Reading is a commuting haven, but homebuyers shouldn’t overlook its wealth of shopping, riverside location and investment opportunities.
Reading is a large town in Berkshire. It sits astride the River Thames and River Kennet and was once a thriving river port.
How much will it cost to buy
Reading’s travel credentials and south east location put its house prices well above England’s average.
For buyers, the current average asking price is £432,615. The table, below, shows how many properties have sold in Reading over the past 12 months, the average sale price and the current average value based on Zoopla's data.
What about renters?
Average asking rents for homes in Reading currently stand at £1,487 per month. Renters will need to budget £1,100 for a two-bedroom flat and £1,751 for a four-bedroom house.
Finding an estate agent
Whether you’re buying or renting, you can choose the right agent with our handy AgentFinder tool. It allows you to compare the number of listings and time it takes to sell from local agents. There's a total of 96 sales and letting agents in Reading listed on Zoopla.
Living in Reading: What to expect
Reading’s train station is the central hub of the town and has recently undergone major improvements with a new track layout and more platforms.
Crossrail was scheduled to open at the station in December 2019, with the Elizabeth line taking passengers directly into the heart of London. However, the current opening date is uncertain as the project has been plagued by delays.
Sitting aside two major rivers, Reading is the hub of many watersports, including canoeing and rowing. Crowds line the riverside during the summer regattas and enjoy walking along the Thames Path which runs directly through the centre of town.
Green spaces and quaint pubs can also be found dotted along the riverfront, giving residents a close-by quiet escape from the more hectic town life.
Urban comforts are provided in the form of theatres such as South Street Arts Centre and a glut of museums. The University of Reading contributes towards this tally with the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, Museum of English Rural Life and the Cole Museum of Zoology.
Of course, locals can jump on the train and be in London in 30 minutes, giving them access to all that the capital has to offer. Direct trains can also carry residents to other major cities such as Oxford.
Reading has several excellent schools. The Heights Primary School and Reading School (a secondary school and sixth form) are among those that achieved ‘outstanding’ ratings from their last Ofsted inspection.
Where to start your property search
Town centre: The conservation area between King’s Road and the University of Reading is popular with residents. Elden Square is especially desirable due to its regency houses built of Bath stone.
For large detached and semi-detached Victorian homes, look to streets such as Alexandra Road, which has bay-fronted houses with other period features. Victorian terraces can be seen along Prince of Wales Avenue.
If you’d prefer an apartment in a period home, look to Wilton Road. This street features Grade II-listed buildings that have been converted into modern flats.
New housing developments are also springing up. If you’d prefer a modern home, take a look at Kennet Island. It’s built on a former waterworks and has one- and two-bedroom flats.
The suburbs: If you want convenient commuting but easy access to the countryside, look to Caversham Heights. Located to the north, it sits between Reading and the Oxfordshire countryside.
Find family semis on Geoffreyson Road, Edwardian houses on Albert Road and even some thatched homes on Grosvenor Road.
Property in Sonning, which lies about four miles north-west of Reading town centre, tends to take the form of larger period homes – which are unsurprisingly extremely pricey. In fact, George Clooney and his wife, Amal bought a home there back in 2014 for an estimated £10m.
But you’ll also find 1750s cottages with exposed beams and open fireplaces or character terraced houses. A new estate at Sonning Eye is also offering exclusive but contemporary homes.
Any home in Sonning will reward you with immediate access to country views, river walks and some beautiful old pubs.
Less expensive Earley, in the south, offers 20th-century homes. Maiden Erleigh Drive has semis, detached houses and 1930s bay-fronted properties.
Calcot has excellent links to the M4 and its own golf course. Modern semis and maisonettes can be found here, along with more unusual properties such as converted chapels.
To the west of Reading is Tilehurst. Compton Road is a particularly sought-after road as it offers easy access to the village centre as well as links to the M4. Twentieth-century homes and purpose-built flats are all available.
If you want to enjoy a village lifestyle, take a look around the houses at Pangbourne. Scenic riverside walks are a feature of this area, as are comfortable detached homes and period, bay-fronted terraces.
What’s for sale
… for the first-time buyer?
This smart first floor apartment is ideal for someone looking to take their first steps on the property ladder. There’s no work necessary, it comes with an allocated parking space and sits close to Reading West train station and the town centre.
Available via Village Properties Estate Agents
…for the family?
Although this home is immaculately maintained, there’s great potential for it to be modernised into your dream family home. A new kitchen is likely to be a priority, but most of the other work needed is superficial. Outside you’ll find the added bonus of an impressive 258ft garden and off-street parking.
Available via Haslams Estate Agents
... for renters?
With Reading’s mainline station on the doorstep, this three-bedroom Victorian home is perfect for renters commuting into the London. This unfurnished home boasts two reception rooms, two double-bedrooms, one single-bedroom, a family bathroom and a garden with decking.
