Guildford or Woking which town is the best place to live?

It’s an age-old debate among the residents of west Surrey: is Guildford or Woking the better place to live? We could be really mature about this and compare the two using facts and data, but surely the better way is… FIGHHHHTTTTT!

Just kidding. We don’t want to be responsible for starting an actual civil war within our county – we were just making a slightly dated reference to comedian Harry Hill, who by the way was born in Woking. In the interests of keeping the peace, we will settle for facts and data after all.

Where appropriate we’ve used actual statistics to show you the differences between the two, including whether they are good for families and which town is cheaper to buy a home, but (spoiler alert) we won’t be reaching any conclusions about which of the two really is the superior place to live – we will give you the information, and you can make the decision for yourselves!

READ MORE: 10 things you’ll only know if you live in Woking

With that in mind, here is a whistlestop comparison of Guildford and Woking. We’ve chosen to compare the two towns in six important categories, and the findings are sometimes quite surprising…

1. Property prices – is Woking cheaper than Guildford?

Based on information from property website Rightmove, Woking is the slightly cheaper of the two towns for those looking to buy property. The average house price over the past year in Woking was around £529,000 compared to £581,000 in Guildford. Interestingly, prices are down one per cent in Woking compared to the previous year while prices in Guildford are up by three per cent.

The most common type of property to be sold in Woking over the past year was detached houses, while in Guildford it was semi-detached. Prices were higher across the board on property types in Guildford with detached, semi-detached, terraced houses and flats all more expensive to buy than in Woking.

For sale signs
Guildford’s property prices are higher than Woking’s
(Image: SurreyLive – Grahame Larter)

2. Transport

For those commuting into London by rail each day, Woking has a slight advantage over its neighbour: fast trains are more regular to Waterloo from Woking and only take 25 minutes, whereas Guildford is further away so the fastest train into town takes 32 minutes. The last train home from the city is also a bit later from Woking, as many of us who have had a late night in the capital know all too well. Both towns are currently having some issues with their bus service.

In terms of roads, Guildford is of course served by the A3 and the A31 while Woking is quite close to both the M3 and junction 11 of the M25. Both towns are excellently positioned for London’s two biggest airports: Woking is a little nearer to Heathrow and Gatwick is closer to Guildford, but either airport can be reached from both towns with ease.

Join the conversation in our comments section to let us know which town you think should take the crown and why

Guildford train station
You can get to London from Guildford in 32 minutes by train
(Image: Surrey Advertiser)

3. Schools

Earlier this year SurreyLive listed every secondary school in Surrey that had an “Outstanding” rating in their most recent Ofsted inspections. Three of the 17 schools on the list were from Guildford and three were from Woking, so there’s not much to separate them there.

At around the same time we also listed every primary school in the county that had achieved the “Outstanding rating”. Here Guildford has a slight advantage, with nine schools making the cut compared to six from Woking.

St John the Baptist School in Woking is consistently among the highest Ofsted scores in Surrey
St John the Baptist School in Woking is consistently among the highest Ofsted scores in Surrey
(Image: Grahame Larter)

4. Crime

According to data analysis website CrimeRate, the overall crime rate in Guildford was 70 crimes per 1,000 people in 2021, giving it a slightly higher rate than Woking’s 60 crimes per 1,000 people. Both were higher than the average crime rate across Surrey, which was only 49 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Guildford has the Surrey’s worst crime rate for drug-related offences, and is also worse than Woking for violent crime, anti-social behaviour and shoplifting. On the other hand, Woking has the most bicycle thefts of anywhere in the county and is also the worse of the two towns for burglary, robbery and vehicle crime.

Woking Police Station
Woking Police Station
(Image: Surrey Advertiser – Grahame Larter)

5. Arts and leisure

Both towns have plenty to offer to theatre-goers: the New Victoria and Rhoda McGaw theatres provide plenty to keep Woking residents entertained, while Guildford has the Yvonne Arnaud, Electric Theatre and G-Live – as well as its own Shakespeare company. Both towns also have decent multiplex cinemas for when you need to catch the latest blockbuster, and Woking can boast The Lightbox gallery while Guildford has a particularly strong live music scene.

Guildford Spectrum and Woking Leisure Centre both serve those who want to get active, and both have excellent leisure pools for when you just need to splash around. In terms of spectator sports, Woking has the superior football team but the Guildford Flames ice hockey team plays in the top league in the country for that sport.

Image of outside the Guildford Spectrum that has lots of activities including swimming, bowling, ice skating and a gym available.
The Guildford Spectrum is open seven days a week
(Image: Grahame Larter)

6. Scenery

On the face of it, Guildford arguably has the advantage here – its cobbled streets are quite a contrast to the modern makeover that Woking’s town centre has had in recent years, and many Guildford residents clearly like it that way. The River Wey weaves through Guildford, while Stoke Park is a great place for families and St Martha’s Hill is an easy hike a stone’s throw from the town centre. Guildford is also right at the edge of the Surrey Hills, putting its residents within a stone’s throw of some beautiful hiking and cycling routes.

That being said, Woking has plenty of green space going for it too and benefits from the Basingstoke Canal passing through the town. Horsell Common is one of several wonderful woodlands nearby, and Goldsworth Park Lake is also a beautiful place to spend some time on a nice day. Overall, Guildford and Woking can both claim with confidence to be easy on the eye.

Weekend Walks feature - Horsell Common Preservation society's Bedser Trail through the woods, a family and pushchair friendly walk across Horsell Common. GL
Explore wonderful woodlands at Horsell Common
(Image: Grahame Larter)

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