St Albans - a nice place to live?

(93 Posts)
roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 08:57:54

Yippeeeeee we are moving house!

I'm v. excited (some may say obsessed - i.e. my dh) and starting to look at areas to move to, all in Herts or Bucks as that's where our familes are.

So does anyone know much about St Albans? We are looking to stay wherever we move to for the whole of our dcs' schooling so we are looking for primaries and secondaries. We are CofE christians and I would particularly like the dcs to go to church schools if poss - I had a look at the Townsend school website and really liked the look of its ethos. We haven't got a huge budget for the area (£250K) but there are houses on rightmove that fit into that price range (not many, admittedly).

So does anyone live in St Albans and vouch for it (or not?) What I'd really love is to give someone the names of streets with houses in our budget and for someone to tell me if they're reasonably nice areas or not. We don't live that far away so I'm planning on doing a drive around. We are also looking at other areas like Tring, Chesham, Berko, villages in between those places, Hemel (possibly but not convinced), and Rickmansworth (we used to live near there so still got friends and know the area).

TIA!

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 09:05:01

Or Wheathampstead?

all I know is taht I went to St Albans for work and thought it was one of the most lovely places I have visited 0- they had a lovely market where I bought some olives and Monsson had a sale and I bought a top.

Probably not what you are looking for but I for one would be overjoyed to live there.

princessmel Sat 03-Feb-07 09:24:40

I live there and I love it.

Abbey school is C of E but very hard to get into. Most of the good schools are actually. You need to be regular worshippers at the Abbey or the second way to get in is to be in the local, very tiny, expensive catchment area.

The town is nice and has good shops, cafes, market etc.

I've lived here all my life. We live on the outskirts now so not really walking distance to town centre. Its slightly cheaper on the edges.

chonky Sat 03-Feb-07 09:28:39

I lived there for a year and loathed it (sorry). We lived near Fishpool St, very quaint and pretty but desperately dull. However I expect that my feelings about it were influenced by my twice daily commute of 1.5hrs to Canary Wharf!

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 09:54:24

Thanks for that!

Chonky LOL at 'seperately dull'! Probably the rest of the places on our list are just as dull! (if not more so!)

Dimpledthighs the market is good.

Princessmel, could I pick your brains? There's a house on the market in Canberra Close - it looks a bit old-fashioned decor-wise but we could live with that. Do you know where that is?

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 09:56:17

oooh and also Princessmel, is Townsend very ovre-subscribed, do you know? The other schools look good as well - I did my teacher training at Hertfordshire uni so I got to know a lot of the local schools - did a bit of teaching practice at Sandringham. Beaument looks good too - do you know much about these schools?

alibubbles Sat 03-Feb-07 10:20:11

I have lived in St albans for 21 years. DD and Ds went to both state and private schools.

DH and Dd do a lot of work for local estate agents, viewing properties, DD loves it! I know it very well too, so ask away.

I have been a governor of 4 schools over the last 15 years. My minded children are at Abbey Cof E and one just got in, not on church electoral roll, not a sibling and not in the catchment, but lives on the doorstep of an undersirable school!

Townsend is not oversubcribed in the same way as all the others. If you put it as your ist choice, you would probably get it.

House prices are still on the up, we are buying another 1 bed flat to let and that is £200k, the 2 beds are £250k +

All the schools are good, mostly excellent, each offerd something unique, so every school is good for someone, so it is really personal choice.

Sandringham for Arts and Drama, Beaumont for languages, Francis Bacon for Maths & Science, STAGS is a business and Technology school ( old girl's grammar) but I loathe the place, so did DD, refused to go round it when in the door! ( I am there every week for something, so see quite a bit of it)

princessmel Sat 03-Feb-07 10:21:24

Hi, My children are only nursery age so not the best person to ask really.
My neighbour works at Beaument and says it also has a very small local catchment area. Unfortunatly the houses around it are pricey.

I'm trying find that street at the mo.

Our house was so old fashioned when we moved in but slowly its all getting done.

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 10:24:44

ooh than you for that!

Alibubbles you sound like an expert on schools!

Heres 'a link (hopefully) to the house in Canberra Close -

house

princessmel Sat 03-Feb-07 10:27:39

Ok, I think I've found the house on propertyfinder.com.
If I'm right then its over the Sandrigham side of town? And near to a few other secondary schools. You'd probably be in a few of the catchment areas there.

princessmel Sat 03-Feb-07 10:29:03

Yes thats the one. It said what I said really!!

fryalot Sat 03-Feb-07 10:33:11

I know that being a responsible parent, you are obviously more concerned about schools and St. Albans being a nice place to live, but.... for what it's worth..... It is the home of real ale, the home of camra, there are more pubs that sell decent beer in St. Albans than any other town in the country I think. I would LOVE to live there, but not sure how much time I would spend at home with the dcs!

