to move out of London and to Herts?

(54 Posts)
bodgerthebadger Thu 14-Nov-13 13:46:26

Hi, posting here due to volume of traffic as i really need some advice smile

We currently live in London in an area where the school situation is incredibly stressful. Basically, unless you live on top of the school (which we don't) or attend weekly mass for 3 years with a letter of support from the Parish priest, you won't get in. We would most likely get a place at one school but it was on Special Measures recently and, as a personal choice, I would prefer not to send my kids there. That leaves the private schools which, when we have no.2 on the way, makes me feel shock assuming our children would even get a place at all. I also work FT in a very stressful job, with long hours and private school fees (whilst just about affordable) would make me a slave to my job, which is not what I want (I'm the main breadwinner in our household). Getting into a decent state school would leave me with a few more options to reduce my working hours and spend some more quality time with my family. If that means moving out of London, an area that my OH and I love, then that's a compromise we're willing to make.

We love where we are but the school situation is proving to be so uncertain and stressful, that we are thinking of moving to Herts due to the convenient connections to Kings X (since we both work in London and this is that station that works best for us).

I would be extremely grateful for any advice on where best to think about in Herts. We have a fairly healthy budget and would like a 4 bed house. The main priority is to have a good selection of primary schools (state) and secondary schools (would consider private) where we would stand a decent chance of getting a place. We don't want to live in a busy town - somewhere with a village feel without being in the middle of nowhere and with decent facilities, family things to do, access to countryside etc would be ideal if we could get it. I know it sounds like we're asking for a lot but we wouldn't be able to afford to move again after this so we're seeing this as a house for life smile I don't expect to tick all the boxes but it would be good if we could tick most!

Harpenden and St Albans strikes me as the most obvious locations but housing stock is in short supply and, even with a healthy budget, seems a bit beyond our budget! We considered Berkhamsted and Hertford since we heard lovely things about these places but neither go direct to Kings X. We visited Stevenage, Letchworth and Hitchin but we don't feel that these places are for us.

If anyone has any suggestions of other places within or near Herts that we could add to the mix, I'd be extremely grateful!

Sorry for the long post and for posting this in AIBU.

Thanks! x

AugustaProdworthy Thu 14-Nov-13 13:47:54

Is Huntingdon a possibility? The station links to Kings Cross and is a popular town for commenting and the local school in HUntingdon (HInchingbrooke) is well thought of.

PestoPeachissimos Thu 14-Nov-13 13:54:41

Bodger, there are 2 stations in hertford, Hertford North is a direct fast line to Kings Cross.

Hertford East is a slower line into Liverpool Street.

PestoPeachissimos Thu 14-Nov-13 13:58:28

Digswell is on the same line, nice but pricey.
Another village on the same fast rail line is Bayford, or neighbouring village of Brickendon. Both nice. Welywn garden city or Old Welwyn perhaps?

CuChullain Thu 14-Nov-13 14:04:45

Watford Grammer School is a consistant performer and always well placed in the league tables. Watford itself is a bit of a shithole but just outside there are some lovely little towns and villages, all very twee and green!! Watford Junction to Euston takes about 20 mins. Quite a few decent private schools nearby as well, Merchant Taylors, The Royal Masonic School, York House, Haberdashers' Aske's, Immanuel College, Rudolf Steiner School (if you are bit of a hippy).

Here is a list of all independent schools in Herts:

fairylightsintheautumn Thu 14-Nov-13 14:13:26

do you want small town or village? If you'd like village life with just a pub and shop then there are loads to choose from. The FCC line from Bedford - London is awful at rushhour and there are no alternatives, wheras the FCC line that goes through Baldock, Hatfield etc is less horrific. If you go Watford way then you have the metropolitan line going out as far as Amersham.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Nov-13 14:30:24

There are some more reasonably priced outlying places from St Albans and Harpenden. Places like Sandridge, Park Street, London Colney, Redbourn...

daisychain01 Thu 14-Nov-13 14:40:07

Stevenage Ware and Hertford are affordable and are very conducive for bringing up a young family. Nice green areas and good rail connections. Plus shops and places to eat.

