Funky town to live within about an hour from Reading

(139 Posts)
hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 09:22:43

Hello mums
We are moving back to the UK from a lovely place where kids are idolised, food is fresh and strangers are friendly and open minded. Is it an impossible dream to find something similar within about an hour's (probably train) commute from Reading, where DH will be working? We would probably like lots of organic food, a community minded place where different lifestyle choices are accepted, low crime and kid friendly. If it could be arty and with good schools too, so much the better. So far I have come up with Stroud. Am I right about Stroud? Is there anywhere else in any direction from Reading? We have a budget of around 400-550k for a 3-4 bedroom house, preferably nearer 400!
Thank you so much!

Doodledumdums Mon 20-May-13 10:13:06

Oh yes, Bristol is lovely too!

Bramshott Mon 20-May-13 10:14:17

I like Newbury - not that 'funky' perhaps but has a really nice, friendly feel, and lots of new shops in the redeveloped area.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:14:31

Great thanks everyone, I have Bath, Oxford and Stroud on my list so far. Cheltenham looks lovely too but it is a bit outside the 1 hr mark I think. DH wants to see the kids from time to time of course smile

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:15:16

Opps, sorry, and Bristol too. I will check out Newbury as well

MrsEricBana Mon 20-May-13 10:18:16

Not sure Bath is any more feral than Stroud!
I would say there will be drinkers and drug users in any town or city and I don't find it a problem here and is just urban life. I guess there are areas where you may not want to live but that would apply anywhere.
Re budget - no to big Georgian townhouse, yes to nice family house.

MrsEricBana Mon 20-May-13 10:18:51

I agree Bristol good too.

irregularegular Mon 20-May-13 10:19:30

I take it you wouldn't consider a village?

We live in a village less than 15 minutes by train from Reading (35 min to Oxford) and I could rave about it for hours....

Super friendly and lots of commuting time saved too.

LaRegina Mon 20-May-13 10:20:11

St Albans is good and has some very pretty areas - I don't live there but visit now and then smile

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 20-May-13 10:21:07

I want to know where you lived before!

[nosy]
[unhelpful]

MrsEricBana Mon 20-May-13 10:21:14

SIL lives in Caversham, which is on edge of Reading I think, and is very nice though perhaps not funky.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:21:22

Thanks MrsEricBana, yes, sorry, I am sure everywhere has its feral parts. What I am wondering is where we can go with our budget where we can avoid them. I've become a bit scared of my native country and my kids have been a bit sheltered. Mind you, I've probably just been unlucky with some of my impressions on trips back and read too many online papers!

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:24:13

Lady clarice we live in a town near Barcelona with an international community that's in to local, organic food, arts events, progressive education for kids, lots of town events for kids, beaches, beautiful weather etc. Really worried about ruining their childhood by bringing them back. But actually really want people to tell me I am nuts to be worried, and there are some fab places in England too smile

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:25:41

irregular yes, villages definitely OK if they are community minded without being 'exclusive'. For example I don't want to be shunned if I buy raw milk smile

NoRoomForMeInMyBed Mon 20-May-13 10:26:17

Windsor has lots to offer, its pretty, has lots of history, events and things going on, great schools and houseprices are good. Easy access to reading via slough on train or 20 mins on the M4. Funky? We think its pretty lovely!smile

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 20-May-13 10:27:51

Thanks for indulging me, OP!

I agree with the comments here that it's not so much about picking a town as picking a neighborhood. For example, my bit of London sounds a lot like the place in Spain you describe but obviously not all of London is the same. I'm sure there are suitable and not so suitable parts of all the towns on your list.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:29:39

Thanks noroom. Yes, I should define funky really. I guess I mean that it has an energetic community vibe, quite arty and friendly, a few nice oddballs perhaps, not too rough. A lot to ask, I know.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:30:57

What's your bit Ladyclarice? And is it also fairly safe and perhaps within our budget (holds breath)....

Runoutofideas Mon 20-May-13 10:31:16

Bristol has lots of very different areas. For the vibe you are looking for I would suggest Bishopston/Gloucester Rd area, St Andrews or St Werburghs.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:33:02

thanks runoutofideas I will check them out!

Runoutofideas Mon 20-May-13 10:40:47

I would go for something like this

Gloucester rd is well regarded as being full of independent little shops and has the feeling I think you are looking for. It has its own website

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 20-May-13 10:42:55

How about Henley? You'd have to change trains at Twyford, but it's quite a nice drive, and there are also buses. Henley is not cheap, mind. I grew up in this area, and my mother still lives there. I would go for a larger village near Reading, personally, within driving/cycling distance.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 10:46:06

ooh runoutofideas that does look nice, thank you. Schaden, are there any villages that would fit the bill for us?

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 20-May-13 10:47:59

I'll PM you, OP!

irregularegular Mon 20-May-13 10:50:55

House prices are 'good' in Windsor??? Really?

Anyway, if you are willing to consider a village near Reading I'll try to sell you Goring on Thames.

On the railway with good Oxford/Reading/London service, on the Thames, between the hills and woods. Beautiful but convenient.

Really good state schools for primary and secondary (and private too, if that's your bag)

Most people move here with babies and toddlers, often from London. Sometimes they have family links to the area but often not. There is NO sense of being an outsider, but there is a massive sense of community. Once people move here they usually stay. Everyone looks out for every one else.

As well as young families there are many older people who moved here with their families and stayed. Yes, they are quite conservative, but the culture among the younger people definitely isn't.

It's a smallish village - there's always going to be a limit to what's going on compared to a town, but for it's size there is a lot and you are within easy reach of Oxford and London. There are lots of people into music/art/sport and it shows.

Personally I think it is a perfect place for a young family. I've yet to see how it will shape up for teenagers, but the train should help.

It isn't cheap. You'll be at the higher end of your budget for a decent amount of space and you won't get picture postcard pretty. But if you're willing to buy a 60s/70s house that an old person is finally moving out of (for about 450-500) and spend some money extending/improving you'll get something pretty good.

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 20-May-13 10:53:10

Caversham might suit you, or maybe Maidenhead (but not villages - Caversham is a suburb of Reading and Maidenhead a smallish town). I would avoid Woodley, Bracknell, Earley (bits are nice, Lower Earley is Europe's biggest housing estate). I would avoid the Thameside villages - property is extortionate and they are very snobby (I grew up in one - I was the only girl at Guides who didn't go to a private school...)

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