Anyone know Reading?

(88 Posts)
FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 10:28:40

Hello,

We're looking a buy and are considering Reading - we need to be commutable to London and Reading is close ish to family as well. But we don't know the town at all so would be grateful for opinions.

We currently live in a small town and it's too quiet for us so we would be looking to live in Reading itself and not surrounding villages. I've heard Caversham is nice but know nothing about any other areas. We have about 250k to spend and want a 3 bed house.

I know there is a grammar school for girls - is it hard to get into?

Any advice at all would be much appreciated because it's a bit of a stab in the dark for us, and we're having to move quicker than we would like after our landlord announced he is selling up (see other thread!).

Thanks in advance.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 10:46:52

I live in woodley, which is a fairly mixed area, it has good links to the train station and the m4 to be easily commutable to London (you can catch a direct train to Waterloo from Winnersh or Early both less than 5 minutes away, or catch train to Reading for fast train to Paddington, or drive to twyford less than ten minutes away and catch the slightly slower train to Paddington)

You would be able to buy a 3 bed house for £250k, there is a lack of older houses in woodley so would be mainly new builds or 70'/80's. We have a large shopping precinct with Waitrose, Iceland and Lidl in, as well as newsagents, fabric shop, book shop, card shop, robert dyas, clarks and cargo.

Woodley comes under Wokingham Borough and has some fab schools. The girls grammar school is Kendrick and that covers a huge area and so is very competitive to get into, so you'd have to do a lot more research to see if your dd was likely to get a place or not.

To the other side of woodley you have Winnersh and Wokingham, again some very good schools, but some dodogy areas and £250k in those areas is likely to put you in the less desirable parts (a quick look on rightmove confirmed this). Wokingham has a town centre with supermarkets, clothing shops etc in but is bit run down at the moment, which is very surprising when you look at the housing. Again good links for London.

The other side of Woodley is Earley, Earley is a nice area, a few parks and again good schools as comes under Wokingham council. Some shopping, a large asda and a small precinct with pet shop newsagent, post office and take away. My parents are in Earley and I was born and raised there, its a bit more expensive than Woodley though hence us moving to Woodley for a larger house. Lower Earley is all newly built (well since 1980's and they keep adding) so you'd still get the school catchment areas but its a much more densley populated area than Earley, Woodley and Winnersh.

When i first moved back to Reading we lived in Whitley for a while, never again. We were broken into three times nd car stolen/broken into. the schools werent great, but it may have changed in the last 13 years.

Tbh i don't think Caversham is all is made out to be, the schools arent very good and the housing expensive. They also have a large less desirbale areas, but for me it was the lack of good schools that put us off moving that way.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 11:00:25

Thank you daisydoo, lots to think about there! I think ideally we'd be a walk/cycle ride from Reading station because otherwise dh's commute gets too long. Is that doable do you think on our budget and to be in a good area?

I had heard wokingham schools were good but it's a bit disheartening that our budget will only buy us something in a rough area.

Lilymaid Tue 16-Apr-13 11:07:23

Also possible to commute to London from Tilehurst (which has its own station) - I did this for several years. No longer in that area, but know that house prices are pretty high there for not a lot! I would imagine that Caversham prices would be even higher.

I think you need to come and walk around the place to get a feel of it. I know people who comute to the Royal Berkshire Hospital which is in the university district and use the train. It is a decent 15-20 minute walk from train to hospital which is on the London Road but doable on all but the wettest days and then there is a bus. The Oracle Shopping Centre is brilliant and is credited with putting house prices up as Reading has become more desireable than it was 20 years ago.

When I lived there Reading Borough Schools were perceived by the mummy mafia as being less good than the Wokingham Borough ones with the exception of the grammers. Kendrick Girls is super selective and girls who are very bright and thrive on the hot house atmosphere do well. It does not suit everyone. When we lived in Berks Maiden Erleigh was the secondary school of choice and houses in the catchment area were going for daft prices but that may have changed as it was a while ago.

If you can get out to Woodley, Earley and Lower Earley you get more choice of property and there are branch lines out there but that might make the commute harder.

MinimalistMommi Tue 16-Apr-13 11:35:49

I lived in Reading for five years, I think the area directly around the university is nice and then of course you can walk straight into town/station. I guess there will be lots of student housing around I suppose.

I wouldn't say Reading town itself is the prettiest place but its great to be close to London.

I used to hop on the train regularly when I lived there.

I also don't think it's the safest place to walk around after dark either but that's just common sense.

The Oracle is great, I was there when it was all built. Lovely cinema complex, places to eat etc.

