Folkestone – is it really up and coming???

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Ann 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Hi all. Both me and my fiancé were born in London and have always lived here. He works in IT and I’m a graphic designer. After a lot of time trying to find somewhere affordable to buy a house in London we’ve reconciled ourselves to the fact that there is nothing in an area we would like to be and start a family. So, we’ve come to the realisation that we will do better to move away from our home town :”( However, this will allow me to set myself up as self-employed and also time off when we do have a child without having to worry about money and childcare costs, so although sad at the thought of leaving, I am also excited 😀 My fiancé will need to be able to get into London easily for work still.

    My question: what is Folkestone REALLY like? I’ve read that it’s gone through a bit of regeneration and many creative types are moving there from London – the creative quarter/community appeals to me since I will be a designer living outside of London. However, I am reading a lot of mixed opinions and have also seen images/videos online which do’t paint a very pretty picture. I’m getting the feeling the place is a tale of two halves? We are going to visit in a few weeks to find out for ourselves but I wondered if anyone could give me an HONEST opinion of the place – pros and cons?

    From what we can work out:

    lovely victorian/edwardian villas at prices which we otherwise would NEVER be able to afford (we currently have a 2 bed flat in zone 5 of NW London).
    HS1 train straight to Kings Cross which is where my fiancé works.
    Lot’s of independent coffee shops and restaurants.

    I’ve seen videos on youtube of desolate streets and depressed looking shopping areas.
    I’ve read comments online which mention problems with men hanging around the streets drunk, from other areas of europe due to being close to tunnel – is this true?

    We would ideally like somewhere that ticks these boxes:
    Period property with garden.
    Somewhere where we can see and hear the wildlife.
    Lovely local parks.
    Cafe culture.
    Creative community.
    Safe – I know drunks etc exist everywhere to a certain extent, but I wouldn’t want to live somewhere where I’m constantly avoiding dunk leering men on park benches/street corners/outside pubs etc. or avoiding areas all together (get enough of that in London)!
    A market for fresh food/veg etc.
    Good selection of restaurants to walk to

    I know I’m probably asking too much!

    Do you think Folkestone would fit this bill?

    Do you think the regeneration achieved so far is sustainable? This is a worry, as I’m unsure how established it is.

    Thanks for any comments! 🙂



    Hi Rebecca,

    I moved to Folkestone 2 years ago to open a shop with my partner Steve who makes handbags. We live in the Old High Street and our shop is in Tontine Street (both Creative Quarter). You are right in that there are 2 streams: the negative and the positive. I have learnt not to listen to the first because they are against the change and regeneration. And if you listen to the pessimists… nowhere is happy!
    To answer your questions:
    1) because of the nature of our shop (upcycled furniture and home stuff), we get many new comers as customers, who have bought a 5 bedroom Victorian house, getting rid of their 2-bed flat and their mortgage in London :-). Generally they have young children or are starting a family like you and one of them at least commutes to St Pancras. What i hear is it’s worth it.
    2) I wouldn’t say there are lots of coffee shops but there are a few that are really nice both in Folkestone and Sandgate. Try Googies, Beano’s, Ampersand, Follies, Rocksalt, Blooms for both coffee and food. Loaf in Sandgate. I may have forgotten one or two.
    3) The most lovely park I’ve ever seen is the Coastal Park – and when you’ll have kids, it’s paradise! When going there try the Mermaid cafe on the beach – it’s a secret heaven!
    4) Creative community. That is for sure true! Painters, musicians, poets, writers, film makers, screen printers, the list is endless… Check the Creative Quarter’s website and the Quarterhouse (they have really good movies, comedy, dance and festivals).
    5) Personally i think it’s safe. We live in one of the “rough” parts of town (according to Folkestone West). We are not far from the Party bar and can hear girls and boys going down there every Friday, Saturday. Sometimes we hear the police has to intervene. And yes, i have never seen so many “weirdoes” – drunks/other – and there are homeless people… but I have seen them in London too, it seems to me that the recession is to blame everywhere. The High Street is like any with lots of charity shops and pound shops. But 3 minute walk from the beautiful Leas and St Eanstwythe Church yard.
    We live in the CQ because of our shop. Otherwise, i’d love to live on the East Cliff (Wearbay Crescent is lovely) or Radnor Park leafy avenues (near station). We also have many customers who have bought in Folkestone West (Clifton Crescent). Beautiful houses.
    6) Restaurants: Rocksalt, Blooms, Follies, Ampersand, Beano’s, The Ship in Sandgate (at lunch, walk and back), Copper and Spice, and more… the SmokeHouse for fish and chips… pubs: British Lion, the Pullman, the Ship and the True Briton (music on Sundays)
    7) Beaches: Sunny Sands and the Warren and more
    8) Festivals: Ska festival (nice music all around), Charivari (fab!), …. can’t remember but there is more
    Folkestone is up and coming, it will get better and better. Do come. If you can, it’s Open QUarter on 20/21 June. One of the best week ends in the Creative Quarter, where artists open their studios. And visit us at Anecdotes Design, follow the chairs!



