help with relocation to Dulwich/W Norwood & thereabouts

(37 Posts)
Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 12:56:01

Hi all,

My DH has just accepted a job at one of the foundation schools around Dulwich. Our kids will be able to go to DUCKS and then (if they pass at 7+, which I hope but don't assume) to JAGS, Alleyn's or DC. They get a good staff discount which is why this is possible on a teaching salary!

Can anyone help me with where we should look to buy in the area? We are currently right at the edge of N London, in a really leafy suburban area which I like because it's friendly and feels very safe (though it's boringly monocultural and a massive commute for me into the West End - I won't miss that at all). South London is totally alien to me having been a North Londoner all my life, so I don't really know where to start. We had a look around at the weekend and obviously Dulwich Village is gorgeous - but the budget is around £600k so that's way out of reach. What are people's opinions of West Norwood/Tulse Hill/Sydenham? Any massive no-nos? Ideally we would keep the suburban leafiness and get a decent garden. And safe, friendly and walkable into school would be a bonus!

Really appreciate people's advice

thank you

lalalonglegs Mon 28-Jan-13 13:22:27

West Norwood is a bit mixed, adjoining it is West Dulwich and the bit where Park Hall Road meets South Croxted Road has lots of nice period houses (the larger ones of which have mainly been subdivided) with gardens and is quite village-y feeling. There is this house just north of your budget. You get better value in SE23 which is Forest Hill (it's also on the East London Line so kind of has a tube) but I don't know the area as well so can't pin point particular roads.

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 13:33:23

Wow - that's lovely - thank you. I've also seen a few 1960s houses near Sydenham Hill station which are cheaper and very close to the school. Do you know that area? Our concern is to be near people at a similar life stage (loads of people with primary age kids and up nearby where we are at the moment). Don't want to move into an area where many people our age are moving out of it. Thanks again.

lalalonglegs Mon 28-Jan-13 14:36:29

I did up a flat on Park Hall Rd last summer and my impression was that it was quite a family-friendly area with a lot of people piggy-backing on the facilities and clubs around Herne Hill and Dulwich Village. I know several people with young children who live in Forest Hill, I'm not as familiar with the Crystal Palace/Sydenham areas but I don't think you would struggle to find families with young children living around there (quite a few forced out of the naicer areas because they are paying the DC/JAGS/Alleyns fees...). All through West Dulwich/Sydenham Hill/Forest Hill there are a lot of small 1960s style estates - the one at Forest Hill is quite well known and desirable. I quite like the interiors of the ones that I have visited in West Dulwich (I used to know people in two of them years ago) but the gardens are tiny, patios really.

babydad Mon 28-Jan-13 14:38:09

Currently rent around the corner in Streatham Hill and looking to move to the West Norwood/West Dulwich borders myself.
West Norwood is definitely on the up (although it's never really been that down). There is a new Picturehoue Cinema, Leisure Centre & Swimming Pool planned in the next year to two years. If you want a villagey feel then look between West Norwood and West Dulwich north of the cemetery. The houses are nicer than south of the cemetery.

Also recommend Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park for the same reasons as the above poster. Forest Hill is definitley 'the new kid' on the scene for cool places to live and they both are on the London Overground, so links to Canary Wharf, City and North London are brilliant.

You will enjoy the added green spaces of South London and the fact you should get more for your money. I like to call it proper london, Ha.

Stokey38 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:46:54

How about Honor Oak or Forest Hill? Very leafy and 5 minutes from Dulwich but you get much more for your money. The high streets on both are a little run down at the moment but areas are really changing and great new things opening all the time. Brilliant new swimming pool in Forest Hill and rumours a foot that the Picture House group are opening a cinema here. I moved from Stoke Newington to Forest Hill 3 years ago and I was dreading it but we love it and so great for families.

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 14:49:11

Really helpful - thank you both. What about East Dulwich? It felt more urban to me, and houses we can afford are maybe smaller, but nice shops... Someone mentioned Streatham Hill - is that wise? Looks a bit cheaper but is it a bit rough around the edges? Will definitely check out Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park too.
I am generally really impressed by the area and how you can get close to the really nice bits much more easily than in North London - Hampstead and Highgate seem to have about a 2 mile affordability exclusion zone which is why we live practically on the M25 now!