West Reading is possibly a cheaper area to live? The red light district used to be near the railway bridge and the Lidl supermarket there.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 12:36:08

my neighbours cycle to reading train station each day, he said its about 15-20 minutes?

there are areas within Wokingham Borough that you will be able to buy that aren't in rough areas, sorry if i gave that impression of the whole of the borough.

www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-41022698.html this house is caversham and walkable to reading train station, 5-10 minutes, over the bridge. I'm not sure what secondary school that would come under but rightmove do have clickable links so that you can check them out.

My main concern if you moved to the university/cemetry junction areas would be the choice of secondary school. The ares are fine, densley housed mainly victorian terraces (good for sizes though, huge rooms etc), but Bulmershe would be your nearest school, which is not the catchment as its a wokingham school but populated by mainly non wokingham residents. It doesnt have a good reputation locally, but is supposed to be improving.

if you can i would highly recommend coming to Reading and checking out the surrounding areas and the suburbs where you think you might be interested in buying.

Could you consider renting in the short term so that you can get a feel of if an area is for you before comitting to purchasing?

schobe Tue 16-Apr-13 12:39:20

Aldermaston worth considering - train to Reading station takes about as long as walking/cycling/bussing to station from outskirts of Reading. It's very quiet though, but easy to get to Reading, Thatcham or Newbury.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 12:40:21

this one is in Woodley and a few minutes walk to Earley train station which is 3 minutes to reading main station.
www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-26463063.html

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 13:35:18

Thank you everyone, really useful.

The thing is, we moved from London to the small ish town we currently live in a year ago. It's FAR to quiet for us and I hate the fact that I rely on the car and that public transport is so rubbish. In an ideal world we would live in London, I love it there, but it's just too expensive.

So what we're really looking for is somewhere where we are within walking distance of shops/restaurants etc, because living in a village/suburb just doesn't work for us. I know that makes it a bit awkward.

We're planning to get to Reading asap and have a look around.

If we did decide to look at Caversham, any idea which schools/areas are good? And which are definitely not!

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 14:53:16

the house i linked to is a ten minute walk into reading town centre from caversham or a ten minute walk the other way into caversham centre. Caversham has some nice restaurants, a few coffee shops and the usual charity shops, but as its so close to reading town centre if you needed clarks for chool shoes or john lewis for towels say, thats as quick a walk in the other direction. the downside is that its terraced housing with no allocated parking. But older houses are good in that the rooms are usually spacious.
I used to be a midwife based in one of the caversham surgeries, so have done lots of home visits there. the houses around the linked one have a wide range of occupants, but majority working family types. I should imagine a fair few commuters as well as its such a quick walk to the station.

schobe Tue 16-Apr-13 18:07:20

Hmmmm - I lived in Reading and London and then Reading again later.

I think if London is what you liked, then Reading could be a big mistake tbh. Agree with going to have a look for yourselves.

I never liked Caversham much, not least because there were only 2 bottlenecks roads for getting into town - nightmare in rush hours, but ok if you cycle I guess. Plus they may well have built more roads, this was some time ago.

thegraduand Tue 16-Apr-13 20:34:30

I lived in Reading for 10 years, had to move away last year. I really liked Caversham, village-y feel, but close to Reading. Traffic was bad in rush hr, but traffic is bad all over Reading in rush hour. School places can be problem in Caversham, living in catchment is no guarantee of a place, you need to live near the school. But the good schools are Caversham Heights, Emmer Green and The Hill. Of the other two, I think Micklands is meant to be better than Thameside.

You should be able to get a 3 bed for £250k, but probably not with a big garden.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 10:43:25

Oh dear Schrobe, that sounds ominous, can you elaborate on why it would be a big mistake? I'm not bothered about the traffic - we don't use a car that much anyway. I love London but can no way afford it and am currently living in a small town in Herts which I find pretty boring tbh.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 11:12:13

I agree with Shobe. We moved from London to Reading a few years ago and went back to London after 18 months. Reading's OK but its no subsitute for London. Its got a kind of small town attitude so if you're a bit different its can be a bit horrible, I was so relieved to be back in London so I could speak without everyone commenting on my accent. Its got a lot of the problems of city living like traffic and highish cost of living with not a lot of the benefits. Also the Reading festival is on every year quite close to the centre of town and is a giant pain in the arse.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 11:17:55

The other thing is if you are planning to live in Caversham if you want to walk into the station one of only two bridges across the river goes through a park and an area without many houses. I worked shifts and found this really intimidating in the dark, the buses aren't great and the other bridge was too far away to make it worth it. However, in the light it was easily the most beautiful travel into work I've ever had.

daisydoodoo Wed 17-Apr-13 11:25:44

reading festival only a pain if you live in caversham or near the town centre and hast really just becasue in the morning there are lots of people wondering to the shops for coffee and to the charity shops to replace stolen/wet sleeping bags (my sister works in one of them), and the traffic the day they come in and the day they go home, but its a bank holiday weekend and a lot of people go away then anyway. Most of the time they are on site.

