Brighton, East Sussex

Discover why Brighton was chosen as one of The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2022 in their words.

Stroud, Gloucestershire

OK, time to ‘fess up. We’ve always had a bit of a blind spot about Brighton. Yes, we know lots of people really like it — and don’t they keep telling everyone — but the town-planning catastrophe of the seafront, London-sized house prices for not living in London, the whiff of grunge and that cooler-than-thou attitude have always sent us scurrying for the low-calorie alternatives of Lewes or Hove. 

Yet it is perfectly possible to enjoy the seafront city’s ample attributes while keeping its irritants at arm’s length. All you have to do is turn away from the English Channel and make home in one of the quieter areas on Brighton’s landward fringe — neighbours Fiveways and Preston Park — where you really can have the best of all worlds: country walks and cutting-edge culture, served up with a healthy dose of ozone-rich salty air. 

Robin Hatcher, a member of the improv-comedy quartet The Noise Next Door, plumped for Preston Park when he moved to Brighton in 2018. “There are so many amazing things you can get up to — gigs, festivals, brilliant food. It’s easy to get into town, but if I get on my bike I can be right up on the South Downs in five minutes. In my job I travel a lot, and this is definitely one of the friendliest cities. Everyone’s chatty and it’s so easy to get into conversations with people you don’t know,” he says.

You’ll also find family-friendly Victorian terraces with almost enough residents’ parking, local shops (Spar, sustainable homewares and enough caffeine to boost the WFH effort), green spaces and fun stuff for those days when you can’t be bothered to bus, bike or hike it to the centre. Preston Park itself, Brighton’s biggest, is a regular award-winner, thanks to the care shown by its volunteer Friends. It has walled, rock and wildflower gardens, playground and sports facilities, and hosts various outdoor events, including Pride - the grandest day out in the city’s social calendar.

High Street

Everything you want can be found in Brighton, and the Lanes is still one of the country’s most appealing districts for a meal or a mooch. If efforts to spread some of the magic to the seafront succeed — starting with the new Shelter Hall food market — that will be a big plus.

Ditchling Road in Fiveways is a great example of what a local high street can be, from vintage clothes, sustainable homewares and household goods at Store to butchers, bakers and delicious homemade grub at the Fiveways Deli or Tilt, which serves some of the best coffee in the city.

Preston Park has chemists, convenience stores, pet shops and more, though browsing here doesn’t have the same appeal — especially when you get close to the traffic-clogged A23. It is handy for the Cleveland Arms, a cracking pub which serves a near unbeatable Sunday roast (Sussex rump of beef £15, wash it down with a £5.50 bloody mary).

Broadband

Extensive coverage from Virgin Media with 100 Mbps to 1100 Mbps options, and also the Openreach full-fibre network on top of older superfast services.

Connections

Six trains an hour on most weekdays either to London or through the capital en route to Bedford or Cambridge. The fastest trains go to Victoria and take 60 minutes, though most services take up to ten minutes more. Lots of the slower trains to London stop at Preston Park. London Road station is also within walking distance for trains to Lewes (14 minutes). From both Preston Park and Fiveways it’s a ten-minute bike ride or 35-minute walk to the pier. You’ll need to allow 20 minutes to get into the centre by bus.

Schools

Check the catchment areas, but you’ve got a good chance of getting into either Downs or Stanford primaries, which are both rated outstanding by Ofsted (inspected in 2011 and 2010 respectively). Varndean College (2013) and Dorothy Stringer School (2018), both rated good by Ofsted, are the closest secondaries. Varndean College has a separate sixth form (rated good in 2018), while Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, just over the railway from Preston Park, is rated outstanding (2012).

Leading independent options include Brighton College, in the country’s top ten according to The Sunday Times Parent Power guide (day fees from £6,120 a term from age 11) and Roedean (fees from £5,990 from age 11). 

Best Address

The so-called golden triangle between Fiveways and Preston Park has some of the best and most attractive Victorian terraces in the city. Expect to pay about £1 million, depending on size and condition. 

Property prices

Average house price: £453,000 
Growth since 2020: 12% 
Source: Halifax using Land Registry data 

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Prices are correct as of April 2022.

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.