Living in Kingston upon Thames: What to expect from the Riverside Borough
Kingston upon Thames, known locally as Kingston, is one of the 33 boroughs that make up Greater London. Located in southwest London, it is the oldest of the four royal boroughs of London. The others include Greenwich, Kensington and Chelsea.
You may be considering moving to Kingston upon Thames. Whether it be for a new job opportunity, as a university student, as a young family or because you want to escape the hustle and bustle of central London city life. Whatever the reason, read on for our insider information on Kingston upon Thames to see if it’s the right place for you.
Areas of Kingston | Geographical Location
Situated on the River Thames, Kingston upon Thames is 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Charing Cross. It includes Surbiton, Chessington, Malden Rushett, New Malden and Tolworth.
With the River Thames stretching along the western side of the borough and Richmond Park to the north, Kingston is a picturesque borough with a lot to offer to families, young professionals and retirees. If you’re considering a move to this south western borough, read on for what to expect in terms of demographics, cost of living, work and education opportunities, transportation, and things to do and see.
With the smallest population after the City of London, Kingston’s 2020 population is now estimated at 176,313. Below you will find an approximate breakdown of each demographic.
- 22% are children/young people (0 to 17 years old)
- 64.2% are people of working age (18 to 64 years old)
- 13.8% are aged 65 or over.
Recently, Kingston has become highly desirable to families and retirees seeking property without the high prices of neighbouring Twickenham, Wimbledon, and Richmond. This unique borough is also home to both Kingston College and Kingston University which, of course, is a draw for students.
The result is a wonderful mix of families, students, young professionals and retirees.
Cost of Living
Kingston is a very sought after borough by those who want to live in London, but in a more rural setting.
The cost of living here can be a little lower than some of the more central boroughs, with the average rental cost for a one bedroom flat being around £1,200. The average purchase price is £721,142 (be sure to check for updated rates on your local listing site).
Reasonably priced living isn’t the only thing that you can find in Kingston. The Coombe area off Kingston Hill and Coombe Lane West has some of London’s most expensive homes. The average cost of these beautiful homes is £2,000,000.
Whether you are looking to share a flat, rent a property or buy your dream home, Kingston upon Thames has something for everyone.
With a great selection of Ofsted ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools, it’s no wonder that Kingston is a desirable borough for families with children.
The area has 35 primary schools including community schools, academies, foundation schools, and voluntary aided schools. Kingston is home to one of England’s oldest schools, Kingston Grammar School, with a history dating back to 1561. Other options include Tiffin School for boys and Tiffin Girls’ School.
Kingston College is a popular option for further education, and Kingston University, which runs several postgraduate and part time courses, is renowned for its art, design and architecture courses.
Kingston has almost unlimited opportunities in most professional trades. Due to its popularity as a tourist destination and shopping hub, there are a lot of jobs available in the service industry.
As with every part of London, Kingston upon Thames is experiencing constant growth. Tech companies are one of the major employers throughout London and Kingston upon Thames, with its lower rental costs and excellent transit links, is sure to be another new hub for tech start-ups in the future.
Not only that, Kingston University has seen itself consistently in the top 20 UK universities for Art and Design, a rating which should encourage businesses focused around cutting edge design to draw on local talent in the future.
While no underground links run through the area, the borough is well-served by rail connections. There are many stations nearby, almost all of which are on the South West Trains route, and direct trains to London Waterloo take around 30 minutes. The closest Underground stations can be found in nearby Morden, Wimbledon or Richmond. Kingston is on the A3 and offers easy access to the M3 and the M25.
Being on the River Thames also has its perks, and you can also make use of riverboat services. Running to Hampton Court, Richmond and Putney at various times throughout the year, river buses provide an excellent travel alternative. In summer there are peak time services between Kingston and several London stations, including London Bridge and Canary Wharf.
Leisure and Culture
Kingston feels like a town away from the city, with Wimbledon in the South, the Thames to the West, and Barnes to the North. It’s easy to understand why so many people love this area, because it’s brimming with theatres, cinemas, restaurants, and parks.
With over 300 stores and bustling markets, Kingston upon Thames is the largest shopping district in Surrey.
For an outer London borough, Kingston boasts an excellent selection of shopping spots, particularly in the area surrounding Kingston station. High Street and Eden Walk are filled with big brand names, while Bentall Shopping centre offers 600,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.
Food & Drink
Kingston has many pubs and restaurants and several public houses in the centre have been converted into restaurants or bars. The more traditional pubs tend to be in the northern part of the town (Canbury). These include Canbury Arms, Park Tavern, The Wych Elm and Willoughby Arms. Further south you can find the famous 16th century Druid’s Head, Spring Grove, The Cricketers, The Albion Tavern, and The Duke of Buckingham.
Along the riverside promenade is a string of restaurants and bars. All include outdoor seating in a stunning setting overlooking the Thames.
The Rotunda Centre includes restaurants, a bowling alley, fitness centre, and a 15-screen Odeon multiplex cinema.
The Ancient Market Place (Ancient Market Place – Shopping Centre – visitlondon.com) surrounds the 12th century All Saints Church. Open daily, you can find almost anything there including fish and produce, jewellery, exotic foods, local foods and flowers.
Tucked away off the Ancient Market Place is Apple Market where you’ll find a mix of independent cafes and eateries spilling out into a small piazza.
Surbiton Farmer’s Market has 26 stalls to choose from and is open on the third Saturday of each month. You can access their calendar here: Dates – surbitonfarmersmarket.
Kingston’s Monday Market trades from 9am – 2pm every Monday in the Cattle Market surface car park. The market offers great deals on clothing and fabric, books and cards, household goods, and fruit and vegetables.
Kingston is in the centre of some of the largest parks in London, including Richmond Park, Wimbledon Park, Kew Gardens, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Park.
Kingston’s main open space is the River Thames. Here you can get involved in a variety of water sports including trout fishing, boating and rowing. Adjoining the River Thames, the smaller Hogsmill River passes through the town of Kingston. Riverside Walk offers amazing views of the Thames, Kingston Bridge, and offers countless restaurants and bars to choose from. For more information you can visit the official website here: Home – Riverside Walk Kingston.
For nature lovers, Berrylands Nature Reserve and Claremont Gardens can be found here. Canbury Gardens covers almost 15 acres of land, perfect for strolling or having a picnic. For a list of all this beautiful garden has to offer you can visit Canbury Gardens – Canbury And Riverside Association (CARA) (carakingston.org).
Culture & Arts
Kingston is away from the hustle and bustle of central London. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking in culture. Below are some of it’s unique, cultural charms.
One of the more unusual sights in Kingston is by David Mach. It’s a sculpture in the form of twelve red telephone booths that have been tipped over to resemble dominoes.
The Rose Theatre is the largest producing theatre in southwest London. It is modelled on the original Elizabethan Rose Theatre in London’s centre. You can check out upcoming shows and events here: What’s On | Rose Theatre, Kingston, London
The Kingston Museum and Heritage Service offers a historical overview of Kingston upon Thames complete with children’s activities.
There you have it. Kingston upon Thames is suited for students, families, young professionals and retirees alike. It provides the perfect base to explore London and the surrounding area; a peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
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