Schobe is right there are two main bridges to get to Caversham from Reading and vice versa, there are other ways to get into Caversham by car such as oxford way, henley and sonning. But if coming from Reading town centre then yes you need to cross the bridges, obviously by foot or by bike this isn't a problem, its just by car its stop start traffic, but if you've lived in London you may be used to that in rush hour anyway.

There are lots of commuter villages in the surrouding areas of Reading where its easy to get to London, especially if dh is prepared to add another 10-15 minutes to his journey each day. Reading is expensive it always has been though as is always been a commuter town and lots of it companies based here so employment levels are good.

Definatley advise coming to have a look and see if you like the town centre/caversham etc before totally dismissing it. find a good estate agent whos prepared to show you commuter routes as well?

MrsJamin Wed 17-Apr-13 12:33:46

Not sure what Shrobe means. West reading is really similar to London, diverse, everything on your doorstep, never boring! Never find the festival weekend a problem really, we go away then and within a day you would hardly know it happened.

I agree with MrsJamin. Have never found the festival a problem unless you want to go into Caversham that particular weekend but its easy to avoid it. I live in West Reading. I like it here, except for the school places stress. Lots of shops, a fab park, beautiful library, good bus routes (and actually now they've started doing reasonable fares - £5 on a weekend/school holiday/bank holiday will give a days unlimited travel for up to four people which finally makes it a viable alternative to driving).

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 13:43:04

When you say West Reading, do you mean the area around West Reading station? Sorry if that is an obvious question!

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 14:03:02

Caversham is really convenient for commuting - a 15-20 minute walk to the station. It's also great for families with loads to do. As for schools, opinion is very mixed. Caversham Primary has a great reputation, but is hideously oversubscribed and you will pay around £50k extra for a property in catchment with no guarantee of a place. Thameside has a poor reputation, but most parents with children there are really positive about it. The school has a new head who is making some really positive changes and I know many parents who have selected above schools with much better OFSTEDs. Most areas of Caversham are lovely, but I would avoid the Amersham Road area. By day it seems lovely, but it can turn a bit wild after nightfall. Festival is one bank holiday weekend a year and really is no bother at all.

Southcote, Tilehurst and West Reading are all good areas to look at, and you'll get much more for your money.

Primary school allocations were announced yesterday - that should give you a good picture about which schools are over and undersubscribed www.reading.gov.uk/documents/education/admissions/25087/CommunitySchooltable20138-4-13.pdf

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 17-Apr-13 14:16:05

I live in the area - small sleepy village so not your thing wink I just avoid the area during festival and marathon. If you need to get across to the other side at this time you can always go via Sonning.

There are beautiful houses in Caversham heights - I lust on my way through often. Probably quite pricey and as mentioned you have to go across Caversham Bridge to get into central Reading. I see loads of cyclists using this route.

Lower Earley is nice, some lovely houses in that area and I have also always had a soft spot for Woodley.

Reading is a nice medium size town, no its not London but then London is readily accessible.

There are definate good and bad areas - personally I woudnt fancy Cemetry Junction and would think twice over which areas in the University area I considered (even though some of the houses are beautiful!)

Any chance you could stay in the area for a few days and have a mooch about?

FruitSalad, to me West Reading stretches quite far and wide, but yes I do live close to the station - well a ten minute walk. I would not want to live closer than this though. I am in catchment (meaningless though that is) of both an outstanding primary and one in special measures. My DC goes to a 'good' school though that is further away (because I lived closer when applying, didn't plan to move). So it's quite a mixed area. Happy to answer any questions about this side of town and I'm sure MrsJamin will too, I think she is pretty close to me and we've unknowingly frequented the same toddler group!

Actually I say I wouldn't want to live closer to that station than this, that's not quite true, it's just so varied. I'm very picky about which roads I would or would not consider. Lots of factors, house type, accessibility, parking etc.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 16:57:10

Gah, I'm confused! We're going to come at the weekend and have a look I think. Too much to think about otherwise.

Tried to make some appointments for viewings in Caversham but they had all gone! Weird.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 17-Apr-13 17:14:32

I live between the centre and Reading West station, and have been here for nearly 13 years. Grew up in London, then lived in Oxford for a long time. I like Reading actually - it's not fancy but there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here if you poke about.

West Reading's not for everyone, but your money will go quite far smile I love it being 5 minutes walk to town, and my kids being able to go round to the swimming pool or the parks by themselves as they're so close.

Can't help with primary schools as I home edded then, but I have kids at the grammars (yes, competitive!) and one who goes over to Woodley to school as I'm not completely convinced by the secondaries over this side.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 17-Apr-13 17:16:08

Oh, and I like the festival - if the wind's in the right direction I can sit in my garden and listen to it :-)

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 17:44:19

That's why I didn't like it, Atia. To be fair I did seem to be the only person in Reading who was bothered by it.
Its actually quite a nice town, but, like everywhere else, if you're going to live there it has to suit you and it didn't suit me.