I live in "rough round the edges" Streatham Hill!!! And I love it. We are just near the top end of Tooting Common - about 5 mins from Streatham Hill Station and about 10 mins from Balham. Several lovely primary schools on the doorstep (my 2 boys go to one of them and love it!). I have to say that it is a pretty middle class area. Not so sure about east of Streatham High Road (where people who need more space think about moving to)....but we walk to the cinema at night sometimes, and I always feel save.

I mean safe blush

By the way, we moved from leafy north suburbs too (Stanmore) which I found v dull (although I know many others think it is wonderful), and where we are is so much more interesting.

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 15:12:34

Fedupwithdeployment - totally with you. We're not all that far from Stanmore and it's so nice in lots of ways but we do find it really rather dull. Plus the distance from central London puts me off from going in with the kids so I feel they are missing out. S/SE London seems so much more central and buzzy.

boxoftricks Mon 28-Jan-13 15:16:33

I've lived in both Dulwich Village and Herne Hill and know the area well. I would look in Forest Hill, or what about East Dulwich?

It is!

We've been here for 18 months now, and not once do I regret the move. My commute is better, the children are happy (mind you they liked Stnamore too), and the people are so nice. We are now 17 mins from Victoria, but there is so much going on here, that I don't usually feel the need to go in at weekends! Lots of nice restaurants and bars etc (although we'd usually go to Balham not Streatham).

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 15:30:29

Really glad to hear you like it. It's a bit of a reverse move - from burbs into town - hence my nervousness about space. But from what you are saying it is worth it. DH currently obsessed with the numbers of independent bookshops in the area (where we are now = 0) which he feels is a really good sign that we will find fellow bookworms nearby!
Thanks again everyone.

Our house works much better than the (rented) one we had in Stanmore. The garden it tiny, but given we have the common about 200 m away, it isn't an issue. In fact it is a massive positive - we used to spend 2 hours at weekends doing gardening, and now we have a couple of square metres of astro!

I must check out the bookshops.

lalalonglegs Mon 28-Jan-13 16:15:48

Weirdly, there is an independent bookshop at junction of Park Hall Road and Thurlow Park Road as well as a boulangerie and a gastropub (weird because it is a pretty small parade of shops). You will definitely find anywhere in the SE's a lot groovier than Stanmore wink.

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 16:41:11

Boulangerie, gastropub AND an independent bookshop? We're there!

Does anyone know what the rental situation is? One plan is to rent for a bit to see what's what. Will I find a house in one of these nice areas you're mentioning for about £1800pcm? I hear the rental market is really busy right now and you have to be ruthless to get a look-in. I'd really prefer to buy if we can (lining landlords' pockets etc, more disruption to kids to move twice) but we made a mistake on our last move and it's really knocked our confidence.

Rhubarbgarden Mon 28-Jan-13 16:52:35

East Dulwich is great. Nice shops, pubs etc on Lordship Lane and more activities for kids than you can shake a stick at. Lovely community feel. £600K would buy you a nice three bed Victorian terrace. Take a look at the East Dulwich Forum to get a feel for the local vibe.

legalalien Mon 28-Jan-13 16:53:15

Also worth including gipsy hill as a search term if you're googling- it's next to west dulwich.

Given you're not trying to get into a state primary catchment area you could also look at east dulwich / peckham rye, where house prices are very much driven by school catchments.

Have you been onto yet? Lots of info about family activities on there when you get to that point. There are forums for west dulwich and herne hill as well but they are nowhere near as active.

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 17:00:29

Wow - amazing forum, thank you. When the time comes I will also need a nanny and that looks like a brilliant place to start. Quite tempted by East Dulwich too from what everyone is saying.
Thank you!

We did a lot of trips "down south" to look at you are in London already, I can't see the point of renting locally only to buy and move. I would suggest a few trips to look at the places mentioned above and focus on targetting agents once you know the areas.

We looked at Clapham, Balham, had a foray over to "East Clapham" (ie Brixton). We knew exactly what sort of house we wanted, and were in a position to offer (mortgage in place and biggish deposit ready) and move quickly.

We soon realised that our money in Balham would get us a 4 bed (attic already converted), whereas where we are, we technically have a 5 bed, with an attic still to convert (v unlikely to happen).