Available via Davis Tate
... with the biggest discount?
On the outskirts of Reading in the new Green Park Village development you’ll find this sleek new-build flat that’s had its asking price reduced by 25.2%. It’s gradually come down from £441,000, and there could be room to negotiate a great deal. Perks include a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, a balcony, allocated parking and a 10-year NHBC warranty.
Available via Chancellors
The most popular Reading property currently for sale is…
This modern mews home is modest from the outside, but surprisingly spacious inside thanks to its double height open plan kitchen and living space. A spiral staircase leads up to a mezzanine level and one of the bedrooms, while the other is found on the ground floor next to the contemporary bathroom.
Available via Century 21
Getting in and around Reading
By train: Trains run from Reading to London Paddington at a rate of around 13 every hour, with a fast service taking around 30 minutes.
Reading West, Tilehurst and Earley train stations also service the area. A station in Green Park is due to open in summer 2019 and Crossrail was due to start running from Reading from the end of 2019, but the opening date is currently unconfirmed.
By car: The M4 curves to the south of Reading and links the town to the M25. The M40 and M3 are also within easy reach.
Ever-worsening congestion in the town is eased somewhat by the ring road (Inner Distribution Road) but driving through the centre is difficult and not permitted at all during rush hour (7-11am and 4-7pm). Residents and visitors are encouraged to use park and ride services instead.
By air: The closest airport to Reading is Heathrow, which is just a 25-minute drive along the M4. Direct trains also run to Gatwick Airport, which is 90 minutes away by car. Southampton Airport can be reached in an hour.
Things to do in Reading
Shopping: Reading is a major shopping centre and home to The Oracle arcade which has more than 80 stores, including high-street favourites such as Debenhams and House of Fraser. Tired shoppers can rest their feet in one of the arcade’s many cafés, restaurants and bars.
The town also boasts three smaller arcades: the Bristol and West Arcade, the Harris Arcade and The Walk where you’ll find smaller, more specialist shops. Broad Street is another popular shopping destination, with shops including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Primark.
For markets, head to the street market held in Hosier Street, or check out the famers’ market that is held for two days every month in the city centre.
History and heritage: Wander around the ruins of Reading Abbey, once one of Europe’s largest and wealthiest medieval centres. It was founded in 1121 and now sits in the Abbey Quarter in the centre of the town.
Reading Minster is also worth a look around. It was founded in the 7th Century and is still an active place of worship. You can also visit to listen to organ and choir music.
Further your knowledge of the town at Reading Museum. It’s home to Victorian art and also has a large collection of biscuit tins that reference Reading’s past as one of the largest biscuit producers in the world.
For ancient history, visit the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology. It’s home to one of the largest collections of Greek ceramics in Britain.
Green spaces: Admire the landscaped Forbury Gardens. It’s home to the Maiwand Lion, which is dedicated to the loss of Berkshire men at the Battle of Maiwand.
Urban peace can also be found at the Caversham Court Gardens. These gardens have a Green Flag award as well as a Green Heritage Site award. The site dates back to the 12th century and was updated in 2009.
Get active by joining one of the town’s many rowing or canoeing clubs. The town hosts regattas every year. Clubs such as Reading Rowing Club host courses that can teach you the basics of the sport.
Alternatively, hire a boat to cruise down the Thames and Kennet rivers. Some steamers also offer jazz cruises, so you can enjoy some music as well as the scenery.
Festivals: The town is the host of the Reading Festival, one of Britain’s most popular music festivals. It draws large crowds every year to hear international and up-and-coming bands.
Beer is also celebrated at the Reading Beer Festival. It’s held over the May Day weekend and regularly offers more than 500 different ales to sample.
You can celebrate the town’s riverside heritage at Waterfest. This annual event includes boat parades and huge water fights.
Food & drink: Sample an award-winning pie at Sweeney & Todd or enjoy a casual meal at micro-brewery Zero Degrees. For a quirky music venue as well as a drink, head to Purple Turtle Bar. It’s recently undergone a £1m refurbishment and its retro style is a favourite of locals. For a quirky afternoon tea, head to Whittington’s Tea Barge on the River Thames.
The Reading International Solidarity Centre is home to a fair trade café and shop, but it also contains a hidden oasis. Head up to the roof and you’ll find an edible forest garden which is also used as an educational tool to teach children and young people how to grow their own food.
5 reasons to live in Reading
- Excellent train services for commuters – set to improve with the arrival of Crossrail
- 30-minute journey time to London
- Diverse range of homes, including new-build and riverside homes
- Excellent shopping
- Good schools
You might also be interested in...
- More UK buying guides
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- How first-time buyers can step on to the property ladder
- Thinking about downsizing in retirement? Ask yourself these 7 questions
Why do you think Reading is a great place to live? Let us know in the comments below…