When we first decided to move to Brighton I thought we'd pretty much be able to buy the Royal Pavillion for the price of a two bed flat in East Dulwich. I had big plans to sell our little two-up two-down terrace in a ropey part of south London and buy a gorgeous four bed Victorian villa overlooking Queens Park. Sadly, that was not quite the case. Not unless I sold a kidney. And a child. However, there are still bargains to buy in good areas. You just have to be patient and more importantly, open-minded.
So here's my take on some of the good areas to live in Brighton...
Hanover: 10-15 minute walk to the station. A cluster of roads bursting with cool, affordable but quite small houses with virtually no gardens. This is generally the next step up the ladder from a flat in Kemp Town. Lots of young families and arty types live around here which means it has a great community spirit. Plus it has loads (and I mean literally one on every corner) of good, family-friendly pubs.
Just back from Hanover is the Elm Grove area (where I live). There's a bloody great big hill leading up to the race course and off it is a series of nice roads including Brading, Bernard and Bonchurch filled with 3-4 bed houses and a smattering of flats. The gardens are still small, but The Patch, a small park nestled behind these roads is a handy addition to the area. Elm Grove primary school is pretty good and there are a couple of decent pubs, namely my local, The Hartington (which has San Miguel on draft and a does a cracking Sunday roast).
The town and seafront are easily walkable in about 15-20mins, which with Brighton parking is a definite plus to this area.
Beyond Elm Grove is the Hartington Road area. A great road which stretches from the Lewes Road up to the top of Elm Grove. This road is blessed with even bigger houses than Elm Grove with the gorgeous cream & red brick Victorian ones being the most desirable. The gardens are a decent size and back on to the cemetery.
Head the other side of Hartington and you're moving into studentsville. Bear Road and Coombe Road are the big boys here and the prices and facilities certainly reflect that. Also, the catchment area for Dorothy Stringer and Varndean gets a little hazy.
The other side of the Lewes Road is Hollingdean, which is cheaper and you get more for your money plus it's close to the des res area of Fiveways. If you're looking for secondary schools you need to check out the catchment area as it starts to waiver around this postcode. Hollingdean has some nice streets, Hollingbury Park and Hollingbury Road are probably the nicest, but Stanmer Park Road and Stanmer Villas have some reasonably priced 3/4 bed houses with a half decent garden. This area is certainly improving as it neighbours Fiveways, which has always been very desirable (and incidently quite pricey).
Queens Park is a lovely area. Good schools, great views down to the sea and a rash of fancy pants houses (check out the West Drive piles). The park itself is great and very popular with families. It's also a swift 10 minute walk to the beach from here, although it is a little further to the station. Still there are some great properties to be had if you made the bucks in London. The schools are good. I can vouch for St Luke's Primary, it has an outstanding OFSTED report and a no-school uniform policy (which is very popular in my house). Further down the hill is Queens Park school, which is also very good.
From here we're heading into Kemp Town territory. Great facilities, nice little flats and the odd decent sized house. A hop and a skip from the seafront, it has tonnes of good pubs, restaurants and some lovely little independent shops. To the left (away from town) is Kemp Town village, with quirky antique shops and delis not to mention the fabulous Ginger Dog pub. To the right is the busier hub of KT. From here you are moments from the centre of town and a swift 10-15 minute march to the station. And you can be on the pier eating candy floss before you can say 'race you to the dodgems'.
Other property hot spots are Seven Dials with gorgeous properties, lots of regency and Georgian flats and is very close to both the station and the centre of town. Preston Park is another popular hotspot for DFLs and has bigger houses, gardens and of course, the gorgeous park. However, it's not as walkable to the centre (in my lazy ass opinion) Withdean and Westdene are well thought of, with a good spread of reasonably priced houses and decent primary schools.
If you want more bricks for your bucks you need to head out to Patcham, Portslade or Hollingbury. However, if funds are really strapped and you're happy with an ex-local authority pad, try the areas of Moulsecoomb, Bevendean and Whitehawk for a real bargain.
To be honest, I don't know a great deal about the Hove areas but I will check them out and report back.