From Los Angeles, USA to Guildford, UK(6 Posts)
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I wanted to introduce myself. I'm Kimberly, and I'm new around here.
My husband recently accepted a position in Guildford. Currently, we---me, my husband, and our 5 year old daughter---are in Los Angeles, but we expect to be in Guildford (or perhaps someplace nearby?) within the next couple months. We're quite excited about the move. Though we've often traveled internationally, this will be the first time we've lived anywhere outside the United States.
Our first concern is identifying a place to live, and I would love some recommendations. Obviously, living in the catchment area for a good school is most important to us. In addition, we're hoping to live sans automobile---years of driving in Los Angeles has taken its toll---and instead rely on public transit and/or our feet to get around. We're also not opposed to living in a more rural setting, provided we're still close to a train that can take us into Guildford and are within walking distance of a town centre (<--- I think that's the first time I've ever spelled centre with the "r" before the "e"!).
Thank you so much,
If you don't want to use a car, I would strongly suggest living in Guildford itself. Guildford is a smallish country town, and the villages around are pretty rural with limited bus services. It is not like living in London with a great public transit system.
I would suggest looking towards to the centre of town to start with, although if you go for the South side you will be very very close to open countryside. You will not be able to apply to schools until you have an address here, and you will be offered a place at any school in the town that has room. You can express a preference, but class sizes for years R, 1 and 2 are capped at 30, and most schools operate with full classes. This is for both financial reasons and because there is a shortage of places for these age groups.
Year R takes kids in the September after their 4th birthday, and is the first year of schooling.
I would say no primary school in Guildford is bad, although they do vary and have different characters.
I would suggest having a good look at Guildford on Google Maps, to get a feel for how rural it is here (its not the wilds of Scotland but its certainly not Suburbia either).
There are plenty of American's in Guildford, and I am sure you will settle in well.
I agree with Mummytime. Sounds like Guildford would suit you best. It is a very easy place to live without a car as the centre is compact.
As you are moving from the USA I assume you will be renting. If you are interested in countryside then the best place to live in central Guildford close to the Downs. Miles of walking and ten/twenty walk into centre of Guildford.
Train to London in 30 minutes.
Good schools in central Guildford - holy trinity, Burnham, Boxgrove, Sandfield, St Thomas, St Nicholas. Guildford is quite transient so places are always coming up at schools. Should be fine.
Guildford is expensive but that is because it really ticks all the boxes.
Do you have a budget? Could point you in the direction of some houses on websites.
I doubt you will last long without a car tbh- yes the town centre is relatively compact but supermarkets, doctors, hospital, school, kids activities etc are likely to be beyond comfortable walking distance and public transport is not good and generally finishes after about 7pm (buses anyway). What happens if you get invited to someone's house of an evening, or soft play or other activity? I honestly don't know how anyone can deal with not having a car even if you don't use it every day (I used to live in central Guildford). You will also have to factor in that the rain is frequent and cold over here
Well we've only ever had one car and have survived fine in Guildford town centre (but I do usually have use of it). You can walk to the Spectrum. There is also a car club with cars in a town centre site, and lots of taxis (which is cheaper than running a car). Or a friend of mine used to use a Bike and trailer, with her older kids on Bikes, she transported 5 kids that way.
Bekabeech - if she is the lady I am thinking of, I used to have my heart in my throat overtaking her and her straggling brood (and the dog? Yes?) on the school run every morning. Scared the cr@p out of me every day. Am glad to hear she didn't just get mown down by Arriva.
Re: public transport - it's all about timing. The buses are a bit ropey, but OK at peak times. You'll be stuck on Sunday afternoons though if you end up in a village without a car. There are various train stations in the outlying villages (have a look at the Guildford end of the Guildford via Cobham line, for instance, or at Farncombe or Worplesdon) but some of those are only well served at peak times and some conversely not well served at peak times (because they are on express commuter lines so only stop at a handful of places in the rush hour).
Guildford is a very difficult place to search for a house remotely because it doesn't run in clearly defined "areas". It got bombed a fair bit in the war, so posh neighbourhoods, particularly close to the centre, can be cheek-by-jowl with relatively rough bits of housing estate that filled in the gaps later. You really (sorry) have to drive round to get a feel for it.
I'd go with the plan of starting out renting, close to the centre and a reasonably good school. And then spend a bit more time looking for your "forever" home once you have feet on the ground.