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 17:46:41

Oh yes, affordable family homes in Caversham get snapped up in days.

If you feel like a project there's a Victorian/Edwardian semi on Priory Avenue going cheap. Those houses go for around £360k when fully modernised. Could be an option.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 17:49:19

yeah, I saw that one - it's open house only because they've had so much interest. And offers already so think it might be beyond our tight budget. Shame, because I thought it could be perfect when I saw it.

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 17-Apr-13 18:47:04

I hate to say it but that will probably go to a developer.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 19:05:42

I hope not, it would a great project for a family. As soon as I saw that one I could see us living in it for years. Alas, not to be!

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 19:10:57

Keep an eye on it and let the estate agent know how interested you are. A similar house a couple of streets away in a similar condition came back onto the market twice. You never know, you could be lucky.

lightrain Wed 17-Apr-13 19:16:35

Try the area around Castle Street and Russell Street (West Reading). Very short walk into town, with nice bars and restaurants on your doorstep in the oracle, etc. Should be plenty of 3 bed terraces in our price range - Victorian, fair size (not huge but certainly not tiny). I don't think you will want to be in earley/ Wokingham/ Woodley area from your description tbh - sounds like you are after more of a city feel than residential area feel, short walk from the centre. Lower earley especially is pretty much a huge housing estate and the buses into town are not brilliant on an evening.

schobe Thu 18-Apr-13 10:08:29

Sorry, didn't mean to sound so ominous with the 'mistake' comment.

But I lived in London and Reading and they're just different - naturally so as one is so much smaller than the other. But depending on what aspects and what areas of London you liked, you may love it!

Somebody mentioned Castle Street/Russell Street area and, yes, I've lived there too (god I've lived bloody everywhere) and agree that sounds like it might fit the bill well. Don't know about schools round there as was childless at the time. Did teach in Tilehurst though but a long time ago - schools were very mixed there.

I would perhaps PM some people on this thread who live there currently and see if you can wheedle some more local info from them!

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 10:21:34

There is a house there which looks interesting. Puts us in catchment for Coley Road school though which doesn't look amazing, although last ofsted was 2009. Anyone know it?

daisydoodoo Thu 18-Apr-13 13:43:29

now coley makes me go a bit cat bum faced. Going to sound like a huge snob, but there are huge high rise flats there that a lot are used for temporary accomadation. I base my feelings towards the area on quite a few years ago now, as a late teen my friends family were moved into thier (house reposessed) and they had countless episodes of trouble. In the end they sent my friend to live with relatives in Whitley as they didnt feel she was safe in Coley. Thats such a shame as the area by the park has some lovely older houses, and i should imagine good prices.

Maybe someone else who lives there can confirm that the area has improved/the homes outside of the estate are fine?

You say that you loved living in london, but the areas are so diverse, its hard to tell what it is that you long for in a suburban area. My friend moved from Notting Hill to Woodley about 8 years ago and she doesnt miss London at all, but she still visits regualrly for Gallery openings, and other social events as thats the field she works in, so perhaps she has the best of both worlds? A short hop to the centre, but gets to come home and enjoy the quieter pace of a non city suburb?

Reloacting is so difficult, I don't envy you. I used to live in York, was so hard to avoid the 'dodgy' areas if you didn't know the area well, and was just as expensive s Reading anyway.

nancerama Thu 18-Apr-13 13:49:47

Friends who live in Coley catchment all claim that the money they save by buying a period property in that area is quickly swallowed up by private school fees. Sorry hmm

Wibblytummy Thu 18-Apr-13 13:51:38

I live in Caversham and can honestly say I love it. We were considering moving out of the area pre-children but since having my DS, we don't want to be anywhere else. There are heaps of children's centres, churches and libraries with groups and activities for barely a £1 each. There are some lovely restaurants/cafes (if you do pop for a visit, the Alto Lounge has a great family atmosphere and My Ala Carte is some of the yummiest food about) but if you want more choice we just amble the 15 minute walk over the bridge and in to Reading town centre. The Caversham village has all we need for walks and buggy trips out, post office, good library, plenty of doctors/dentists, Waitrose, Iceland and coffee shops. There's a sweet children's toy/book store etc. The schools are actually very good as well but highly competitive. Most parents fight to get in Caversham Primary with it's outstanding OFSTED but Thameside is due to have another OFSTED review later this year and is expected to go up in score. We personally avoided anything in the Micklands catchment as we're just in the process of leaving the more undesirable side of town (bought unknowingly back in 2006) to the centre and all the kids from this estate go there. The senior Highdown is an academy and is getting some very high reviews over the last few years. Having just bought here though, the houses are very competitive, especially in the 250k to 350k region. By the time they are on Rightmove they are usually already snapped up. If you do like it here, register with the agents on your visit (there's more than several as it's such a healthy estate trade here) and explain, they are fab at getting on the phone the minute they think they have something suitable. The festival is no bother at all, actually the town has a lovely atmosphere when it's on. The only days that are a pain are the night before it starts when the entire of Reading is full of cars dropping kids off there and the same on the afternoon when it's finished. They are usually on sight or in the local Aldi buying crates of pot noodles, to not be bothered walking in to Caversham.

We had the option to buy a wonderful house in the Coley Park Catchment but talking to local people and their reviews we were put off by the school. If you can possibly talk to parents I think thats the best way to get a feel for a school.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:52:43

Tbh, my life isn't that exciting (!), but what I loved about the suburb of London I lived in was the great parks, lots of toddler groups/activites, good restaurants and interesting shops within walking distance, and lots of other young families about. And being able to reach central London for days out. All of which I think I should be able to find outside London.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:54:34

Ok, scrap Coley Road!

nancerama Thu 18-Apr-13 13:54:47

I would really make friends with lots of estate agents. You're in a good position of you're in rented with no chain. It's not unusual for good properties to get listed on Rightmove as sold without ever going on as for sale. Details of suitable properties get sent to buyers who are ready to move a couple of days before they go onto Rightmove.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:57:10

Sounds like Caversham is about right. Houses in Caversham Park are obviously quite a bit cheaper but it's a long way out - does it feel cut off from Caversham centre/Reading?

Btw, sorry for short posts/not respnding properly - I'm juggling a grumpy baby and 3yo!

Wibblytummy Thu 18-Apr-13 14:08:36

Not much experience of Caversham Park sorry, it was a bit far out for us there but you can get a lot more for your money. Think they have the usual parades of shops etc but not a town centre, Emmer Green is quite near there and has a few bits and bobs but suspect they may be on the quiet side?

HerrenaHandbasket Thu 18-Apr-13 14:13:27

A vote for West Reading here - we're near the Oxford Road but transport links into town are brilliant and there are some good schools in our area too (primaries that is - not sure of secondaries). Lots of mum groups in this area and all over the town, the children's centres are never more than 20min drive away.

We got a 3-bed in this area for circa 180k, so might be worth considering. We've got 2 small DCs as well, so we chose with them in mind. I agree that the Reading festival and marathon are not major issues at all (although maybe the festival is, if you live in Caversham). I wouldn't live in Caversham anyway as I don't believe you get that much more house (or nicer house) for your money.

Mutley77 Thu 18-Apr-13 15:40:00

We lived in Caversham for nearly ten years - most of that with young children and we loved it. Would totally agree with Wibblytummy about the life with children. Caversham Primary and Emmer Green are definitely the favoured primary schools - The Hill is also good. Highdown (secondary) goes up and down but seems to be v good at the mo - outstanding ofsted.

C park village is a bit far out - if you drive it would be fine. But is a lot further for station commute too.

Your options are a bit limited on a 250K budget - you would probably be looking at kings rd / queens rd or maybe oxford / chester street but would be a fairly small property.

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:02:54

I also live in Caversham. We moved from South West London in July. We love it here, based on all the things you said you liked - nice parks, villagey feel, groups, etc. I also have family here, and can honestly say I am happier here than in London. Reading town centre is easy enough to walk to (and it's a nice walk, in the daylight at least, although as someone said, a bit dark at night, but plenty of people do it) and it has pretty much all the major shops you need. The best thing is that I don't go there that often as it's nice to stroll into Caversham and there's enough there to keep DS entertained - little toy shop, river walk, nice cafes, even a small soft play centre in the gym.

Prices have shot up recently, because at the moment - though this could change - there aren't enough sellers. Consequently getting a house is even more stressful than usual. £250k for a 3 bed could be difficult in central Caversham, although as somebody mentioned, the areas around King's Road and Queen's Road are possible (but will be snapped up quickly; plus the third bedroom is often very small in these terraced houses). I'm afraid I can't really advise about Caversham Park, as I don't really know the area. Emmer Green is nice, though. We are trying to buy here for the same budget, except we're also considering 2 bedroom houses, and we've been looking several months. Buy-to-let landlords are a particular pain as they have snapped up several properties from our hands at the asking price or more, or otherwise we've been outbid by other depserate first-time buyers who happen to have the extra £5k to cover the ridiculous rise in stamp duty (I was weeping into my tea about that last week, but feeling slightly more upbeat now <sniff>)

The 'best' schools are currently deemed to be Caversham Primary and Emmer Green Primary - I think they're rated outstanding, and The Hill Primary is also meant to be good. The catchment area for Caversham Primary is notoriously difficult to get into, and most of the houses there are larger and a lot more expensive, unless you go for a flat. The catchment school for most houses in central Caversham is Thameside, which apparently isn't amazing (rated 'average' by Ofsted I think) BUT these things change over time, and it's always worth looking at the school with an open mind.