TuttoRhino Mon 28-Jan-13 18:09:30

You would get an amazing house in Forest Hill / Honour Oak for that sort of money, especially if you don't need to be in the catchment for a particular school. We're moving to Forest Hill shortly after looking in Brixton, West Norwood, Tulse Hill, Streatham Hill, Crystal Palace, etc. Our budget was quite a bit smaller but we've still managed to get a house I adore.

East Dulwich is nice but the money won't go as far. It is really easy to get to from Forest Hill / Honour Oak so I figure we'll get the benefits without having to pay the price tag.

legalalien Mon 28-Jan-13 18:21:24

The east dulwich side of camberwell is also worth a look.

BoraBora Mon 28-Jan-13 18:45:03

Come to Crystal Palace, we're lovely smile

Levantine Mon 28-Jan-13 18:46:47

Look in Forest Hill, Horniman side is nicest imo and also Sydenham Hill is lovely. Very green, lots of primary aged children

Sultanselephant Mon 28-Jan-13 19:22:06

We drove past the Horniman at the weekend and there was a stream of Phil and Teds around the entrance! It looks amazing - what a great local resource. So being near there would definitely be an advantage.

Crystal Palace looks brilliant too but if humanly possible we would stay in walking distance of Dulwich College -I appreciate that may be impossible on the budget but can only dream!

Thanks again everyone - you're being really helpful.

Levantine Mon 28-Jan-13 20:20:13

I would have thought you could walk to Dulwich College from Sydenham Hill, I would try to get one of the sixties houses there if I were in your position.

legalalien Tue 29-Jan-13 06:28:28

With Sydenham hill you'd just want to make sure youdidn't have a steep walk uphill at the end of the day ( bearing in mind you may want to consider cycling at some point).

I don't drive so walk and cycle everywhere locally, let me know if you need estimated school run times!

For the money, I agree with those who suggested west Dulwich/west norwood, you need to think in the medium term about ease of commute to the senior schools.

Fwiw I used to live in brockley so am familiar with forest hill and honor oak as well. An expert on the p4 bus route!

legalalien Tue 29-Jan-13 07:13:48

Something like this?

Or this (i quite like this one)

Depends how much outdoor space you need, there are lots of parks in this neck of the woods!

For a complete curve ball - no walking to school and no cute cafe at the end of the street, but a great hoyse for your money - there's always the catford conservation area. Someone i know is renting there at the moment and is finding the school run surprisingly convenient.

Look at this smile

<right had better get on with this school run thing>

I would suggest Crystal Palace too. I lived in West Norwood for a couple of years a year or so back, it's on the up as others have said but it is a bit gritty. Some poor kid was shot dead metres from my front door, rioters drove a car into one of the shops underneath our flat, and the local bank has closed because they've had something like six armed robberies in two years. Having said that, there is some lovely housing stock and there are a lot of creative/media types moving in. My money would still be on Palace though - so much more family-friendly. Herne Hill would be worth a look too.

Seminyak Tue 29-Jan-13 09:12:33

Another vote for Forest Hill, we had an offer accepted on a flat there this weekend and there are some lovely houses around Honor Oak Road and it's v quiet and leafy and hilly! Has a nice atmosphere.

twoterrors Wed 30-Jan-13 13:54:47

OP, if you are thinking about renting, then I would go for somewhere as central and close to DH school as possible - then you can work outwards. He may find he doesn't like meeting his pupils out and about enjoying themselves at the weekend smile.

West Dulwich, Herne Hill, East Dulwich, Streatham Hill are all lovely places to bring up a family, loads to do, good bookshops, cafes, fantastic parks (so you don't need a big garden - much more sociable this way!), so I'd just look at what your budget will get you and bus routes to those and other schools if relevant (so you can keep your options open for secondaries - your kids will thank you if they have a short bus journey with lots of friends). Personally, I think Tulse Hill and West Norwood have slightly less in their favour, but all these places are very close, and the local teenagers whizz around on the buses from one to another, and they all have good transport links. As they get older the fast links to central London make a difference too. If that doesn't work, then move out a little.

If you want to make friends in the area fast, I would prioritise being as near as possible to one of the big parks.

house in nice street off Streatham Hill, just about walkable to Dulwich College with direct bus as well

SunnyUpNorth Wed 30-Jan-13 20:12:57

Have only read about half the replies so apologies if I repeat.

I recently moved from Denmark hill up north to Manchester for various reasons. But I LOVED east dulwich. The forum is brilliant, there are tons of grea shops and cafes, a really great community feel and great transport links. I think it is a great place to move with young kids if you can afford it. The prices are getting a bit silly now. You could look at areas that border ED like west dulwich, Denmark hill, parts of Peckham, nunhead, forest hill and so on.

The forum really is a huge plus for the area, I made a few very good friends through it when I was pregnant as they organise meets up for people due at the same time. It is also great or finding local tradesman, buying/selling stuff, finding out about kids activities locally and so on.

Good luck and enjoy SE London, it's great!

sparklechops Fri 01-Feb-13 10:17:21

East Dulwich is great..if we could buy here we would! We moved down here from Stoke Newington and have never looked back. Lots of green space and things to do with the kids. You could get something good for your budget in E Dulwich.

bzzbee Fri 01-Feb-13 11:53:44

OP what is your budget and what size house do you need?

I live in the area and know Dulwich Village, East Dulwich, Herne Hill, Peckham Rye etc very well.

Dulwich Vilage = Very established, lovely, green, conservation area, great family homes and populated by families, but expensive. Near to all the schools you mention, very near Dulwich Park, Dulwich Picture Gallery. A small but nice strip of shops that include the local pub ("The Dog"), a few family friendly restaurants, convenience stores, hairdressers etc. Only a 10 minute walk to Lordship Lane so benefits from East Dulwich's coolness. 10-15 min walk from Herne Hill station. You'll struggle to find a family home for less than 1mm.

East Dulwich = much more urban and trendy, fantastic high street on Lordship Lane, loads of independent shops/bars/cafes. Extremely family friendly ("nappy valley"), however prices have rocketed recently and you won't find a 3/4 bed family home for under 600k. The houses tend to have quite small gardens (yards).

Herne Hill = Property cheaper than Dulwich Villlage but has a lot going for it. Adjacent to Brockwell Park. Great local shops/cafes/restaurants and a great Sunday market. Excellent transport links (rail) to central London. A bit more low-key than East Dulwich but has its own community feel which is more established (in my view) and quite nice. Probably less of a transient population, many families move out of ED when they outgrow their space and find they can't afford the prices for a bigger home. Herne Hill is very close to Jags/Alleyns.

West Dulwich - I don't know this area as well, but it's worth checking out as it's cheaper than Dulwich Village but is still fairly near your schools. Personally I prefer ED/Dul Vil or Herne Hill.

Peckham Rye - Quite urban like ED but great (better in my opinion) houses and gardens around the Bellenden Road area and extremely up and coming. Minutes from Lordship Lane, excellent transport. Not too far at all (~20 min walk down East Dulwich Grove) from Jags/Alleyns. Great bars/cafes etc, notably the Victoria, Montpelier plus numerous other places opening up on Belenden Road. A bit of a hike from Ducks though.

Sydenham Hill - much more suburban but if you work/teach locally it would be a very easy commute. Plus probably cheaper than all areas above.

You should consider what your back-up options are if you don't get into Jags/Alleyns as state schools are very over-subscribed and these two schools are highly sought after and hence selective with no guarantees of getting in (unless as a member of the teaching staff you get an advantage?).

Good luck with your move, it's a great area.

bzzbee Fri 01-Feb-13 11:57:36

Apologies I just re-read your thread where you state budget etc.

I would look at Herne Hill if I were you - direct train to Victoria/City if you need to travel into the west end every day.

West Dulwich is on the same line (but Herne Hill is much nicer in my opinion).

Look at postcode SE24.

Sultanselephant Fri 01-Feb-13 21:23:16

Thank you so much everyone! Loads of great ideas here and I really appreciate everyone's time. We've just heard that we will get a house at a subsidised rent with DH's job - they have a number of houses around the area I think (no idea how nice, or where we would be, but financially it makes brilliant sense as we can rent out the house in the burbs and save a bit for the move) so we've decided to take them up on it for a year or two while we get the measure of the area. We feel incredibly lucky to have this chance, and dead excited about it all.
Thanks again x

twoterrors Sun 03-Feb-13 09:39:39

That is excellent news. This is a great area for families (if you can crack the secondary school situation, but even that is getting better and it sounds like you may have other options anyway). You won't want to leave.

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