Moving to St Albans from central London -

(31 Posts)
anotherglass Sun 07-Oct-12 11:14:42

Hi, my DH and our two boys (6&9 years) are looking to move to St Albans largely because of the excellent local schools.

My DH and I both work in the London Bridge / Blackfriars area so would need to commute.

Currently, we live a 25 minute bus ride to the office so the commute is fairly hassle free and cheap.

If you have two parents that work in the city, how do you manage the school run etc and after school pick up?

Is parking a hassle at the train station? Do people cycle?

The schools I am considering are Beaumont and Sandringham which are both quite a way from the train station. I am not sure how I will manage getting the kids to school then getting to work for 10am?

Is the train service fairly good or subject to lots of delays?

Please give me your thougths on whether this is do-able.


OP’s posts: |
Himalaya Sun 07-Oct-12 11:35:08

Yes it is doable

Trains are pretty reliable, but more expensive than a London commute. You pay in rail fares but gain a little in house prices, and a lot in space, clean air and schools.
Lots of people cycle to the station (they have just put in double decker bike racks to expand capacity)
I don't commute daily but lots of people with kids do. It is quite possible to drop off at 8:45 at a primary school in the suburbs of St Albans I.e.: (Sandringham/Beaumont area) and be on a train by 9:25 and at blackfriars by 10, but it is tight - You may want a primary school with a breakfast club.

anotherglass Sun 07-Oct-12 11:39:28

That's very useful, thanks. Do many primary schools have breakfast clubs? What's the traffic like during the AM/PM rush hours?

OP’s posts: |
MeFour Sun 07-Oct-12 11:41:58

Both schools you mention are secondary so I'm guessing your children are older. Could they not make their own way to school?

Himalaya Sun 07-Oct-12 11:44:09

The company that runs a lot of the breakfast and after school clubs this end of town is called Lindees - they pick up from various schools.

I don't know much about traffic and parking since I don't drive -but it's fine on a bike smile

anotherglass Sun 07-Oct-12 11:45:16

The eldest starts secondary in 2014. We are looking to move from London in the next six months so we can be in the right catchment area for a good secondary. Not so bothered about the primary at the moment the focus is the secondary school.

OP’s posts: |
MeFour Sun 07-Oct-12 11:53:01

I think it entirely depends how long it takes you to get to the station and what time you drop off. It could be very tight. Half an hour to farringdon and then you till have to do the circle line (or whichever route you choose) plus get to work from the other end

anotherglass Sun 07-Oct-12 12:01:05

I work at Southbank so very handy for Blackfriars. How long does it take by bike from Beaumont/Sandringham area to train station?

OP’s posts: |
HalleLouja Sun 07-Oct-12 12:16:57

Have you looked at Harpenden a bit further out but also great schools and on the same train line.

Himalaya Sun 07-Oct-12 13:52:10

Another - it's about 20 minutes by bike

In terms of school choice there is not alot to chose between V, S and B - they are all generally happy, sucessful schools - it comes down to how you feel about the impression you get and whether you have a preference for or against single sex and bigger (S) vs smaller (B). if you want to keep your options open live somewhere between B And S.

On primaries you will have to be guided by what's available - which schools have midstream places for 2 children your ages - what you don't want for logistics is two different primary schools! If you talk nicely to the heads they should be able to tell you if they have places, although they can never guarantee they will still have them once you have moved.

juneau Sun 07-Oct-12 15:31:06

The traffic in rush hour is horrible - I have to drive from one side of town to the other to take my DS to school and it takes me a minimum of 15 mins (usually more like 20) from the station to King Harry Lane. Lots of people cycle, but I don't think it would be significantly quicker as there are lots of traffic lights and a couple of big hills.

It's a lovely town to live though, express train from St Albans City to St Pancras that takes only 20 mins, good schools and very child-friendly town with great shops and restaurants. We love it.

anotherglass Sun 07-Oct-12 16:06:12

What does everyone do for after school care if they commute from the City. I see the Lindees club closes at 6.15pm. Worried about train delays etc. Are there enough options in terms of nannies/au pairs to do school pick ups?

OP’s posts: |
Himalaya Mon 08-Oct-12 09:05:42

Another -

Like everywhere aupairs tend to come from overseas/an agency so there is not really a question of 'local supply', just whether you have the room and can make it work for you. There are nannies (at a price). There are childminders - and primary schools may be able to tell you who does pick-ups from their school.

People do make it work as two commuter families, and single-parent commuter families. But there are also a lot of families where the dad commutes and the mum is SAH, or works locally in a 'little job' - this is probably the predominant suburban model and you may feel like you have moved to the 1950s grin.

One thing i noticed was you said both you and DH work at blackfriars - but you would have to get the kids to school and get to work by 10. One thing to beware of is that the commute does tend to push people into traditional dad/mum roles if you are not careful. There are upsides and downsides of living in the suburbs - a lot of people seem to end up in a situation where the wife takes all the career downsides, and the kids get the upsides in terms of education and safety etc... and the dad just gets to carry on as normal.

juneau Mon 08-Oct-12 10:43:53

I agree Himalaya. I'd really like to go back to work in the City, but I have no idea how this would be possible with the school run, nursery, school holidays, children being ill, commuting, etc, as my DH has a job that doesn't allow for any flexibility and I'd have to shoulder all the DC stuff, so who the hell would employ me? If we lived in London it would be much easier.

HalleLouja Mon 08-Oct-12 12:02:19

We are lucky DH has a job for a large company nearby. I work in the city part time but most of that is from home. So my job is quite interesting and not just a "little job".

Himalaya Mon 08-Oct-12 13:34:27

wink HalleLouja - I didn't mean to apply that all PT/work from home jobs are 'little jobs'.

But i think it can come as a surprise to people how hard it is to get back into/maintain the kind of work they used to do if they are squeezed between a partner with an uncompromising job in London, childcare and a long commute.

HalleLouja Mon 08-Oct-12 13:43:22

I am really lucky to have the job I do not that I feel that way most of the time. as they are really hard to come by. But there are lots of big companies in driving distance from St Albans. So if you want to work full time and not travel into London you have options.

anotherglass Mon 08-Oct-12 19:47:49

Thanks for your input. All very helpful.

Please tell me how these two parent commuting families make it work? How do you make it less stressful?

We have 2 boys aged 9 and 6, no family in St Alban's and both work in the City.

OP’s posts: |
HalleLouja Mon 08-Oct-12 19:52:58

Some people do it so that one person goes to work early and leaves early and the other goes in later and works later. Depends if your work is flexible. If not you will need an au pair or someone similar to help.

anotherglass Mon 08-Oct-12 20:06:28

Thanks HL. DH finishes 5pm. Is that too late to get back for after-school clubs? Would we defo need au pair or nanny?

OP’s posts: |
Squeegle Mon 08-Oct-12 20:11:56

I live in st a. I think that an au pair/ before and after school nanny is much less stressful than depending in trains to get you back before 6 15. But there are quite a few around- and it's a nice place to live so I think it's worth it.

SkiBumMum Mon 08-Oct-12 20:17:36

Mine are young 1&3.5. We are in Harpenden and both work. We have a nanny. I suspect we will have moved (locally) before they are secondary age and will try and get a spare room for an au pair as nannies are too expensive for older kids after school. It's a nice area to live and tons going on so holidays etc seem to be well catered for. I'd definitely cycle to the station as traffic is a horrid at rush hour. Or come to harpers with half of london and you can walk grin.

anotherglass Mon 08-Oct-12 20:34:46

Thanks very much. Can anyone give me an idea of cost for au pair (live in or out) needed for Am and Pm school runs; childminders and after school clubs. Harpenden sounds great. What are the good secondaries?

OP’s posts: |
MeFour Mon 08-Oct-12 21:03:21

All Harpenden secondaries are considered good.

HalleLouja Mon 08-Oct-12 21:11:21

Harpenden is fab for schools. Also much more green than St Albans. Its only one stop up and think its easier to get a seat on the train grin. I commute from Hatfield as live outside both SA and Harpo.

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