The county town of Kent, Maidstone is a large town with some 113,137 residents. Once an industrial powerhouse, the town has moved away from traditional heavy industries and towards an economy based on light industry and the service sector. It’s a charming and scenic town with many historic features as well as modern amenities. Maidstone is one of the oldest towns in the UK and may be named after a large monolith found in the area.
Is Maidstone a good place to live? Yes. Although it’s not the highest-rated town in Kent, Maidstone has some nice neighbourhoods and plenty to recommend it. It’s well-connected to London and other nearby towns and cities and offers plenty of opportunities.
- What job opportunities exist in Maidstone?
- What are the schools like?
- Is Maidstone a safe place to raise a family or retire?
- What are the local landmarks and attractions?
- How much does it cost to live in Maidstone?
Whether you’re a retiring expat looking for somewhere to settle or you’re starting a new job in Maidstone, you probably have a lot of questions about the town. Read on to discover everything you want to know.
Is Maidstone a good place to live?
Yes, in general. Kent is a very pleasant county, known as “The Garden of England”. As its county town, Maidstone combines this rural charm with modernity: new industries, new developments and everything you could want from a large modern town.
The climate is a gentle maritime one, with comfortable summers and very mild winters. This makes Maidstone a very appealing choice if you don’t like being too warm or too cold.
Like any large town, Maidstone has good and bad neighbourhoods — although there are no seriously dangerous locations. Neighborhoods that may be less salubrious include the Park Wood and Mangravet areas. Mixed-income neighbourhoods such as Ringlestone, Shepway or Tovil have some good aspects and are inexpensive. The most desirable areas are the town center or on the outskirts, where many neighborhoods retain their village identities – Bearsted, Loose and Penenden Heath.
Crime levels are fairly low in general. Although there are a few hot spots, Maidstone compares favorably with the national average.
Nightlife in Maidstone is lively, with people traveling from other parts of the South and East of England to enjoy the various bars and clubs in the centre. There is plenty of entertainment for every demographic, including theatre and cinema.
The school system is two-tier, with both comprehensive and grammar schools. There are also two schools for students with special educational needs. The University for the Creative Arts is located near to the town, in the neighbouring district of Oakwood. This is a prestigious university for art and design, with alumni including Tracey Emin.
Transport is extensive and reliable, although some outlying areas are better served than others. Maidstone has easy access to London via both road and rail, making it a popular choice for commuters. Maidstone is also well-connected to other towns and cities of interest.
Is Maidstone a good place to work?
The paper industry has historically been a major source of employment in Maidstone and remains significant, with paper and packaging companies offering a range of jobs from light industrial positions to management.
Other sectors that are heavily represented are services and tech jobs. Kent Council is based in Maidstone and is a very big employer; the nearby University for the Creative Arts also provides a great deal of quality employment in many different roles. Another major employer is Church International, a large recruitment agency headquartered in Maidstone, which is very highly regarded by its employees and clients.
Maidstone has bounced back from the recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s and the unemployment in the area continues to decrease. There’s also been a decline in underemployment, with more people transitioning from part-time to full-time employment.
Wages in Maidstone and nearby areas are reasonable as compared to the national average and the range of opportunities is good. The median salary is rather low — around £25,000 — but this reflects the preponderance of light industrial jobs in the region rather than a lack of higher-paid opportunities. The presence of several tech and recruitment companies in the town means that skilled candidates won’t have to look too far for a really good position.
Is Maidstone a good place to buy a house?
Property values in Maidstone run the gamut from small and inexpensive properties — perfect for a first home or as a stepping-stone into the buy-to-rent market — to highly desirable residences in excellent locations. Because of Maidstone’s proximity to the University for the Creative Arts, budget flats and single rooms in house-shares are in high demand.
Another factor in keeping property values low in some areas is the fact that light industry is a major employer, creating a need for accommodation that’s affordable on lower wages. On the other hand, there’s also a demand for larger and more desirable homes; this is driven by the presence of higher-paying employers in the tech sector and the large number of commuters settling in the town.
A single-bed home in Maidstone costs around £178,000, although prices will vary dramatically depending on the area. £315,000 is the average going rate for a three-bed house, while a five-bed house goes for £624,000. As you can see, these are fairly modest prices.
Rents are similarly economical, with family homes being quite affordable. The average rent is under £900 pcm. You can rent a one-bedroom house for £590 pcm a three-bedroom house for £1,140 pcm or a five-bedroom house for around £1,770 pcm. Flats and single-room rents are similarly affordable.
Is Maidstone a good place to retire?
Maidstone makes a good spot to retire. The town centre is hand for bus and rail connections, as well as excellent opportunities for shopping and socializing. On the downside, it can be a little rumbustious in the evenings and at night — especially at the weekends.
If you prefer a quieter spot, one of the neighbourhoods out towards the countryside. You can find some charming properties for about 15 minutes from the town centre that are ideal for retirement. A popular neighbourhood for retirees is Loose, which combines ease of access to the town centre with a quieter atmosphere.
If you’re seeking an age-controlled residence or sheltered housing, Maidstone has some very nice properties to buy or rent. Costs vary significantly depending on location and facilities but you can expect to buy a one-bedroomed house for around £180,000.
Unusually, Maidstone offers larger properties (including three and five-bedroom properties) aimed at retirees. These may be purpose-built for use as retirement homes or may be standard properties with special prices for over-60s. These can chiefly be found in retirement villages, such as the the Mote Park neighbourhood. and tend to cost rather more than an ordinary home of a similar size. This is because they are high-quality homes in good areas. Prices can vary but expect to pay around £400,000 for a three-bedroomed house or £700,000 for a five-bedroomed house.
Retirement flats are an affordable option. Prices are around £135,000 for a one-bedroom flat or £360,000 for a three-bedroom flat. Larger retirement flats than this are rare.
Is Maidstone a good place to visit?
Maidstone is a good place for a day out or a short break. There are plenty of things to do, from visits to historic sites or fun play parks for families. Shoppers will want to head for Fremlin Walk (this is also the main location for parking) or Maidstone Market. Accommodation ranges from chains such as Travelodge to former stately homes.
Outdoor activities are popular with visitors. Maidstone has lots of trails for cyclists and walkers, from simple, easy routes suitable for families with children or people with less mobility, to more advanced and challenging trails for experienced hikers.
Other activities include short weekend art or crafts courses, city walks and tours of historic sites. Visitors with an interest in history will want to see Leeds Castle while a boat trip along the River Medway is a great way to relax. This can be combined with a stop at Kent Life, an open-air museum with interactive exhibits and even a petting zoo.
Maidstone Museum is another fine destination: housed in historic Chillington House, Maidstone Museum has exhibits ranging from Japanese art to an Egyptian mummy. Maidstone Carriage Museum is also fascinating, dedicated to the history horse-drawn transport in the area and beyond.
Perhaps the most popular place to visit, though, is Mote Park. This is a large landscaped park with a 30-acre lake, riverside walks and mature woodland. The park is home to a wide variety of species, including many types of waterfowl and other bird life.
There are walking and cycling paths; for the younger and more energetic visitor, there’s even a BMX track. The park regularly hosts festivals, concerts and other special events. Even if no event is planned during your visit. You can easily spend an entire day just exploring Mote Park.