MummyPigsKnickers Thu 14-Nov-13 14:51:03

I was going to post about Berkhamsted as that's where we are. LOVE it here...and ticks all your boxes apart from the Kings Cross one. Big shame, this is a fantastic town and I am so glad we chose to come here for our life after London. The line goes straight into Euston in 30 mins though smile

bodgerthebadger Thu 14-Nov-13 15:16:39

Wow, thanks everyone for all the info. So helpful and lots to think about and lots of places to research. Fairy we don't want a town in the sense of congestion and it being heavily built up. That said, a village with just one pub or shop isn't what we're after either. Right now, we seem to have the best of both worlds. We live somewhere with a village and community feel but plenty of accessible shops, restaurants, cinema, facilities etc. My OH and I both know London extremely well but Herts not at all, which is why all this advice is so useful!

MummyPigsKnickers, I know! Berkhamsted ticked all the boxes until we saw the train line! I want to keep my commute to a minimum so even 10-15 mins each way makes a huge difference I feel when commuting daily.

Plan B is to start playing the lottery, since a lottery win would solve many of our problems (able to buy in a catchment area here or pay for school fees without having to worry about the cost!) grin

Foxeym Thu 14-Nov-13 15:28:49

I'm in hitchin, some lovely areas. My 2 DD's are at hitchin girls academy which is an excellent ex grammar school, heavily oversubscribed along with hitchin boys so well worth living in the catchment area!

Dawndonnaagain Thu 14-Nov-13 15:29:30

Ware is lovely, good schools, both primary and secondary. St Edmunds College offer good scholarships.

thegreylady Thu 14-Nov-13 15:31:54

Rickmansworth has some good areas too.My dss and family live in Chorleywood where the schools seem excellent but house prices are very high indeed.

elvisola Thu 14-Nov-13 15:43:50

I'm in Radlett, it has a similar feel to Berkhamsted but a much quicker commute. Two primary schools with great results and your still just about in catchment for good secondary/grammar schools.

We moved from North London to Knebworth 11 years ago. I didn't want to be in a town as such and Knebworth has fast trains into Kings X, so commuting times actually improved from when we lived in London! Has a few shops and excellent local primaries. Secondary schools are a little trickier if trying to avoid Stevenage. Is not a cutesy as Berkamsted, but does the job and is close enough to WGC and Stevenage for other facilities.

2goatytocare Thu 14-Nov-13 16:00:54

Kings Langley's nice

babybythesea Thu 14-Nov-13 16:09:16

I grew up in Potters Bar - there are a good selection of primary schools there and at least one good state secondary and a load of other secondarys within easy distance.
Close enough to the city that you can get in easily (10 minutes to Finsbury Park on a fast train).
Not sure what prices are like now though...

Rickmansworth is just outside of Watford and has a tube. Back in the day I went to St.Joan of Arc Catholic school there amd Ricky' was still a nice 'villagey' atmosphere. It's probably full of coffee shops and shabby shite I mean chic nowadays, but it has all the benefits of town living with good transport and plenty of lovely parklands around.

Watford was great too, especially around Croxley Green.

misdee Thu 14-Nov-13 17:06:08

Welwyn garden city has a good selection of primary and secondary schools. And fast trains to London kings x.

On that line, , welwyn north, hatfield, potters bar. Hatfield I would be errr cautious with, some parts are lovely, some not so.

2goatytocare Thu 14-Nov-13 17:06:46

Rickys lovely but Joan of Arc is oversubscribed

Undercoverme Thu 14-Nov-13 17:11:50

Check out campton, shillington, Gravenhurst, clophill - all beds villages with outstanding schools! Flitwick and are arlesey train stations direct into kings cross xxx

GrendelsMum Thu 14-Nov-13 17:12:40

A friend tells me that Royston is speedy and reliable into Kings Cross - apparently you can either live in town and cycle to the station, or live in a village and drive in.

You could have loads of fun turning these two cottages back into a house

happyyonisleepyyoni Thu 14-Nov-13 17:16:03

Baldock - 40 mins to kx, good schools, not crazy house prices.

NorthernShores Thu 14-Nov-13 17:17:09

Not quite what you're after but Ickenham is zone 6, has some lovely houses, a villagey feel and community (being neither Uxbridge (not so nice) or Ruislip (ok but very spread out). Also has green on the doorstep!

Both schools were brilliant and one even had preparation for private schools on its website when I looked! Quite a lot go private after primary.