Good luck - let me know if you move here, as I also have a 3 year old smile

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 16:12:23

Thanks Kalypso, that sounds positive. So are you renting at the moment?

The estate agents I've spoken to thought our budget would be fine, and I have seen quite a few possibles although they have gone quickly, it's true.

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:17:35

Yes, we are. The budget would be fine, but we have probably struggled because we've been trying to avoid properties too close to the river, although that's pretty difficult since most of lower Caversham is on the flood plain! Properties out of the flood plain seem to be a lot more expensive. Saying that, I don't think lower Caversham has seriously flooded since the late 40s, and we are beginning to reconsider and widen our net a little.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 16:22:11

oh, goodness, I hadn't even considered flooding. The way the weather has been going recently...

BornToFolk Thu 18-Apr-13 16:25:03

I don't think you've mentionned your children's ages so apologies if this doesn't apply but primary schools in West Reading are all really full. The good/outsanding ones are particularly oversubscribed, especially in the early years. I'd advise talking to the council about what places might be available where before you make any decision.

That being said, I love West Reading. I grew up here and chose to buy in the area, mainly because there is so much (shops, library, swimming pool, parks) near by.

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:32:17

Yeah, exactly my concerns too... However, there are various ways to protect your house from floodwater, plus I think we are better prepared these days (at the end of last year, some streets in lower Caversham were supplied with sandbags in advance of bad weather, but it turned out not to be necessary, even though the flooding was unusually bad late last year)

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:36:45

Oh, and the environment agency flood plain maps really do seem to be absolute worst-case scenario. For instance, my DH checked his parents' house and it's on the flood plain in Cardiff. They've been there fifty-odd years and the water has never even come close to any streets near where they live. Likewise, I spoke to somebody who lives in lower Caversham on the flood plain (north of Gosbrook Road though). She's been there forty years or so, and again, the water has never come even close.

Of course that's not to say it couldn't happen, but it's somewhat reassuring.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 09:25:12

Are you looking at the Cromwell Rd house Kalypso? We're having a look tomorrow, although I have to say it looks like a lot of work and not a lot of space. Ceiling tiles in particular putting me off!

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 19-Apr-13 11:54:18

I looked at a house in Cromwell Road, but it was too small for us (was already pregnant with #3), but I really liked the location - quiet road, nice little park and rec just at the end of the road, and everything right there. I looked at houses further north in Caversham and decided I didn't want to be that far away from the centre, too suburban!

You'd want to check the 'as the crow flies' distance to Highdown if you are thinking if being here that long.

Had a nosy look at Rightmove - there's one on Elgar Road that I'd love to live in - there's a stretch of houses whose gardens lead down to the river. Really quiet road (no through road), park/playground/riverside footpath just down the street. Probably a mile or so to the train station.

Also Grange Avenue is right by Palmer park, which is nice, but is a narrow busy road (bit of a rat run - I use it myself), and further from the town centre.

Or Belle Vue Terrace looks nice - just round the corner from me, lol - cul de sac so v quiet, park and vet and small Tesco within stone-throwing distance.

Have you got a few lined up tomorrow?

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 12:51:15

I liked the look of the Elgar Rd one as well, but it's in catchment for Katesgrove school which doesn't look that great tbh. This keeps happening when I find a house I like!

devilinside Fri 19-Apr-13 13:04:48

Queen's rd is about 10 mins walk to reading town centre, so you won't need to worry about buses. Thameside school has an increasingly good repuation and a good mix of children. I think there's even a waiting list now. You won't get into Caversham Primary unless you have 400k+ to spend on a property

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Apr-13 13:08:28

I was going to ask what features you were looking for from London as when I moved Reading was really not 'my London' and it is down to where in London you are moving from. However, you have now said so saves me asking. Just the throw a spanner in the works have you considered Newbury ( not Thatcham it won't tick your boxes), but Newbury has everything you are looking for and I think that London feel with many Victorian Terrace houses at under 250K.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 13:15:22

I haven't looked at Newbury, no. On the face of it the train is a bit slow and it's smaller than I would like, but I don't know it at all.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Apr-13 13:26:00

The train is 52 minutes to Paddington on the fast train you will get a seat which you probably won't in Reading. The combined population of Newbury and Thatcham they virtually merge is 70,000 so probably more than you imagined.
Toddler/playground everyday lovely park with cafe in park, loads of places to eat, the canal through town.
Loads and Loads of people move from London to Newbury so really worth looking at.

