Published: 08:54, 26 March 2021
| Updated: 08:56, 26 March 2021
Two Kent towns are among the top 10 places to live in the south east in 2021 according to an annual list published by the Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times guide looks for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and community spirit. It judges areas on topics such as broadband, air quality and schools.
Deal is described as 'underrated' and where "the sophisticated and the sensible are nicely balanced and come with a sea view."
The guide says it's perfect if you want "a thriving seaside town that’s salty and sophisticated".
"Cosy pubs and wine bars abound, and dining options are plentiful: the Pop Up Café for lunch, Middle Street Fish Bar for cod and chips on the beach, Frog and Scot for post-lockdown French cuisine and Walmer Castle (a real castle, not a pub) for an atmospheric Sunday lunch with veg from the garden.
Deal With It, an environmentally-minded community group, gets a mention for its regular beach cleans and seed and plant swaps, as well as its community hop garden and community-grown beer.
Sevenoaks is said to have been a massive draw during the pandemic as Londoners left the capital for a life in the countryside and is described as "somewhere safe and sensible to settle down".
The guide highlights the 10,300 users of the Sevenoaks Mums online parenting magazine, the Stag arts centre and The Sevenoaks Bookshop.
Readers are advised not to miss takeaway antipasti from Marco, an Italian deli on the high street, 'enjoyed in the glorious grounds of Knole Park'.
If there's a drawback, then it could be that you need to earn a small fortune to be able to afford a house there.
"Its popularity is pushing up house prices - the average estimated house value is more than £710,000, even higher than London," says the guide.
Stroud in Gloucestershire was named the best place to live in the UK, while the Surrey Hills were the best in the south east.
Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings.
“With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.
“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages.
“Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected."