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Anyone know anything about Hitchin?

(93 Posts)
sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 13:10:44

Hi everyone and happy Mother's Day! I am looking for some advice on Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

We currently live in SE London but can't afford to buy here and have been looking for the right place to move to for ages. We're keen to leave London for a more relaxed pace of life.

We have finally found somewhere we really like - Hitchin. It ticks so many boxes - affordable, easy commute for DH into London and good schools. When we went to look around the other week, we liked what we saw.

I'd love to hear from anyone who lives in Hitchin with a family to find out more - what's it really like? It seemed like a buzzy, friendly place when we were there and there were loads of young families around. There also seemed to be lots of groups for kids, from looking at notices in shops, Starbucks etc.

Does anyone know the Poets Estate? It's in our budget (250k max) so it's one of the places we're looking at. I would prefer one of the lovely Victorian terraces but they all seem to have downstairs bathrooms, which we're not keen on. Anyone live in one and find the downstairs bathroom thing ok?

We've also seen properties further out from the station - over a mile away - but aren't sure about being so far out. Does anyone commute into London and live a bit further away from Hitchin station? How do you find it?

Also keen to hear about nurseries/childminders you'd recommend. DD is one and we'd like to put her in childcare two days a week so I can work from home.

So....lots of questions. Any guidance and opinions gratefully received!

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 17:03:19

Honestly? Don't do it. We lived in Hitchin for two years and moved when dd was just a bit older than yours.
1. Two good schools, heavily oversubscribed. Several sink ones. we lived 150yards from one of the good ones. people who bought our house with a view to son starting their didnt get a place there or at the next nearest school. similar with nurseries.
2. Downstairs bathroom a pain. especially whrn vommitting 10+ times a day with ms.
3. I wouldnt have wanted to live on the poets
4. All style no substance. Yummy mummy heaven.

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 17:19:42

Aarrggh....really? Not what I wanted to hear but I appreciate your honesty, thanks.

I live in a very yummy mummy area so could handle that. I worry about the schools though. We heard it is near impossible to get in the good ones.

Any good bits of living there? I liked the sound of the community gardens. And everyone we chatted to seemed very friendly.

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 17:53:00

Also, why wouldn't you live on the Poets? I wasn't massively keen on it as it seemed a bit soulless but it seems to be the place to live for the best schools.

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:19:45

Honestly? Don't do it. We lived in Hitchin for two years and moved when dd was just a bit older than yours.
1. Two good schools, heavily oversubscribed. Several sink ones. we lived 150yards from one of the good ones. people who bought our house with a view to son starting their didnt get a place there or at the next nearest school. similar with nurseries.
2. Downstairs bathroom a pain. especially whrn vommitting 10+ times a day with ms.
3. I wouldnt have wanted to live on the poets
4. All style no substance. Yummy mummy heaven.

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:22:59

Hmm getting into any decent school unless youre s sibling is a challengr.
Halsays deli is lovely but no pushchair access really.
Good points: its easy to get out. i.e.quick trains to london but rarely a seat at rush hour.
More drug issues thsn youd expect.

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:24:08

Hmm just a touch rough.
There are no guarantees with schools in hitchin.
and dont even get me started on highbury lodge nursery....

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:25:22

Oughtonhead common is nice....
Hermitage road bar and restaurant too...
Lidobbut changing areas always filthy

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:26:27

But let me repeat: schools. one of the major reasons we left.....

pamplem0usse Sun 10-Mar-13 18:28:38

Samuel lucas now having a double intake though.... if you can afford to get v near youd probably be ok (you want the roads around oughtonhead way) prob c. 250 k for a two bed terrace with upstairs.bathroom. 400+ for anything else.

MrsJohnDeere Sun 10-Mar-13 18:31:34

Hitchin is great - come! Personally I prefer the villages outside to Hitchin itself. Lovely Waitrose. Lots going on for children. Easy to get to London (although we use Luton Airport Parkway much more than Hitchin station).

swampster Sun 10-Mar-13 18:34:17

I had a friend from near Hitchin many, many years ago. She told me: "Go to Hitchin, come back scratchin'" [helpful]

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:03:08

Ha ha, thanks swampster....very helpful!

pamplemousse thanks for the tip about schools. I liked some Oughtonhead properties (still set on a Victorian terrace if truth be told) but thought they were out as not near goods schools. But I will look into that area and Samuel Lucas.

As far as drugs and roughness go, anything will surely be preferable to some of the dodgy areas we looked around in London before deciding to move out of the city completely!

Mrsjohndeere I have heard the Waitrose is nice!

I don't drive. Is it ridiculous to think I can get about everywhere...into town etc on foot? I walk or bus it everywhere with the buggy in London. What is public transport like? I don't want to feel trapped. That is one of my main concerns about moving to a small town.

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:06:51

Pamplemousse do you mind sharing what is wrong with Highbury Lodge Nursery? Bad or just over subscribed?

MrsJohnDeere Sun 10-Mar-13 19:08:43

No idea about public transport, I'm afraid. We're outside Hitchin and it is pretty much non-existent for us.

It is a tiny town so is easily walkable.