    Hi, Folkestone is a great area and there are many different lifestyles within the town. If you are considering moving to the Kent Coast, where we have such easy access to London and the Continent, and also enjoy the sea side I recommend taking a look just a few miles down the coast to neighboring towns with all the modern lifestyle needs, drive just a few miles down to Sandgate and on to Hythe.
    Hythe is really a wonderful town and the central older village area with a thriving High Street, a Waitrose, Sainsburys, Aldi, parks, a lovely canal with row boats, beaches and the Hythe Bay microclimate – a bit warmer – you may be pleasantly surprised! Folkestone is a five minute drive away, and in Hythe the lifestyle is really wonderful.
    Our family has lived here since 1966, we being the third generation. It’s very family oriented and child friendly and all I can suggest is to take a look by coming for the day! A nice preview that may help you is to take a look at our websites – and
    Ps: we also have sophisticated restaurants, nice shops, and a beautiful stretch of sea side Promenade that goes all the way to Folkestone and Dover!

    Good Luck with your search, John and Milaena Osborne



    Hi Rebecca

    My husband and I moved down to Folkestone 6 months ago, I was also born in London and we lived in Bromley for the last 30 years. We have been weekenders here for 6 years and have seen slow but steady improvement in the area. My husband works in Bermondsey and commutes to St Pancras, I’m a fused glass maker and am hoping to have a studio finished later this summer and am looking forward to being part of the local artist’s community. What Barbara has said is absolutely right (her shop is lovely too!), there are parts of Folkestone which aren’t lovely but they are definitely in the minority and there were plenty of areas in South London which were similar but that didn’t stop the property prices being ridiculous. I love that Folkestone has independent shops and cafes, there aren’t many chain stores; Debenhams, Next and Boots have survived but there’s plenty of shopping in Ashford or Canterbury if needed. The regeneration started several years ago and stalled because of the recession so I believe what has been achieved so far is sustainable because of this, there will be slow but steady improvement.

    We’re the other end of the spectrum to you in that our children are in their 20s and have left home but they love coming down to Folkestone (both very much into cafe culture and the local pubs). I have friends who left London and brought their families up here and say it’s the best thing they every did! Hope you enjoy your stay here.



    Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! I really appreciate your comments – particularly as they’re so balanced. It’s also comforting to know that the impression I seem to have of the area seems inline with your real-life experience of the place (I’m yet to visit). Thanks for letting us know about the 20/21. We’ve decided to visit on sat 20th! We’re going to start in Hythe in the morning, then work our way along to Sandgate then Folkestone. We’re hoping this day will give us an opportunity to meet the community (hopefully it’ll be good weather and people will be out and about?!). We’ll definitely pop in to say hello!

    I’m really looking forward to it now (even to trying out the new HS1 – sad I know ha ha).

    All the comments on here have really given the impression of a welcoming community which is also really positive for us as we won’t have any family or friends in the area should we make the move.



