The picturesque villages south of Reading are hugely popular among commuters looking to offset their busy working weeks with a suitably rural home life. Three Mile Cross, Shinfield, Grazeley, Arborfield, Burghfield and Spencers Wood offer plenty of open space and wonderful character - they all have so much to offer.
Housing and transport
Many villages, especially the likes of Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood, retain beautiful rural characteristics, with various buildings reflecting their historic natures. The communities within these villages work hard to keep the features that make these areas such pleasant places to call home.
Properties in southern Reading reflect the ongoing developments that have been taking place since the late 1800s, so you will find a variety of styles on offer. Many of the homes are detached or semi-detached, while terraces, particularly in the smaller villages, tend to consist of no more than four properties.
Three Mile Cross has an overall average price of £386,106, having seen year-on-year increases of around 20 per cent.
With a steeper price bracket, homes in Burghfield sold for an average of £488,611 in 2014. Shinfield, to the south of the M4, is comparably more affordable, with prices averaging at £354,191. Arborfield offers some of the lowest prices in the southern Reading area, with an average of £332,300.
Of course these prices are averages, so that's not to say you won't find a property in your budget.
Southern Reading's schools
The new Arborfield development has brought with it a much-needed new secondary school. Planned to open in September 2016, the school will eventually cater for 1,200 pupils aged 11-16. The £37 million establishment will be run by Bohunt Education Trust.
The popular John Madejski Academy is just north of the M4 on the outskirts of Reading. This specialist sports facility is easily reachable for pupils travelling from Shinfield or Three Mile Cross. In Three Mile Cross itself you'll find Oakbank School and Ryish Green - both primary establishments - as well as The Vine Christian School.
Shinfield caters for ages 4-11 with the Shinfield Church of England infant and junior schools, while Grazeley has the Grazeley Parochial Primary School.
More information about the schools around nearby Wokingham, many of which cater for the residents of villages in southern Reading, can be found here.
Sports and societies in southern Reading
With open spaces, public footpaths and leafy woodland; the area south of Reading provides plenty of excellent walks.
If you're feeling sporty, there's an annual 10K race held on the May bank holiday in Shinfield which is always popular.
The area is also well-served by numerous high-quality sporting venues and activities in Reading itself. With the Academy Sport centre just the other side of the M4, you'll also discover a host of sports clubs offering rugby, football and more.
Eating and drinking
Southern Reading boasts a delightful array of rustic and traditional pubs set among the beautiful countryside villages.
Those looking for something extra special will find the delicious Michelin-starred L'Ortolan restaurant. Located in a picturesque Shinfield location, its unique menu offers a magical experience that's certainly out of the norm.
You'll also find a wonderful selection of Indian food, thanks to the vibrant multicultural community in the Reading area.
Shopping in and around Reading
Of course, Reading itself offers a wealth of shopping opportunities (with The Oracle shopping centre and a maze of high street shops), but each of the villages has its own offerings. You'll find a post office, local store and all the conveniences you would expect, while nearby, large, out-of-town supermarkets provide everything needed for a weekly shop.
Out and about
With plenty of chances to go off the beaten track and explore the countryside, you won't be short of adventures in the area south of Reading. Spring offers family-friendly opportunities to visit the many farms and lambing centres in the region, such as Lockey Farm in Arborfield and Amners Farm in Burghfield - both of which providing hands-on animal experiences and fun kids' activities.
You also have lovely country trails to consider; perfect for walking or cycling.
Community life and culture
Each village offers its own unique character, but all provide the same great community quality. Whether you're looking for a comfortable retirement location or the ideal spot to commute from, you're sure to find somewhere to suit in one of these delightful places.