The villages beside the River Thames feature in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the UK 2020
Two Berkshire villages have been named among the best places to live in the country.
No towns in the county make the list but two riverside villages feature in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the UK 2020.
Caversham and Hurley landed spots in the top 15 places to live in the South East based on a range of criteria, including transport links, broadband speed, quality of schools, air quality and the average homes.
Caversham was lauded for its family friendly feel, unlike its neighbour to the south.
The profile on Caversham says: “Get the arithmetic right in Reading and you might just be able to afford to live in this riverside enclave, which bucks the ‘concrete jungle’ image.”
The Sunday Times was particularly damning in its estimation of Reading, Berkshire.
Asked why Caversham is loved, it says because “it defies what everyone expects when you say: ‘We live in Reading.'”
It continues: “If you think Reading suffers from a glut of uninspiring modern architecture, commuters and office-based employers, you might be right.
“Walk north for half an hour, however, and you’ll arrive in much more family-friendly Caversham. Although not devoid of new homes, this higher-end suburb compensates with independent shops, green spaces and spectacular bridges that link it to the main town.”
However, there is a caveat to that: a) there is no Third Thames Bridge, something people both sides of the river have been demanding for decades and b) traffic heading to the bridges is chronic, so much so that writer advises walking to and from Reading.
Caversham also gained desirability points for its ‘excellent’ superfast internet speeds and primary schools with ‘outstanding’ Ofsted reports.
Caversham, The Heights and Emmer Green primaries all got a mention.
However, the traffic clogged roads not only mean slow journey times, it also means nitrogen dioxide levels are above legal limits.
As for house prices, the average home costs £400,000, with the average rent costing £1,100 per month.
Those who have millions to spend on a mortgage are pointed towards The Warren, with its large five bedroom family homes that cost £2 million or more.
Caversham Heights also gets a mention for high quality and very expensive homes.
The authors were gushing in their praise for the village on the south bank of the River Thames.
The profile on Hurley states: “Gorgeous-on-Thames is how we like to think of this medieval village in the primest cut of the home counties. With its ancient priory, delightful old houses and immaculate setting, there can’t be many more appealing places to watch the river go by.
“This is one of the most fascinating stretches of Old Father T, who splits into several channels to get around Hurley Island.”
The Sunday Times admits there isn’t a great deal of things to do in Hurley, but praise is heaped on the village’s two pubs.
The profile states: “The two pubs could hardly be more different: the Olde Bell is as much an upmarket wedding venue as it is a local, with food to the fore, though you’ll get equally good service whether you’re having roast pheasant (£18) or a roast beef sandwich (£7). A few doors away, the Rising Sun is the place for a Thursday-night Thai curry, a hard-fought Tuesday quiz and monthly village coffee mornings.”
Like most villages in the country, you will need a car to travel into Marlow or Maidenhead.
The M4 at Maidenhead and the M40 at High Wycombe both take 15 minutes to get to on a good day, and serve as an essential part of the daily commute for people in the village.
As for services in Hurley, there is the village hall, which hosts yoga and pilates classes, the village shop and Vik’s Barbershop.
The average house costs £525,000, or if you rent, you will need to pay around £1,250 each month.
For those looking for something more expensive, the bigger High Street homes are priced as £2.8 million, with riverside homes costing slightly more.
In comparison to Caversham, internet speeds are slower.
As for schools, Danesfield School in Marlow and Knowl Hill CofE in Knowl Hill were both rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2017.
Best of the rest nearby
Wallingford was praised for its great community spirit and packed social calendar, which includes a vintage car rally, a blues and beer festival, a regatta, pancake races, summer carnival, and swan-upping.
Meanwhile, Farnham was praised a great place for London-leavers in search for bigger homes, open spaces and better schools, and Guildford is lauded for its classy living and great range of town centre shops.
Overall, The Sunday Times and Habito named St Albans in Hertfordshire as the best place to live in the South East, and Altrincham in Greater Manchester was named the best place to live in the UK.
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