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We will shortly be moving back to the South of England after being in beautiful Edinburgh for four years. But we need to be back nearer the family in the Fleet area, but don't want to live there as the whole Guildford/Aldershot area is just too bland! Cheltenham looks nice on the web and seems to have a lot of the beauty we've become accustomed to (except the castle!).
If anyone has any experience of driving to Camberley/Aldershot/Guildford area from Cheltenham, how long does it really take? What routes did you use?
I would like any honest opinions about the area, any recommendations as well. We have a 18 month old DS, so schooling not an issue yet. Any ideas on a good area to rent in to discover the area would help?
Also DH will have a human science degree from Edinburgh, so any suggestions on big companies in the area would also be great.
Cheltenham is pretty and if you want a castle, there's always Sudeley near Winchcombe
Haven't driven to Guildford, but tend to drive past it on way to visit my own family near London, by doing the A417 to Swindon, M4 then cut across to M3 route. It I'd say it takes no more than 1 1/2 hours to do that bit if you don't get stuck in hideous traffic.
One thing I would say, if you like the buzz of a big city, Cheltenham isn't that but has all the big high street stores in town plus a good selection of pubs (and some scary 'local' ones!). Also, public transport is good in some parts but very patchy in others, if this is important to you, check which areas have good provision.
In terms of good areas to rent in, it depends on your budget . There's a good discussion on the different areas of Cheltenham in another thread, one thing I would say is that Charlton Kings, Prestbury and Leckhampton tend to be the most expensive areas to rent in and are on the edge of town, depending on how long you're planning to rent for you might want to consider elsewhere first. If you can get hold of one the Cheltenham Cycle Map is an excellent streetmap of Cheltenham and labels all the areas - it used to cost at most £1 too!
In terms of employment in the Cheltenham/Gloucester area, there's various insurance/banking companies (Endsleigh, Zurich, Lloyds) as well as technology firms, aviation, EDF Energy, Unilever, UCAS - plus it's 45 mins to Bristol/Birmingham on the train (I know several people who commute), I guess it depends what kind of thing he wants to do. The following wiki page sections on Cheltenham and Gloucester go into more detail.