Suburban myths: why out-of-town living is taking on a whole new look


Location, location, location is still the driving force for moving house in 2022. But at Strutt & Parker, our latest research found that home buyers are now looking for more. This year, for the first time, we saw access to outdoor space (77%), a quieter location (67%) and, interestingly, mobile phone connectivity indoors (65%) place in the top ten reasons for upping sticks. Meanwhile being close to work was a motivator for just 45%. With the rise of hybrid working, more and more people are seeing the suburbs as a place to really live – instead of just an easy commute.

With good schools, vibrant high streets and community spirit, we explore five of the UK’s brightest suburban stars.

“Hove, actually…”

Average detached house price: £1,500,000 to £3,000,000

“Hove, actually”… The common retort from residents when asked if they live in neighbouring Brighton. No longer the under-the-radar sister resort, Hove has an identity all of its own. Laid-back with an independent spirit, its food scene includes an acclaimed restaurant from MasterChef winner Steven Edwards, whilst the town’s long stretch of shingle beach is ideal for everything from pebble-skimming to paddle boarding.

Away from the seafront, 40-acre Hove Park is one of the most desirable neighbourhoods for homebuyers. Popular with families thanks to its huge green spaces, this is the place to picture yourself dog walking, Park Running and playing football or tennis. Woodland Drive has all this on its doorstep - not to mention St Christopher’s Independent Prep School just a short stroll away, for a stress-free school run. “This tree-lined street is known for its charming Tudor-style detached properties, and many of these have been comprehensively remodelled, making them perfect for modern family life,” says Gary Marples, Associate Director at Strutt & Parker Lewes.

Good Morningside, Edinburgh

Average house price: £500,000

A place that’s rising and shining, Morningside really does live up to its name. Attractive and affluent, former Victorian tenements have been transformed into characterful flats in leafy neighbourhoods. Meanwhile café culture is big here – highlights include La’Telve and Söderberg.

Morningside is also a suburb that dances to its own tune. Expect to shop in quirky vintage stores or independent boutiques, and to pick up a takeaway coffee served from a converted Dr Who police box.

“Typically, buyers who are property hunting here are very specific on location – they won’t be looking elsewhere,” explains David Law, Head of our Edinburgh residential agency. “That’s mainly down to the great schools, and the large Georgian and Victorian villas that are made for families.”

Families also have plenty of green parkland to play with, including the nearby Bruntsfield Links and Meadows, and the expansive Hermitage and Braid Hills. Some of Edinburgh’s most highly rated public and private schools are on the doorstep too, such as George Watson’s College, Boroughmuir High and James Gillespie’s High.

Summertown, and the living is easy

Average flat: £500,000

It’s easy to see why Summertown is such a coveted address. Bridging the gap between cosmopolitan and suburban living, it has a village-like feel. This part of Oxford is sandwiched between Cherwell River and the Oxford Canal, making it ideal for budding rowers or for a spot of weekend punting, with lunch at the Cherwell Boathouse afterwards.

Summertown is also one of the most competitive catchment areas in Oxford. Well regarded schools include St. Philip and St James’ Primary School, The Dragon, The Cherwell School, Summer Fields and St. Edward’s.

All this means that property demand often outstrips supply. As Helen Whitfield, Director at Strutt & Parker Oxford explains: “Housing stock across Oxford is very limited, which has sparked a frenzy of competitive bidding. The top of the market is achieving on average £1,200 per square foot – and one townhouse went under offer at nearly 20% above the price offered for it the previous year. Being on the ball is key. Get to know your local estate agent so you’re top of the list for upcoming viewings.”

The three sides to the ‘Silver Triangle’

Average terraced house price: £240,000

Within strolling distance of the city yet a world away, the ‘Silver Triangle’ is Norwich’s trend-setting postcode. Often called ‘Norwich over the water’ or NR3 for short, this suburb is known for three main things: period properties, indie cafés and pubs with locally brewed beers on tap.

In fact, locals often refer to the walk between this ‘burb and the city centre as ‘beer mile’, thanks to the award-winning pubs which line the mile-long route. The energy of England's first ever UNESCO City of Literature spills over into this part of the city too, creating a real buzz. There’s also plenty of breathing space, thanks to Mousehold Heath – a beautiful 184-acre stretch of woodland and heath that happens to have some of the best views in Norwich. It’s a prime spot for fireworks night.

If you’re a first-time buyer, NR3 is worth considering. Here, character-packed Victorian terraces tend to attract those looking to take their first step on the housing ladder, lending a youthful feel to this suburb. As Ian Burnaby-Parsons, Senior Associate Director at our Norwich office explains: “NR3’s increasing desirability is being reflected in the house prices. There’s lots going on here and it’s an area which is seeing continuous change with new businesses popping up all over. Popular haunts include Junkyard food market and the Artichoke Pub.”

Keeping up with the ‘Shelfords’ in Cambridge

Average detached house: £1,000,000 in Great Shelford, £780,000 in Little Shelford
Average semi-detached house: £500,000 in Great Shelford, £565,000 in Little Shelford

‘The Shelfords’ is made up of Great and Little Shelford – two picturesque villages just a short cycle from the centre of Cambridge. Celebrated as a Best Place to Live in the UK by The Sunday Times in 2020, Great and Little Shelford both offer a quintessential village lifestyle: think thatched cottages, village greens and pretty churches. Summer could see you canoeing the river, cycling country lanes, and joining neighbours in admiring your blossoming gardens. Gog Magog Hills and Wandlebury Country Park are also on the doorstep for weekend walks.

Aspiring writers can follow in the footsteps of Tom’s Midnight Garden author Philippa Pearce, who lived and set her work in Great Shelford. Though living in Kings Mill House, which inspired the story, would set you back upwards of £5million.

Properties in The Shelfords are unique, ranging from homes dating back 200 years, to extended bungalows. “There’s a real community spirit here which appeals to both young families and mature couples. The active community website promotes everything going on in the area, including the annual Shelford Feast, gardening and fun run clubs, and local news,” says Lawrence Brown, Director at Strutt & Parker Cambridge.

Looking to move? Take a look at our latest properties: Properties For Sale And To Rent

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