; very little crime; friendly atmosphere – people smile and say Hi and I’ve got no complaints about living here. There are a lot of little boys that play football on the nearby Green though; and I do wonder what will happen when they all become teenagers! Molescroft way is very nice, but you have to put up with the noise from the A21.
The area around Hillview school; Hectorage Road etc, is a mix of council and private, but does not have a particularly good reputation. It’s all relative. You’ll have no complaints coming from any rough city area.
The roads coming off Pembury Road leading up the hill are all private and it seems like a nice quiet place. It’s never easy to park though, so bare that in mind if you’re buying there.

The villages surrounding Tonbridge are mostly very nice. Hadlow and Hildenborough are at opposite ends of the scale, with Hildenborough being at the top end. Prices have recently gone up due to a couple of footballers moving there. (It’s also on the London rail line). Hadlow in the past has had problems with bored teenagers and crime, but it’s getting better. There are good areas and bad to Southborough, but I’m afraid I can’t point you in the right direction there. Bidborough is very high class, and I think Pembury is fine, but I’m not certain on that one; and Rusthall is not a place I’d like to live. It’s funny how there’s a mixture as you go towards Tunbridge Wells. I think you’re pretty safe going towards Sevenoaks. Weald village is very desirable.

So there you have it. I don’t think I could be more detailed than that. I’ll tell you my knowledge on local schools in another post soon.

Haysden country park

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0013 comments

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13 Comments

Maura

What a great website and just what I was looking for. I have tried to find something like this in several areas we are considering for our next move and got nothing like it. There is knowhere.co.uk but that can make dire reading – mostly kids leave crude messages on it.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to give such great detail and I hope you found somewhere beautiful to live.

Reply

G. Orgis

Thankyou for putting the thought and effort into providing such a valuable insight into an area. I am looking for a house and do not know this area at all.

Many Thanks again.

Reply

C Hart

Thank you so much for this brilliant and insightful post. It’s really helped us as we are looking into moving to the area and you have given us information we would never have been able to find out otherwise. Hope you are happy in Somerset.

Reply

teresa

Just want to thank you for taking the time to write this. I am having trouble finding out local info on good and bad bits of Tonbridge as looking to move there next year, mainly for the lnks into London but also to get out of South London.
Thanks again

Reply

Tracy

Excellent read, told me all I wanted to know and so great someone takes the time to write this. Thank you very very much.

Reply

Joe J

Thanks for this writeup.

I was in Tonbridge for a short time, during the late 1990s. But, I think about it a lot and wonder how it has continued since I remember it.

Cheers –
– jj

Reply

CB

A recent evening standard article stated the best roads as dryhill park, yardley park, the drive and a few others I can’t remember. I would add to that list Lyons crescent and portman park. Moved to Tonbridge a year ago and think it’s a great town and definitely up and coming, with lovely new independent restaurants, coffee shop and butcher.

Reply

Jas

hi there,
What do you think about garden road, mill lane and Kendal drive area? Any council estates nearby?

Reply

Helen

I think that’s a very nice well-to-do area with no council estates. I think there’s a lot of new development there for commuter flats, but please bare in mind it’s now 8 years since we moved away, so don’t rely on me! So if you’re looking there at a house with a nice view; check planning for new buildings. Also check flood risk as you’re quite close to the river; and road noise from the by-pass. Your catchment primary school is probably Slade, which is excellent. Hope that helps!

Reply

Tomek

Hi, thanks for the great article! I have a bit of sensitive question though. How do you find the climate towards immigrants after the brexit in Tonbridge? To be more exact – Polish? Im thinking to buy a house in UK and Tonbridge seems to me like a perfect choice. But I dunno much on people’s attitude towards Polish folks there. I’d apprieciate honest reply, as any anti-polish incident would force me to sell the house.

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Helen

Hi Tomek, This blog post is ten years old now, and I haven’t lived in Tonbridge since then, so I’m sorry, I can’t be of accurate help any more. I do visit family in Tonbridge fairly regularly and it doesn’t seem to have changed that much generally; so on that basis, I think the town is a fairly safe bet for you to move to. It’s a quiet, gentle sort of place, particularly in the nice areas I mentioned such as Higham Wood and Willow Lea. If you do come across anyone anti-immigration, the most you’ll get is a funny look in the waiting room at the doctor’s – it’s very unlikely you’d need to sell your house!
Hope that’s helped a bit!

Reply

Tomek

Hi Helen! Thank you for your help! That’s the same vibe I’m getting from TNB, I guess it should be fine.
Sorry for late reply, I didn’t get notification on you comment to my mailbox.

Reply

Helen

I was actually in Tonbridge yesterday and I mentioned your query to her, and she thought you’d be fine. She also said there are signs up in the Christchurch, which is the church at the end of the High Street for Polish get-togethers, so I think that’s a good sign!
Helen

Reply

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