I'm not keen on the area around the station, but I don't know it well so it isn't fair to comment too much.

Never been aware of drugs or roughness, but I've rarely been there in the evening. I imagine it is far, far less of a problem than in Stevenage, Letchworth, Luton, but that's just a hunch.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 10-Mar-13 19:12:23
sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:16:28

Thanks Olivia. I did post on there but no one replied....figured everyone was too busy living it up in Hitchin to be online!

pinkteddy Sun 10-Mar-13 19:25:32

My MIL lives in a village not far from Hitchin and gets the bus/train everywhere. She doesn't drive and manages fine. However, the buses are not that frequent. The trains are very frequent and its a good service but you will find fares expensive compared to London travel. I've never heard of a drug problem but then again MIL wouldn't be hanging around on a Saturday night! I can probably find out more about the schools if no one else posts, it might take me a day or two.

determinedma Sun 10-Mar-13 19:28:04

Don't know anything about it now but I was born there so it must be nice!

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:34:31

pinkteddy - we wouldn't be hanging around the town centre on a Saturday night either. Then again, our DD might be - in 15 years time....argh! Ok, going to try not to get too ahead of myself and just concentrate on primary schools for now...

Any info you can get on the schools would be great. Thanks so much.

We've worked out that the higher cost of commuting is cancelled out by the lower cost of housing. We simply cannot afford to buy in a nice area in London. And, weirdly, it actually only adds ten minutes onto DH's commute so it seems to make sense.

Terrified of leaving London, if I'm honest, but I hear there is life outside the M25 so I reckon we'll live.

TattyCatty Sun 10-Mar-13 19:35:49

Very surprised to see such negative views on Hitchin! We've lived here for over 11 years, and think it's a wonderful place to bring up a family. Yes, it can be difficult to get into some of the schools, but that's mainly due to the fact that they are mostly pretty small with single form entry, so obviously only a finite number of pupils that they can accommodate. As was mentioned earlier, Samuel Lucas is due to double in size in the coming years, so depending on the age of your children, this may alleviate some of your concerns, particularly if you are set on a period property in the West / North of town. They are also plans to open a Free School to the North of the town, although nothing approved as yet.

£250k won't buy you a huge house in Hitchin, but if you're prepared to wait they can come up. We sold our last house (1970s 3 bed semi) for that figure a couple of years ago, and that was round the corner from William Ransom School, and smaller 3 bed terraces in the same area go for less. You can probably pick up a period property for that amount, and they can be lovely (with enormous gardens), but the downstairs bathroom is a right royal pain!

Lots and lots of baby and toddler groups, and a lovely town centre with plenty of coffee shops etc, and still a fair few independent shops. Not being able to drive won't be an issue at all - I have friends who are in the same boat, and manage just fine.

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:46:13

Thanks TattyCatty, that is really reassuring. Great news about Samuel Lucas school expanding. DD is only one so it's not an immediate concern but we don't want to buy somewhere and then realise we're in the wrong part of town.

So did you live on the bit classed as the Poets Estate? What is it like? When we visited, it seemed really quiet and a bit soulless maybe? Have I got it completely wrong about that area?

Would prefer a period house though - don't really mind if it's small. If we have another DC, they can share for a couple of years. It's just those flipping downstairs bathrooms. I wouldn't mind if they weren't all straight off the kitchens..it reminds me of my student days living in shared houses - not something I really want to return to.

Anyone got a downstairs bathroom and love it for some reason? Please speak up so I can think more positively about them!

I am just looking at photos of Oughtonhead Common - it's beautiful. I cannot believe we didn't explore that bit of town when we went visited a few weeks back. Think we need another visit.

TattyCatty Sun 10-Mar-13 19:51:52

No, didn't live on the Poets - we were on the 1970s estate at the top of Wymondley Road. We now live close to the Poets, and you're right - it's soulless but otherwise, fairly harmless. Think that some parts are better than other, as it's a mix of private and social housing, but we have friends that llive 0there and are happy enough.

Although this side of town might seem like more of a hike to the station / into town, there are lots of footpaths and we can walk to the station in less than 10 mins, and town in around 15.

Lots of the Victorian terraces have had their 3rd bedroom converted into a bathroom - the 3rd room is generally "en suite" to one of the other bedrooms anyway (if you see what I mean), which also puts some people off anyway.

sparklechops Sun 10-Mar-13 19:57:52

Thanks TattyCatty - hope you aren't offended by my description of the Poets. It had been a long day by the time we walked around there and DD was screaming in the buggy so I think our view was tainted by that too.

The houses themselves seem lovely inside - well, the ones we've seen online anyway.

Definitely going to come back up for another look around.

We noticed a lot of wedding type shops in town - loads of mother-of-the-bride outfits in the shop windows! Do a lot of people come to Hitchin to get married, on account of the name?! The church is beautiful and the Priory looked gorgeous too, if very expensive.

We are already married so not really important - just interested!

TattyCatty Sun 10-Mar-13 20:08:58

Not offended at all - think it's a pretty accurate description. We're on the more modern estate across the main road from it though - 'tis lovely!

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