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 10:33:30

Thank you! I might try and have a drive over there today. Altho our house is not on the market yet, so I'm just trying to get a general idea of what's available.

We are hoping to get our house on the market this month. We've been doing the whole big de-cluttering and house-doctoring thing!

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 10:35:15

Real ale Sqonk!

Well that clinches it then doesn't it? We'll have to move there!

fryalot Sat 03-Feb-07 10:38:44

and you know who to invite to the housewarming! (although I'll visit your new house first with kids, then I'll be in the pub round the corner, so perhaps not!!)

alibubbles Sat 03-Feb-07 10:38:59

Come and have a cup of tea, the place is a tip but you are more than welcome!

edam Sat 03-Feb-07 10:39:35

Don't go to Hemel if you've got a chance to live in St Albans. St A much nicer.

Wheathampstead can be dodgy in terms of choice of secondary school - if Harpenden schools are oversubscribed, children get dumped in less attractive St Albans schools. Big fuss last year when LEA messed up and left 60 Wheathampstead and south edges of Harpenden children with no secondary school place. I think they tried to fob them off with Francis Bacon which, according to the parents and the local paper, is not desirable (sorry Alibubbles). I'm no expert in St A schools though as I live in Harpenden.

roseylea Sat 03-Feb-07 10:40:52

Alibubbles I'd love to!

fortyplus Sat 03-Feb-07 10:42:24

Areas of Hemel are fine - just avoid the big ex council estates. John F Kennedy School is a Catholic School but open to other denominations - they were in the top 100 comprehensive schools for GCSE results inc English & Maths.
You would get a decent house for your money in Boxmoor or Apsley - both of which are local to the Hemel Hempstead School - also excellent. A friend of ours was Head of Maths at Townsend but sent his own children to Hemel School as he thought it was better.
Primary Schools - you want Two Waters, South Hill, Boxmoor or St George's. St Rose's has an excellent reputation but is a Catholic school & I don't know if other denominations get in.
Hemel also has a lower crime rate, or so I've been told.

MerryMarigold Sat 03-Feb-07 10:50:18

I was brought up in 'emel. St Albans is quite posh! (By comparison). Agree with all fortyplus has to say about areas and schools - you can still get something decent sized and not too pricey in Boxmoor (compared to St Albans), esp if you get something a bit modern. The Old Town and Piccotts End are also very nice places. My parents currently live in Tring which imo is very overpriced. We thought about buying there, but it is the same property prices as London (East London admittedly) and the commuting price in London was WAY over our budget. Also the primary schools were worse than in our area of Newham! Some areas of Tring aren't that great...I live in Newham and it is nicer than some parts of Tring and Hemel Hempstead, but I'm sure ALL parts of St Albans are nice.

Good Luck with the move - and hope you find somewhere.

fortyplus Sat 03-Feb-07 10:52:32

Yes - St Albans and Harpenden are lovely towns - Hemel is ugly by comparison. But it's fine as a place to live.

edam Sat 03-Feb-07 10:54:54

Hemel also suffers from a crazy roundabout in the very centre - it's a ring of roundabouts, like a roundabout doughnut. Scary!

alibubbles Sat 03-Feb-07 10:56:37

No offence Edam, FB over my dead body! BUT it is extremely good at getting top grade A levels in Maths and computing science, but then they do only have 4 pupils taking the subject. BTW I don't have an interest in FB. ( Mine went private)

Our local chines takeaways man's son went there and got 4 a's at `A Level and is at Imperial, London.

The pupils taking GCSE's when ready for them, and they are going to do the IB. new head, new uniform incl blazers, changes the school dramarically.

Rosylea, when are you coming? I know wher Canberra Close is, I cut through there to Stags and go the the Auction house near there.

KTeePee Sat 03-Feb-07 10:56:49

I would definitely recommend St A if you can afford to buy there! What ages are your children? You should have a very good chance of getting into Townsend if you are practising CofE. The other CofE primary is St Michaels which is possibly closer to Townsend than the Abbey.... Townsend is set at the end of a housing estate, most of which is ex-council so more affordable than other areas, not sure what it is like to live there....

I think Canberra Close is off Beech Road from the map and that is an ok area - popular with families wanting to send girls to STAGS.

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