    Hi Milaena and John. Thanks for your reply 🙂 I haven’t explore Hythe as an option so much so far, as I’ve only just really touched upon it in my research. But you’ve painted quite a nice picture of it I’ll have to check it out in more detail! The micro climate and Waitrose sound very appealing ha ha!

    As long time residents of the area, can I ask what do you think of the regeneration so far? It would be interesting to hear what you think.



    Hi Milaena and John. Thanks for your reply 🙂 I haven’t explored Hythe as an option so much so far, as I’ve only just really touched upon it in my research. But you’ve painted quite a nice picture of it I’ll have to check it out in more detail! The micro climate and Waitrose sound very appealing ha ha!

    As long time residents of the area, can I ask what do you think of the regeneration so far? It would be interesting to hear what you think.



    Hi, I’m happy the posts have given you both some ideas of life down here! We have watched Folkestone evolve for many years, and the folks that work hard at helping Folkestone really care. It’s a big job
    because it’s a large town with many distinct areas and features.

    We think it really depends on what you are looking for in a lifestyle and think it’s a great idea to take a day and checkout the local coastal towns. We both grew up in big cities, me in San Francisco
    and John in London and our parents bought in Hythe in 1966, so our children were christened here and
    there are many great family memories. Hythe used to be quite sleepy, but has evolved into a place that
    now attracts London people who want to live a less hectic home life, although many still work in The City.

    We have a train station just above us at Sandling Station – one mile away. One can get a direct train that goes to St. Pancras inmless than an hour, stopping only in Ashford International on the way.
    One can get a property at half the London prices and double the room with a garden, and we walk to everything for daily shopping. Canterbury is a twenty minute drive, Rye in Sussex 30 minutes. We are ten minutes from the Eurotunnel, so France is a day trip.

    Let us know what you think and please feel free to drop by our house while here at 2 Centuries on Church Hill, one street above the High Street but quiet and calm – no noise!

    John and Milaena
    01303 266 850



    Hi Ann. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply 🙂 It’s good to hear that, as someone who has known/visited the area over a sustained length of time you have seen real positive change and believe it to be sustainable. I’ve read that the man who owned Saga is behind a lot of the regeneration? I guess my concern is that one day he decides to move on to a new project, or doesn’t want to continue to invest, and then Folkestone declines back to what it once was? (I think I’m showing my naivety here because I know absolutely nothing about regeneration and investment and have no idea how these things work! Are my concerns even plausible?!)

    It’s quite funny that we seem to have a few things in common: born in London, we used to live in Bermondsey and know it well (another area that has gone through major regeneration), and up until a few weeks ago we were considering Bromley as an area to buy, as the houses there are often more affordable than most other areas of London still (maybe lack of tubes but instead rail keeps the prices down)? But still, we would struggle to buy a 2 bed property with a tiny garden there (we have a 2 bed flat to sell in NW London). Also struggling to buy/stay in London would mean I have no choice but to continue to work full-time, and when we do start a family we will then have the stress/worry of childcare costs etc etc. The thought of it all was already making me stressed! Hence why we think we’ll be best to pack it all in and move! This way we can afford to live just about comfortably off one wage when needs be if/when a baby arrives, and I can set myself up as self employed without financial worry/pressure too (if this goes to plan we really would be living a lifestyle we would never have even imagined in London – financially! Which is why I guess a supportive creative community is important to me whilst I’m getting my business established). It sounds like a dream…which is why I’m so intrigued by the place I guess. It’s lovely to hear you know other couples/families who have done the same and have been more than happy with their decisions!

    Can I ask, would you say the place has a village feel? We’re contemplating if we would prefer a more rural/village life, or more of a small town with access to rural countryside (does Folkestone have the latter)?



