House Hunter: 'We want both space and culture'

Chris Brown and his wife Moira want to move out of London but cannot agree on a location. Their budget is arond £300,000
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THE PROBLEM

"My wife Moira and I are often at loggerheads over where we should move to. My daughter Sophie is 10 so next September she will be going to secondary school and we both agree that next summer would be a good time to move. I want to move out of London, ideally to somewhere fairly quiet and self-contained by the seaside. Broadstairs in Kent is my ideal. Moira, however, regards Broadstairs as the end of the earth and a place people retire to, which is true but I love it. If she can't stay in London - we live about half an hour to Charing Cross in Eltham - she would like to go to another city. Brighton is her ideal but we can't afford a detached house there and I don't like it anyway as it's too much like London.

"Moira also likes Eastbourne, which is rather trendy now, but I don't think you have to give up on culture if you're further out in the country. We need a compromise and want a lively town, with reasonable housing. It should be no more than 90 minutes from central London as I'm self-employed and will have to come in a few days a week. We want a three or four-bedroom detached house, not because we want a lot of land, but so that we are protected from neighbours and can make our own noise. We are flexible as to type of property, as space and location are more important than period detail - although something that is not brand new is preferable. If you can come up with a solution this would be much appreciated."

THREE PROPERTIES FOR CHRIS AND MOIRA TO VIEW

Property one: Ivy Cottage, Preston Lane, Faversham

Price: £230,000

Agent: Bradford and Bingley Geering and Colyer, 01795 538112

Agent's details: Ivy Cottage is a detached period property, built around 1812, and boasts many character features. The sitting room and dining room are both a good size for a cottage and the property has two bedrooms plus study. The property has an excellent mature walled garden and is within walking distance of the town centre.

Property two: Fig Tree Road, Broadstairs

Price: £325,000

Agent: Colebrook, Sturrock and Co, 01843 863100

Agent's details: This property enjoys a delightful setting, being located in a highly respected residential area of individual houses. The property has three reception rooms and a conservatory. The master bedroom boasts an en suite bathroom and dressing room. The house has large gardens and is approached via a five-bar gate.

Property three: New House, Broadfield Road, Folkestone

Price: £295,000

Agent: Fell Reynolds, 01303 850125

Agent's details: A modern, individual detached house in a tree-lined road. The property has a large kitchen, spacious living/dining area, four bedrooms and a galleried landing. The easy-care gardens are landscaped, with patio areas and raised flower beds. It is within easy walking distance of the railway station.

ALEXANDRA'S ADVICE

"Kent Home Finders is a property search company which specialises in finding upmarket properties for discerning clients looking to buy their perfect home in Kent, 'the garden of England'. We aim to take the stress out of finding a home by doing all the leg-work for our clients. We are often aware of properties before they are advertised so we are in a position to secure a property on behalf of a client before it even appears on the open market.

"Chris has quite specific requirements and they clearly differ slightly from those of Moira who is less keen to be remote from London. Because of this, we have chosen three highly suitable properties in three very attractive towns. Each has differing characteristics and transport links and all benefit from Kent's high quality grammar schools, which would be ideal for Sophie.

"The first property is in Faversham, an unspoilt, picturesque market town with more than 500 listed buildings and traditional shopping streets. Faversham has a creek-side location, unlike the other two towns which have beachfront locations, and currently has the best links to London. The chosen property is a character cottage boasting many period features and is within walking distance of the town centre.

"The second property is in Broadstairs, which Chris loves although Moira considers it too remote. It certainly is a picturesque and dramatic town, with two stunning beaches and associations with Charles Dickens. However, of the three towns, Broadstairs is, and will remain, the least accessible for London. The property is in a very sought-after residential area, and is a more modern detached family home.

"The third property is in Folkestone which we feel is a picturesque coastal resort with very high quality neighbourhoods in the West End, on a par with London's Belgravia and Kensington. While currently it's quite remote from London it seems likely that a new high-speed train service to London will soon be operating, utilising the tracks of the Channel Tunnel Link. In terms of travel time this will bring Folkestone much closer to London and buying here would therefore be a very good investment. The property is a new build in a non-estate position. It is in walking distance of Folkestone School for Girls (Grammar) and the mainline railway station."

Kent Home Finders: 01622 735977 www.kenthomefinders.co.uk

THE VERDICT

"We spent the weekend in Broadstairs and I am slightly less keen having seen the Saturday night hordes. It's probably also too far from London. I like Faversham although this property sounds too small for us. I was intrigued by Alexandra's description of Folkestone, though I'm not sure if residents of Belgravia would agree. But the way the property was described, it'd definitely be worth having a look at, particularly as transport links are set to improve. Realistically I think we may now start looking somewhere like Tunbridge which is in between and where prices don't seem to be greatly more."

Interviews by Ginetta Vedrickas

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail househunter@independent.co.uk

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