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Where should we move to? (Dorset / Hampshire / West Sussex)(68 Posts)
After sitting on the proverbial fence for a while, we have finally decided to move out of London. But where to? We’ve narrowed it down to Dorset, Hampshire, possibly West Sussex. We have no ties to any of these counties. There are however a few ‘must haves’.
We want to be no more than 30mins drive from the coast. Ideally on the outskirts of a city (Poole, Christchurch?) or in a town. A quiet village would probably be too much of a shock to the system. Also, I don’t want to have to drive miles for a pint of milk. We do want a large garden though which probably means being further away from the coast.
DCs are 3.5yrs and 6mo so good schools are important but secondaries are quite a long way away. I know there are different school systems across Dorset but we don’t have a preference either way.
A train link to London not too far away would be good as well.
So Mumsnet - where is the sweet spot??
That's such a huge area. Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Chichester? or any of the areas in between. I think you might need a little more to go on.
Maybe in Bournemouth if you want a city with the 'surfing after school' lifestyle?
Hampshire has some pretty good comps, so none of the 11+ stress.
Stick yourself in Chandlers Ford as close to Thornden as you can get?
Good access up M3 and along M27 both ways.
I've lived in the Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch area for most of my adult life and I went to university in Southampton, so I know this area fairly well.
There are two things that a lot of people don't realise about Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch: namely that it isn't really three separate towns, and that it is a lot bigger than you think: if the area had city status (which I expect is probably on the cards at some point), it would be the largest city on the south coast, surpassing Southampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Brighton.
The positive things about the place, in my view, would be:
The location: it's right between Dorset and the New Forest, and is positively surrounded by areas of outstanding natural beauty. It's also only about an hour and a half to London on the train.
The beach: a Bournemouth resident, on travelling to less fortunate places like Brighton, is duty-bound to sniff disdainfully before saying "call that a beach?". Almost ten miles of golden sand: none of this pebble rubbish. There's also Poole and Christchurch Harbours, both of which have lively watersports scenes.
The climate: we genuinely seem to have a favourable microclimate here. There's also the fact that Bournemouth is one of the "greenest" cities that I've ever lived in - not in the sense of ecologically conscious but rather in the sheer number of parks and just trees everywhere. I think it's cool that where most other cities would put a shopping precinct (I'm looking at you, Coventry), we have two miles of gardens stretching back from the beach.
The diversity: surprisingly, the conurbation has thriving and very visible Middle Eastern and Eastern European communities. It's also a very "young" place, with two universities and a large number of language schools catering to foreign students of English.
The negatives, however:
The inequality: Poole in particular is shocking for this - Sandbanks is one of the most expensive areas in the world to buy a property, while Turlin Moor is one of the most deprived areas outside London.
The politics: my god, this is Toryville. You could literally put Satan himself in a blue rosette and he'd be voted in. That said, the local council (which is new: merging the previous three town councils into one was essentially a Tory project) is not Conservative-led.
The cost: this is an exceptionally expensive place to buy and rent.
The drugs and the associated problems: Bournemouth in particular has a higher than usual number of drug rehabilitation clinics (notable alumnus: Gazza). Unfortunately, they don't seem to do a particularly good job. London boroughs in particular will fund someone with addiction issues to come to one of the Bournemouth clinics and then essentially wash their hands of them, which leads to high rates of single homelessness, drug-dealing and associated crime.
When you say close to the coast do you want a sandy beach? Because although there are some beautiful sandy beaches across the south there’s are also a lot of pebbles. If you want sand you could eliminate a lot of other areas.
@FithColumnist that's an excellent summary! We've had lovely holidays camping in the New Forest and visiting the (best in the UK) beaches. However, house prices and how much you get for your money are the reason I'm looking a bit away from the coast. I like the vibe of Southbourne but the gardens aren't huge. I've been looking at Broadstone, Wimbourne, Ringwood..
I live in Bournemouth.
It is lovely to have the beach on your doorstep, but then we normally go to the forest on warm days as all the tourists drive us crackers.
Driving around the conurbation will drive you crackers. It is one of the most congested towns in the country. It can take up to an hour to drive from Bournemouth to parts of Poole. The council are inept at any roadworks and they schedule them for the worst times aka peak summer season.
House prices to local wages are ridiculous, but as you are selling a london house you should be more than alright.
Schools are not brilliant in some areas, especially secondary schools. Bournemouth and Poole both have boys and girls grammar schools but competition is very very fierce. Students will have been hot housed from an early age if the parents want a grammar.
If I were you I would probably try and look at Southbourne, Hengistbury or Christchurch.