Not nec what you're after, but some lovely houses, nice m/c area and I know a few people who moved out of london to the area.

maillotjaune Thu 14-Nov-13 17:24:17

Rickmansworth is nice (I went to JoA too) and it may be oversubscribed but people from this part of NW London still get in if they are practising so if you were in Rickmansworth you would be close enough wherever you lived.

It's not cheap though, and the Met line can be quick but frequently wastes hours of you life <bitter>

What is your maximum commute time? Cambridge has non stop fast trains to KingsX that take 50 mins. Dh does quite a lot of work on the train - emails and stuff.

arethereanyleftatall Thu 14-Nov-13 17:56:59

I know you've already crossed it off your list, but I live in Berkhamsted- its pretty much perfect for family life.

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 14-Nov-13 18:04:02

Or you could come out to Bucks - Amersham is at the end of the tube line, so you could get the met to Kings X

orangepudding Thu 14-Nov-13 18:08:19

WGC is a good place to live though 4 bed houses on the west side ( desirable part of town) are hard to find.

Topseyt Thu 14-Nov-13 18:15:22

Bishops Stortford isn't bad either. Close to the Herts/Essex border, but in Hertfordshire. Good transport connections, though I think most trains do go into Liverpool Street. A quick change at Tottenham Hale though gets you the Victoria line into Kings Cross.

It isn't far from us, although I am in Essex.

Jacksterbear Thu 14-Nov-13 18:26:01

Knebworth is lovely < waves at onelittleclara>: although not particularly picturesque, it's got a really nice community, it's a big village so more facilities than just a village shop, and a good commute into London (to KX in between 21 and 38 mins). Only problem is secondary schools, as has already been mentioned.

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 14-Nov-13 18:44:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ALittleStranger Thu 14-Nov-13 18:45:17

If schools are your motivator I'm a little confused. London schools are fantastic, truly, truly fantastic. Whereas Hertfordshire's comps are some of the worst in the country. Unless you have the money to move on top of one of the star schools in the county I'm not clear that you're really helping yourselves much.

Friends moved from Kilburn to Stevenage and from there to Welwyn Garden City and are very happy - one works in Hatfield and the other in Chiswick and the commutes are fine.

imofftolisdoonvarna Thu 14-Nov-13 19:29:58

What about cuffley? Lovely village, but with more than one shop, train station straight into kings cross, nice primary school an then you have goffs secondary school which is 'good'. Amazing houses there if you have the budget, but also lots of more realistic houses as well.

imofftolisdoonvarna Thu 14-Nov-13 19:31:23

I would totally avoid stevenage and the surrounding villages as unless you are catholic the secondary schools are pretty dire I think.

southeastastra Thu 14-Nov-13 19:33:15

hertfordshire's comps are the worst in the country??

i'd stay in london, hertfordshire is boring. grin i miss london so much. nothing to do in herts unless you are very loaded and like the boring mundanity of it all

imofftolisdoonvarna Thu 14-Nov-13 19:34:45

Whereas Hertfordshire's comps are some of the worst in the country.

Really? I'm not sure this is true of the whole of herts is it?

SparklyFucker Thu 14-Nov-13 19:35:58

What was it about Hitchin that you didn't like? Because on paper it ticks every single one of your boxes, and there are some really great areas in the town that are in catchment for the prestigious Boys and Girls schools. Avoid Stevenage at all costs, it's nasty, and Letchworth is rather 'cold' though has a couple of great independent schools.

ThePlEWhoLovedMe Thu 14-Nov-13 19:52:28

Have you considered Barnet / Potters bar ?? Great schools

averywoomummy Thu 14-Nov-13 20:00:45

Digswell or Welwyn Village or Lemsford are all lovely places with a village feel but within about 10/15 mins drive of a station that takes you into Kings Cross.

Old Hatfield is quite nice too but not so sure about schools there

Or Sandringham (I think near St Albans)

averywoomummy Thu 14-Nov-13 20:09:55

The secondary's are not amazing but not terrible either

And there is loads to do in Herts!

HairyGrotter Thu 14-Nov-13 20:56:28

I live in the mighty Albans, horrendously over priced, but there are plenty of places on the outskirts, depends if you want a walk to a station or a drive. Nice villages, like Wheathampstead or Sandridge dotted around

Herts is great wink

BonaDrag Thu 14-Nov-13 21:03:09

Kings Langley is lovely. I second the other poster. Trains to Euston.