    Thanks for the offer Milaena that’s really kind of you! Perhaps we will catch you on the day 🙂



    Hi Rebecca

    Yes we lived in Bermondsey before moving to Bromley, our youngest son lives there now and we’ve just got back from a weekend there – I feel so lucky to have a foot in both camps! We have a great life in Folkestone but can get our London fix whenever we feel the need. Our years in Bromley were good, we moved there when it was reasonably affordable before we had a family, transport to Victoria was great and the schools excellent. In recent years as I’ve developed my glass business, I’ve found this part of the Kent coast has a very supportive creative community and the views provide far more inspiration!

    The former owner of Saga, Roger De Haan is the force behind the redevelopment, he is a local man and is still locally based. The development work is undertaken by the Creative Foundation and his charitable trust so they are totally committed to Folkestone.

    We live in Sandgate, it definitely has a village feel. We can walk into Folkestone in 20 mins either along the beach promenade or through the coastal park. Going out in the evening it’s easy to get taxis and they’re cheap compared to London. My OH walks to Folkestone West station to commute, it’s an uphill trek in the mornings but it keeps him fit 🙂 There are some beautiful period houses near Folkestone Central station in the Radnor Park area. And yes Folkestone is a small town with plenty of countryside on the doorstep, which we haven’t had a chance to explore properly yet.

    If you’re here on the 20th, Sandgate Farmer’s market is on in the Chichester Hall in the village, pop in there in the morning then I recommend coffee or lunch in Loaf :-).



    Hi all, unfortunately we can no longer make the Open Quarter on the 20/21 🙁 but will be visiting on the 6th instead, as I note the Sandgate farmers market Ann (thanks for letting me know) so I at least wanted to visit this (and from what I understand this will be open on the 6th).

    I’m actually really blown away by the enthusiasm you’ve all shown in the place and the effort you have all gone to to make me feel welcome before I’ve even got there! I notice a few of you are running your own businesses (I’m a self-employed graphic/branding designer and specialise in supporting small-medium sized businesses) and as a thank you I would like to offer any of you who may need my services, now or into the future, 10% off (please see I hope this doesn’t come across as cold self-promotion – I just genuinely wanted to find a way to say thanks! 🙂



    Hi, happy you are getting informed about the area. As for artists, there are so many in the Hythe/Sandgate/Folkestone circle. We run a bed and breakfast and have been surprised by it’s success over the last four years. I also studied Graphic Design (graduated 1980!) and John studied with David Hockney in London and got a MFA in Printmaking in San Francisco. We have many artists on our hill in Hythe and Open Studio Days several times a year.

    The Hythe Farmer’s Market is the second and fourth Saturday of each month all year round.

    Overall, our lifestyle in Hythe and what we appreciate are:
    Ease of quick access to London & Canterbury; we love the coast going up to Thanet and around to Whitstable – a short jaunt. Many sand beaches and beautiful view across the channel to France.
    A wealth of convenience shopping and living needs such as walkingto Waitrose, sainsbury, and Aldi; doctors surgeries, old fashioned hardware store, several great restaurants and take-aways. Quick access to the beach 5 minute walk, and the broad canal 27 miles long coming through Hythe all the way to Rye. Several beautiful parks and walks, lots of younger families and children moving into Hythe. I could go on and on!

    We go to Folkestone The Leas Park and Beach, our dentists, solicitor, and several restaurants, one being Mexican.In Sangate we love the antique and vintage shops and reataurant Escondido (Mexican), and the cute pastel cottages on the sea.

    We take the Eurotunnel with our car several times a year, such a quick 30 minute ride across to Calais; we usually drive south on the Normandy coast for great food and small seaside villages.

    Anyway, enough from us!! Good luck and have fun when you are down here! John and Milaena Osborne



    Hello, I know this is an old thread but thought the following may help or be of interest to others thinking of doing the same.



    Hi all, I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts and this is great information. I know this an old thread but like Rebecca, my husband and I are considering a move to Folkestone from south London (Bromley) this Summer. We won’t have a huge amount of time for viewings and I’m just wondering if there are any areas/streets to avoid so we don’t waste our time viewing properties in areas that we won’t want to live in. We’ll be working with a decent budget and hoping to find something with 3/4 bedrooms. Thanks. Sara

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