Moving From London to Gravesham: The Pros and Cons

Moving From London to Gravesham: The Pros and Cons

Gravesham is a borough in northwest Kent, along the south bank of the River Thames. With excellent transport links to London and green spaces like Shorne Woods Country Park, Gravesham offers a mix of urban convenience and natural beauty. If you’re considering moving to Gravesham, here are some of the key factors to consider.

An Overview of Gravesham

Gravesham comprises the towns of Gravesend, Northfleet, Meopham, and several smaller villages. Gravesend is the main urban centre, with a population of over 100,000. Northfleet, to the west of Gravesend, is more suburban and industrial. Meopham, to the south, is a village surrounded by farmland and woods.

Gravesham has a long history dating back to pre-Roman times. It was an important port in the 18th and 19th centuries, with passenger ferries across the Thames. Although industry and shipping have declined, the area still has strong transport links. The A2 trunk road and High Speed 1 rail line pass through, with Ebbsfleet International train station providing services to London St Pancras in just 17 minutes.

The borough has a mix of leafy suburban neighbourhoods, industrial zones along the river, and rural villages. House prices are generally lower than in other parts of Kent, but there are some more affluent pockets. Education standards are improving, with several “Good” Ofsted-rated secondary schools.

So what is life like in Gravesham? Here are some of the key pros and cons of moving to this historic Thames-side borough.

The Pros of Living in Gravesham

Convenient location: Excellent road and rail links make commuting into London a breeze from Gravesham. Fast trains into the capital and proximity to the M25 and M20 motorways appeal to commuters.

Affordable housing: Property in Gravesham is more affordable than many other parts of Kent and South East England. First-time buyers may find they can get more for their money compared to neighbouring areas like Dartford.

Access to nature: Despite being a predominantly urban borough, Gravesham enjoys close access to beautiful countryside spots. Shorne Woods Country Park offers 363 acres of woodland, meadows and hiking trails along with a Go Ape high ropes course. The North Downs Way national walking trail passes through the area as well.

Good mix of urban and rural living: From the historic streets of Gravesend town centre to the rolling fields near Meopham, Gravesham provides the best of town and country. Residents can enjoy suburban conveniences alongside scenic rural vistas.

Improving schools: Educational standards are rising across Gravesham’s primary and secondary schools, providing more choice for families moving to the area. St John’s Catholic Comprehensive and Northfleet School for Girls are two of the borough’s standout secondary institutions.

Shopping and leisure: Bluewater Shopping Centre, one of the UK’s largest malls, is only 10 minutes from Gravesend. There are also traditional high streets in Gravesend and Northfleet with independent cafes, pubs and shops to explore. Riverside leisure options abound, like Bowaters Sports Centre and promenade walks along the Thames.

Transport links: Fast trains from Gravesend and Ebbsfleet make central London just 17 minutes away by rail. The A2/M2 motorway puts the M25 London Orbital within easy reach. Regular bus routes serve Gravesend and other Gravesham towns as well. The international ports and Channel Tunnel at Dover are only an hour’s drive away too.

Local history and heritage: Tracing its origins to pre-Roman times, Gravesham has a rich history. Local attractions include the medieval Gravesend Clock Tower, St George’s Church where Pocahontas was buried, and Royal Terrace Pier on the Thames waterfront. The area has links to Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth I and generations of river pilots.

The Cons of Living in Gravesham

Whilst Gravesham has a lot going for it, there are some downsides to consider as well:

Industry: The industrial areas along the Thames, including the gas and oil jetties, power stations and cement works, mean parts of the borough can be unattractive. Areas like Northfleet have a rather gritty, urban feel in places. Air and noise pollution are concerns too.

Deprived areas: Although house prices are reasonable overall, some neighbourhoods suffer from higher rates of unemployment and poverty. Parts of Gravesend town centre have issues with crime and antisocial behaviour that detract from quality of life.

Congestion: The excellent transport links also have a downside, with heavy traffic congestion at peak times. Certain roads like the A2 through Gravesend are prone to gridlock during rush hour.

Fewer countryside amenities: Whilst Gravesham has beautiful countryside spots on its doorstep, these are limited compared to other parts of Kent. Other than Shorne Woods Country Park there are fewer visitor attractions compared to the wealth of castles, vineyards and gardens across Kent.

Variable education standards: Although improving, educational achievement and Ofsted ratings are still too uneven across Gravesham’s schools. Parents have fewer outstanding schools to choose from compared to other parts of Kent.

Limited shopping and food scene: For a borough of over 100,000 people, Gravesend town centre has a limited mix of shops, restaurants and leisure options. Many residents commute into London for more variety. Bluewater Shopping Centre outshines Gravesend’s own tired high street.

Flooding: Parts of Gravesham are vulnerable to flooding being located on the Thames riverside. The Environment Agency has needed to bolster flood defences to protect towns like Gravesend. Home insurance costs may be higher in flood risk areas.

Ongoing regeneration: Whilst positive changes are happening, parts of Gravesham are still undergoing regeneration and renewal. It may take time for improvements to housing, business and amenities to reach their full potential. Communities remain fragmented in places.

Is Gravesham a Good Place to Live?

Gravesham has experienced a period of decline but is actively trying to improve living standards across the borough. Major investments in transport, housing, leisure facilities, the riverside, schools and public services aim to make the area more desirable.

The borough suits those who value Gravesham’s location and transport links over other factors. First-time buyers can find affordable homes to get onto the property ladder, whilst the excellent rail connections appeal to commuters. The mix of urban, suburban and rural neighbourhoods offers varied lifestyle options.

However, Gravesham may not appeal to buyers looking for outstanding schools, swathes of unspoilt countryside or a thriving gastronomy and arts scene. Parts of the borough remain run-down or isolated from regeneration benefits. Heavy industry along the river blights some neighbourhoods.

On balance, Gravesham provides very good value for money and has real potential as it continues to develop. For the right buyers who value convenience, affordability and accessibility, Gravesham can be an excellent choice.

Moving to Gravesham: Your Next Steps

If you’re interested in relocating to Gravesham, you’ll need to research different areas and property options to find your ideal match.

Buying a shared ownership property in Gravesham is one affordable route onto the ladder if you’re eligible. There are also homes to rent or buy outright across Gravesham to suit different budgets and lifestyles.

Be sure to visit at different times and days to get a feel for potential neighbourhoods and assess factors like traffic, noise, parking and amenities. Check Ofsted reports for local schools if you have children. Consider whether you prioritise being close to Gravesend town centre or prefer a quieter suburban or rural setting.

Setting up viewings with local estate agents is key to seeing what’s really available in your price range. Pay attention to transport links for your commute and local high streets and green spaces to find the right lifestyle fit.

With excellent value property, transport connections and some attractive neighbourhoods, Gravesham could be the perfect next destination if you’re looking to relocate from London or within Kent itself. Do your research to find the right Gravesham address to call home.