YoniOneWayOfLife Fri 19-Apr-13 13:32:18

It's an easy cycle from Woodley to Reading (or Earley station), and if you lived Southlake way, you would still be walkable to the precinct - if I'm remembering correctly is there a Costa now? Certainly there's a cafe in the Oakwood centre next to Woodford park.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 13:48:01

OK, so if Reading proves impossible then maybe Newbury is worth a look. What is the centre like?

I really don't want to be in a suburb a long way from the centre of anywhere. I am a SAHM and I like to be within walking distance of lots of things to do or I feel a bit stuck. I would also like to be able to take my two into London without it being a major hassle involving a bus/drive as well as the train journey. I know lots of people don't care about that stuff, but it's actually really important to me. I'm willing to make pretty big compromises on the house to be in the right location.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 13:50:49

I've managed to find one house to view tomorrow so not doing too well.
It's the schools that are the problem - every time I find a house I like it turns out the local school isn't great. I guess lots of other people also want a good location and good school, and most of them have more money than me!

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 19-Apr-13 13:55:55

If you looked at West Mills and Speen areas you will be very close to the town centre. Good range of shops including John Lewis home, independent department store Camp Hopsons, all the usual shops plus a range of independents and some like Joules, Jigsaw, Mint Velvet and Lakeland. We have a racecourse too with Ladies days, family days and live music.
Because of the big tech industry in the town I think just about any past time you want is catered for. Vodaphone , Bayer and Quantel are based here plus various other major players have offices even Apple have a subsidiary here. There's a lot more to it than people realised.
I moved here from Bloomsbury/Kensington to the only thing I missed was Harts though they are Tesco express now so I guess it's the same.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 14:14:25

That does sound nice. Do you know the schools at all? There's a house which looks nice in catchment for Winchcombe primary and Trinity secondary.

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 19-Apr-13 15:32:22

Are you looking at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/ ? I didn't think Katesgrove looked too bad on there! There's Coley Primary very near too. I think any school near Reading centre may look less than perfect, due to the mixed make up of the area. They won't be purely nice middle class kids, but there will be plenty ;-)

Good luck with the Cromwell Road one then :-)

I feel similarly to you about being in reach of places. Which is what I love about this West Reading/Oxford Road area. Whenever I go over to Woodley of an evening it is creepy how empty of pedestrians the streets are at 7 pm!

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 17:17:47

I'm looking at Ofsted report, which I know doesn't always tell the full story.

I'm with you on the empty streets at 7pm!

daisydoodoo Fri 19-Apr-13 17:36:47

Woodley precinct has an independent cafe which isnt great. A Costa. Brown bag cafe which is a small local chain and sells nicer coffee than Costa and nicer toasted sandwiches. Then theres the cafe in the oakwood centre across the road that does a mean full English for £4 inc tea or coffee.
We're also getting a new bar/restaurant which is the same chain as alto lounge in Caversham.

The housing stock might not be the prettiest in Woodley but it offers a lot for families and was voted the second best place in the country to raise a family (Wokingham came first, I do take these surveys with a pinch of salt though (

Quite a few parks, woodford has a leisure centre where theres a pre school and activities for children run. Theres a play park next to it and a paddling pool for if we ever get enough warm weather to use it. Ashenbury park is huge lots of space to wander and also has a play park and a lake to feed the ducks.

There are new houses being built on the airfield and new houses being built near me.

I appreciate it might be a bit too suburban for an ex Londoner though.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Fri 19-Apr-13 17:40:38

I live in West Reading/Oxford Rd and have done for the last 5 years. When I first moved to Reading I was warned off living in Whitley or Oxford Rd as they were "rough" areas.
I have lived in Caversham, Lower Earley when I was renting and then moved to West Reading when I wanted to buy as it was all I could afford. blush
I can honestly say I love living here. I like that it is noisy and busy. I like that if necessary I can go to the shops at 1am and buy my bread and milk! I like that there are at least ten different nationalities in DS school class of 30.
The only remotely hairy moment was getting him a school place as all the schools round here are hugely over subscribed.

zeldapinwheel Fri 19-Apr-13 17:46:57

My vote would be for woodley or caversham area also.

Having lived and worked in west Reading previously id avoid that area as much as possible. There's at least 2 'massage' parlors on the oxford road and a couple of businesses that do a nice sideline in drugs. From my old bedsit in Russell street my friends and I use to bet which of the hookers strutting up and down the road would get picked up 1st. On several occasions when walking into town on my lunch break dodgy men would come and walk alongside and offer drugs. It's not somewhere I would choose to bring up children if I didn't have to.

Sorry to anyone currently living there!

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 17:58:34

Ok, will check out Woodley, West Reading and Caversham. Busy day tomorrow!