I’m in West Sussex and I like the fact I can get to Brighton in 30mins and other coastal places (Worthing, Goring, littlehampton) in 30- 45mins. I spent a lot of my teenagers years at the beach with friends.
I also like that we are 30mins away from the Surrey Hills, with lots of nature, walks and amazing viewpoints!
I can be in London on the train in an hour!
Me and my DH work in Surrey and it’s more affordable to be able to live here than in Surrey! I’m also bias as I grew up here...
I like it. The town I live in isn’t huge but it isn’t small either. It has a lovely feel too. My DH when we came to visits prior to moving here, said it just felt like ‘home’
I don't know Bournemouth well enough to comment on the micro-climate there but, as a general rule, the further west you go in the UK, the more it rains.
Think about winter too. Dorset is gorgeous on a sunny day in June, but you will have a lot of rainy Januarys too. Make sure that you live somewhere that has enough to entertain you all on wet days.
I moved to West Sussex over 20 years ago With young children and have found it a great place to bring up a family. I am a five minute walk from the beach, have a nice home with a decent sized garden, direct trains to London and Brighton, plenty of open spaces and nice walks in a conservation area and what is for me a lovely lifE.
I have friends in the area and know a bit about Broadstone and Wimborne. Wimborne is a lovely and quaint small town. Lots of bars and restaurants but further from the coast. Broadstone has good schools and a nice atmosphere but doesn't really have much of a centre. Poole harbour is easily accessible but there aren't proper beaches there as such.
Chichester is lovely. I lived there for 3 years and was very sad to leave. You have several beaches on your doorstep (including the beautiful Witterings) and good trains to London (during the day). The city has so much character too
I love the idea that Christchurch is a city.
OP. What are you looking for in a new area?
Do you want an area with lots of cities? Great beaches? Closer to London?
Tell us more of your criteria!
If you are looking at somewhere about the size of Wimborne you could consider Dorchester.
It's got a good high school (Thomas Hardye) and the Prince of Wales First School is super cute. There is a good leisure centre and they are making a good job of the new Brewery Quarter which has a nice new cinema, arts centre and several restaurants. About 15 mins to the sandy beach at Weymouth and 25 for the amazing watersports at Portland Harbour.
I live in Dorset (in quite q rural area) and commute to London. As you don't want super country, all those tick the boxes. Considering you want to live near a town, I would visit towns and see how you feel about them. Personally, I don't think Poole/Bournemouth/Christchurch are all that amazing (compared to what you can get further out), but all depends on your expectations. My friend who lives in Poole pays in rent for a 2 bed flat what we pay for a 4 bed detached house with a huge garden in the countryside. There's no real comparison for me. I'd rather live in London than a town with high costs of living outside. But there are lots of amazing places to live in all those counties.
I agree Chichester is lovely and thrre are beautiful beaches nearby. The only downside is that the traffic has always been bad when I've visited. Arundel in West Sussex, which is not far from Chichester is a very nice town and only 10 minutes or so from the beach at Littlehampton. There is a train to London, though I imagine not a fast one, and I don't know anything about schools round there.
I was a student in Bournemouth and now live near Portsmouth. I visit to shop and eat in Southampton, Chichester and Winchester so your search area is my hone and playground. Apart from a few dodgy city areas (and all cities have those), it's all lovely round here. Lovely forests, countryside and coast, close for ports to the continent, Bournemouth/Southampton airport, lovely market towns, loads of visitor attractions. It's all good, Possibly lacks a major concert venue.
You could Look around Dorchester, eg Puddletown or in Dorchester itself,
FithColumnist perfectly sums it up. We moved to Poole six years ago. Love it, but we came here because we love the outdoor lifestyle and it's been a lifeline during lockdown as we can walk down to the beach in 30 minutes. It is very different to London but everywhere on the coast is, and there's no city vibe, but is great for kids. Schools are tricky though - there are only a handful of good primaries, very oversubscribed, grammar issue at secondary, and as such house prices can be astronomical. The large garden would probably be what you'd need to compromise on unless you've got a very big budget, but with so much open space on your doorstep, I wouldn't get too hung up on it.
That said, we are looking to move out of the area (too expensive for the sort of agricultural property with acreage and outbuildings that we want). I can't say enough for zooming in on areas that seem good geographically and the visiting/spending a weekend/pretending you live there and seeing where you love. We knew what area ticked the boxes but took finding a village/school/amenities than felt right to help us make an offer.
@AtleastitsnotMonday sand for the kids, sailing for the husband.
Big sailing scene in Christchurch and Poole, and we've got more sand than we know what to do with. Both my kids have done scouts and because it's a sea unit, they do loads of watersports. A lot of local schools do watersports after-school clubs, too. The summer months are so lovely down here but you do have to be prepared for the wet, windy winters!
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