CarolineKnappShappey Thu 14-Nov-13 22:11:43

What is your budget?

girlywhirly Fri 15-Nov-13 11:30:54

Be aware for your commute that village stations will have less choice of trains departing from and stopping at your station, than if you go from a town station. You will also have to factor in parking charges unless you are within walking distance of the station. Also consider how snow might affect your travel if stuck in a village and cannot drive to a station. (I suspect that you have been spoilt with plenty of travel options in London) Do not expect buses to run late at night to villages either, I used to live in Codicote (between Welwyn village and Hitchin) and the buses stopped early evening.

My next door neighbours moved to Hitchin from Knebworth because they wanted their DD's to go to the girls school, in Knebworth the secondary options were in Stevenage. Also he can walk to Hitchin station to commute now. A fast train from Kings Cross is around 30 mins to Hitchin and you have different options i.e. the Cambridge train or the Kings Lynn train or the Huntingdon train can all have stops at Hitchin.

I live in Hitchin and can walk into the town and to the station. Don't dismiss it just yet.

Damnautocorrect Fri 15-Nov-13 11:57:08

Goffs oak?
Barnet feels more like London now so if your wanting the greener life I think you need to move further out.
Loads of lovely places mentioned already
Rickmansworth lovely lovely lovely
So is Welwyn garden city, codicote, st Albans lovely but traffic central.
If you follow up the a1 there's lots of lovely places as that train line is brilliant and reliable.

thegreylady Fri 15-Nov-13 11:57:14

St Clement Dane's comp is one of the best in the country!

bodgerthebadger Fri 15-Nov-13 17:07:55

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. I have a lot more research to do I see and I can foresee spending a lot of weekends in Herts exploring. I love that I can count on Mumsnetters to come up with fab advice smile

fairylightsintheautumn Fri 15-Nov-13 17:13:58

East Herts is cheaper than West Herts. I would agree that Stevenage secondaries are not great but what you save on your mortgage compared to St Albans you could go private!! Its perfectly decent place to live, though nearby Knebworth or Datchworth are nicer. Generally Herts comps are perfectly ok and the ones in Harpenden are excellent.

LadyRabbit Fri 15-Nov-13 17:26:01

Where in London are your right now OP? Rather than leave London altogether, would you consider moving to an area where you might have a better choice of state school and not feel that private or a move out is the only answer?

newgirl Fri 15-Nov-13 17:43:11

What is your budget? If you have say 600k which is not beyond imagination for a l

newgirl Fri 15-Nov-13 17:44:42


London seller then you could buy a 3-4 bed house in St Albans or harpenden near outstanding secondaries and primaries. Prob not city centre but sounds like you ok with that anyway

bodgerthebadger Wed 27-Nov-13 15:13:04

Thanks again for all the suggestions. This has definitely given me food for thought.

If schools are your motivator I'm a little confused. London schools are fantastic, truly, truly fantastic. Whereas Hertfordshire's comps are some of the worst in the country. Unless you have the money to move on top of one of the star schools in the county I'm not clear that you're really helping yourselves much.

Some London schools are fantastic. Some are average. Some are not great at all. The issue with London is that if you want a fantastic state primary, then you need a huge wad of money to buy in the catchment area. With the budget we have, we are definitely unable to afford these areas. Where we are now, we could get into a fantastic school so long as we keep up weekly mass attendance for 3+ years. Even then, that means pinning all our hopes on one school and, even to buy where we are now, we've had to compromise massively on house size. The alternative is to pay for private at primary stage. The private schools in London are fantastic but then it boils down to the money issue again! I'm not sure I can afford the commitment with 2 kids!

Reason I am thinking about Herts (or outside London generally) is that our budget will go further and, hopefully, we'll have more choices with schools too.

Agree with the posters that London is great and tons of stuff to do! Will miss it tons but I will continue to work in London so I'm not going for good! OH and I love the City but also love the countryside and, to be honest, our social life has slowed down a lot these last couple of years anyway so I think giving up City living for more space is a compromise we feel we'd be happy to make. In an ideal world, we'd stay in London and have enough money to buy the house we want in the area we want and send our kids to the school we want smile

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