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 19-Apr-13 17:59:01

And thank you so much everyone for your help. Mumsnet is great!

devilsadvocaat Fri 19-Apr-13 18:17:53

I'm in Woodley and used to live in London.
If you live Southlake way you can go over a bridge to get to Earley station, one stop from Reading. Southlake houses are cheaper and Southlake Primary just got Outstanding and is fairly easy to get into. Some parts of Southlake people say are a bit rough, but it really is nothing compared to living in London! Personally I think living close to Woodley centre is good, you can bike to station over the bridge in hardly any time.
It is a much slower pace of life here but very family orientated.

Let us know how you get on!

devilsadvocaat Fri 19-Apr-13 18:19:43

oh and check out Dinton Pastures which is walkable from Woodley smile

Good luck tomorrow FruitSalad. I agree with the comments about not relying solely on Ofsted for school info, it is so much more than that. The community in West Reading is very mixed and richer for it I think. I have friends with children at most of the schools in this area and none are unhappy despite the varying Ofsted reports.

Operafan Fri 19-Apr-13 20:45:27

Much as I like the Newbury, Thatcham area if you consider that you need to also check whether you will be able to get into Doctors and schools. Its vastly over developed - I know someone who was looking in that area and ruled it out because of problems with getting a suitable primary.

I would say any area you look at would be worth checking both during the day and at night - like someone has pointed out Reading has both good and bad areas.

MrsJamin Fri 19-Apr-13 20:45:51

Zeldapinwheel, it really matters which roads you choose, even which end you live on in west reading! Most are fine. I guess some people can live in areas with darker aspects and some can't. I personally couldn't ever live in Woodley, it seems pretty characterless suburbia to me! Horses for courses really.

BornToFolk Fri 19-Apr-13 20:50:20

Yeah, I used to live in Lower Earley and it was just weird! No one walked anywhere so the streets were always really quiet and there were no corner shops, just a massive Asda so if you wanted a pint of milk you had to go there. I much prefer the character and variety of West Reading, even if it is a bit rough around the edges sometimes...grin And I would much rather walk along the Oxford Road at night than through a quiet surburban street.

MrsJamin Fri 19-Apr-13 21:10:54

Totally agree borntofolk. Variety is the spice of life round here!

AtiaoftheJulii Fri 19-Apr-13 22:57:10

And I would much rather walk along the Oxford Road at night than through a quiet surburban street. Absolutely :-)

No one's ever offered me drugs, huh. I think the children might be a deterrent. And yes, there is some obvious (though it took me ages to realise!) prostitution, but it's never had any negative impact on my life. The worst things are people cycling on the pavement and the arsing dogshit.

nancerama Sat 20-Apr-13 08:35:28

Blimey! Half of Mumsnet seem to live in Reading.

MinimalistMommi Sat 20-Apr-13 08:44:31

I lived in West Reading at one point of my time there, just around the corner from the prostitute area (which like I said is under the railway bridge, opposite Lidl supermarket) and it never caused any problems at all. The Oxford Road is so busy and 'open' I can see why people would have no problem walking home after dark. When I was a student I used to walk all over Reading accepter dark and wasn't very comfortable with it really, but I was in the university area so the streets were quieter. I remember reading awful stuff about student attacks in the local newspapers though.

MinimalistMommi Sat 20-Apr-13 08:45:34

accepter should have read after

MinimalistMommi Sat 20-Apr-13 08:46:29

Isn't Lower Early meant to be the biggest housing estate in Europe or some funny fact like that?

daisydoodoo Sun 21-Apr-13 21:53:14

I thought that was ingleby barwick near Middlesborough?

MinimalistMommi Mon 22-Apr-13 11:52:19

Just what I used to hear on the grapevine, just googled it though and it's the third biggest in Europe www.commuterguide.co.uk/counties/berkshire/earley#.UXUVmYy9KSM
It is a bit of a suburban sprawl from what I remember.

vess Tue 23-Apr-13 13:35:35

Reading is a practical town, rather than an exciting one - but it's ok, really. The great thing about it is the river, and walks - which are easily done from Caversham. You can walk to cute villages and nice pubs easily, and the centre of town is also within easy reach.

We almost moved to Caversham 3 years ago, and have lived in Reading before, but only for 6 months.

The schools seem ok, I did go to see Thameside and the head teacher was indeed very motivated. The secondary for Caversham is Highdown, which is outstanding - so probably still a good option if kids don't get into grammar schools.

Oh, and possibly the most scenic Tesco in the country - in a park, on the side of the river Thames! grin

nancerama Sun 28-Apr-13 17:30:50

I've just seen that Priory Avenue property had a second open house yesterday. Perhaps there is still a chance for you as it wasn't snapped up last week.

I suspect a lazy agent. It's not on with a Caversham based agent - they can't be bothered to travel for one off viewings.

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