10 reasons to live in Milton Keynes
Step forward Milton Keynes… Local editor Catherine guides us through the very best parts of the town, from the action-packed waters of Willen Lake to the iconically bizarre Concrete Cows exhibit in Bancroft.
1. Thing about the area
Milton Keynes has so many best bits it's hard to pin down one. You can be in the middle of the city centre but within walking distance of tranquil nature. With 20 million trees (yes, 20 million), 5,000 acres of rivers, woods, lakes and parks and 125 miles of cycleways, Milton Keynes is most definitely one of the best places to bring up a nature-loving, active family.
Milton Keynes is distinct from the hustle and bustle of London but close enough to pop in to the capital when you need to. Excellent train links mean London is only 35 minutes away, so it's great for people who want to move out of London but still crave a big city vibe every now and again, or for those who commute.
2. Child-friendly café
A great place to drop into is Tea Monkey in Midsummer Boulevard. While you sample one of their 40 types of tea (or coffee), children can tuck into healthy smoothies and organic cookies. With comfy, low-level seating, you can quite easily spend a couple of hours drinking and chatting away. Younger children are entertained with crayons and colouring sheets and older children can make use of the wall mounted iPads and surf to their heart's content.
3. Child-free night out
For an evening out without the kids you'd have to head for The Theatre District, your evening of entertainment all in one place. Starting with a meal out at TGI's or the Taipan, you can then move onto one of the many bars like Lloyd's or The Slug and Lettuce which has different club and party nights over two floors. Or you could try out the newest club in town, Cookies and Cream.
Those who are after a more cultural evening out should check out performances at The Stables in Wavendon, or catch one of the many shows at Milton Keynes Theatre.
4. Outside space
Milton Keynes isn't short of outside space: there are 17 parks and lakes, four woodland areas and a lovely tree cathedral to choose from.
For sailing, rowing and canoeing, you need to head to Caldecotte Lake with its iconic windmill, while Linford Wood is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon stroll looking for hidden wooden sculptures and trying to spot woodpeckers, badgers and even tawny owls.
There are always plenty of events taking place in the outside spaces, such as Proms in the Park and Pictures in the Park in August and the World Picnic Festival at the end of July - just what you need in your summer holidays.
5. Hidden gem
It has to be the Peace Pagoda & Buddhist Temple. Hidden in Willen Park North and nestled among 1,000 cherry trees, the Peace Pagoda was built by the monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji as a symbol of world brotherhood. You'll often find someone there practising martial arts or Tai Chi. Next to the Pagoda is the Buddhist Temple, which is open to the public, as are their beautiful Japanese Zen gardens. It's a really interesting place to visit.
Average semi-detached house price
Milton Keynes: £185,000
Average class size for primary schools
Milton Keynes: 26.1 pupils
UK: 27 pupils
Average class size for secondary schools
Milton Keynes: 21.1 pupils
UK: 20.4 pupils
Milton Keynes: £26,900
Milton Keynes: 3.4%
6. Community venue
There are plenty of great community venues around Milton Keynes but MK Dons Football Club is particularly family and community orientated.
With dedicated family entrances to the stadium, a family seating section, match-day entertainment and refreshments, and mascot activities, the Dons are firmly putting football back into the community and making it a safe, welcoming place to be.
On 'family fun days' under-18s go to the match for only £1.
7. Free visitor attraction
You can't come to Milton Keynes and not visit the famous Concrete Cows, grazing in Bancroft since 1978. If you don't fancy the bike ride to Bancroft, new additions to the herd have taken up home at Midsummer Place Shopping Centre.
For a drop of culture, why not take the family to MK Gallery for free. Filled with loads of family and children's events, both at the Gallery and at other sites across Milton Keynes, they are never short of new activities and things to see.
8. Day out
You need to visit Gullivers Land, Milton Keynes' very own theme park. Great for children aged 2-13, it has over 70 rides and attractions to keep them entertained, from the lazy river and flying carpet to the huge pirate ship and whizzing roller coaster.
If that wasn't enough fun, you can combine your day out and hop next door to the Dinosaur and Farm park: discover the lost world on the Jurassic river ride or snuggle up with some super cute animals at the farm. Need to cool down? Head for Splashzone for two hours of waterslides and water fun, just watch out for that BIG bucket of water that likes to tip out.
9. Places to live
There are so many lovely places to live in Milton Keynes, ranging from the original villages of Stony Stratford, Wolverton, Newport Pagnell and Bletchley, to the newer additions and new builds.
If you need to be close to the motorway, you should look at Wavendon Gate, Kents Hill and Monkston, or if you need to commute by train, Loughton is a lovely area.
If you would rather retreat to the country and get away from the hustle and bustle, the villages of Olney, Sherrington and Emberton are perfect. Just a 15-minute journey from the city and you're transported into village life with your traditional high street and village fun like Olney's annual pancake race.
10. Places to shop
Milton Keynes is a shopper's paradise! Together, the centre of MK and Midsummer Place makes Milton Keynes one of the largest undercovered shopping centres in Europe. With high street favourites such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, plus designer stores like Hollister and Superdry, you really are spoilt for choice.
If you'd prefer to escape and stroll through the cobbled streets and arcades, the surrounding villages of Olney, Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell offer lots of independent and specialist shops, as well as weekly markets.
For a Christmas treat, Middleton Hall in MK centre is transported to a winter wonderland with a magical display and lots of handmade craft stalls to buy those ‘one off' unique Christmas presents.
We moved to Milton Keynes from London eight years ago as my job relocated and we haven't looked back. It's a great place to bring up your family as everything is so family orientated, which is just what you need when you have three boys to keep entertained.
I became a Local Editor for Mumsnet Local as I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something with my community. As a new mum (and not so new!), you can sometimes feel isolated; it's hard to find the right information or connections you need, whether that's on schools, events or a handyman and Mumsnet Local was that anchor, bringing all that information to the forefront of the community.
With our 'local community' growing all the time, it's really exciting to be part of this new world and I've met some really lovely local people along the way who really care about the place where they live.