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Moving to Norwich, maybe...

(37 Posts)
AbsintheAndChips Mon 15-Jun-15 21:33:15

Hello, all. DH and I and DD (age 8, Y3) are thinking about moving to Norwich. We have always previously been tied to London for DH's job but changes in his work (he's now freelance and away from home about half the time) mean that we could live more or less anywhere in the UK as long as not terribly remote. Norwich is somewhere he has visited for work and liked very much and I have very fond childhood memories of Norfolk and Suffolk and so we are thinking about a move. We're planning to visit for a few days soon and have a good look round and maybe look at a few houses to see what we think. We don't need to rush into things - we would aim to move some time over the next year so DD would have a full Y5 and Y6 to make friends before secondary school. We want a university town because we like the idea of there being plenty of young people and interesting things going on and we would love to be nearer the sea. I work from home now so am able to work anywhere in the country. Plus if we moved, we could be mortgage free either immediately or very quickly which might mean I don't need to work unless I want to (I would really love this, and am quite interested in starting my own business instead of working for other people if I had the time).

Could any kind person point me at good areas to look at? I'm particularly interested in schools (both primary and secondary) which would be good to move close to. I don't require anything special but would ideally want a good, communicative, friendly, inclusive school not a SATS/exam factory. I don't care about Ofsted ratings as such - more interested in personal experience of schools that are happy places to learn in. We'd like to be able to walk as a minimum to basic amenities (park, newsagent, supermarket) and ideally to the city centre, though we do both drive.

Also, if anyone likes a good house conversation, tell me what's wrong with these ones! And the good points, if there are any! To give a point of comparison, we are currently in a smallish two up two down with a postage stamp sized garden, planes overhead, and a trainline beyond our garden fence, so you can see why we might want a bit more space to breathe.

Also, please tell me any pros and cons of Norwich that I might not have thought of. Anyone else moved from London? How did you find it?

Thank you so much to anyone who is prepared to share their wisdom!

AbsintheAndChips Tue 23-Jun-15 21:22:31

So, we visited, and we loved it. We thought it seemed ideal for what we want. We'd love to get more local info. Anyone?

PolShelby Mon 06-Jul-15 11:53:59

I can't give you much advice on the schools unfortunately as DD is only 10 weeks but can tell you from the house links you've posted that the ones on Bracondale are on a very busy road which may not suit. For your budget you could get something lovely anywhere but close to city the 'Golden Triangle' and the villages of Cringleford and Eaton are nice. The Golden Triangle covers Earlham/Unthank roads and has a mix of small terraces and large period properties. It is a bit student-y in places though as it is close to UEA. Cringleford and Eaton are slightly further from the city centre but are very nice and there's a Waitrose in Eaton grin

I've lived here my whole life pretty much so not much I can compare to but can say Norwich is lovely, very safe and we have great shops. We have an annual arts festival where there's lots of things to do and we've also just had the annual Lord Mayors procession which included an outdoor water slide this year! Also the beach is only a 40min drive away depending on whether you visit the North or East coasts.

Might be worth checking out our local newspapers EDP and Evening News if you want to know more.

The only downsides for me are the roads, poor public transport and lack of ikea (although we are getting a small one of those soon!).

Hope that helps a bit!

AbsintheAndChips Mon 06-Jul-15 16:51:58

Oh, thank you very much! Much appreciated. We have been looking around the Golden Triangle and think it might be our kind of place. We saw the Lord Mayor's procession info online and it looked really fun (and just our kind of thing). Thanks for the info on the busy road - that is what we suspected from Streetview etc so probably rules those ones out (shame, I liked the idea of a room big enough to put two grand pianos in it). We do drive so not massively worried about public transport but obviously DD will get older and need to get around on her own.

I really appreciate the help. Great idea to look at local papers.

Misty9 Sun 13-Sep-15 20:53:52

Hi there, I agree that golden triangle is a lovely place with a great vibe - but it is very student-ville and a high risk of having some next door! That plus the housing stock (mostly terraces with tiny kitchens, nightmare parking, box room) made us look a bit further around Cecil Rd/Trafford road area and we love it here. Only downside is schools as local one (Lakenham) doesn't have great reputation, but Bignold and colman road are both rated so could look near those.

Battery about to die but I will try to add more later!

AbsintheAndChips Mon 05-Oct-15 22:33:42

How about secondary schools? Sorry, has been ages and I didn't see your reply before now.

I am kind of OK with a slightly below par junior school - I think as long as it's friendly and welcoming DD will do fine anywhere, but I didn't think the secondary school results looked very good compared to where we are now.

Mattheguineapig Thu 19-Nov-15 13:22:14

I'm basically in exactly the same position as you. My DH has been made redundant and I an freelance, so we decided to sell up in London and move out. My DH is from Norwich and I love it when we visit. However, Im really confused about how we do it. We have DC in reception and year 3. I dont know where to go, the procedure for getting into schools or whether they are massively oversubscribed or anything! OP Sorry for hijacking this thread- how did you get on?

Mattheguineapig Thu 19-Nov-15 13:24:23

We quite like Thorpe St Andrews and the secondary school looks good. My DH said Hewitts and CNS were the best schools in the area when he was a kid and now they are terrible, so things can change with secondary schools in 2 or 3 years.

Ponjii72 Sun 22-Nov-15 07:49:33

I don't know whether you have moved already but I agree that Golden Triangle area would be perfect for you. On your budget you could get a detached house so very unlikely to end up next to a student house. Besides, the students and young families (plus older folk) live very happily together and make for a really nice community in my opinion. Christchurch Road is really nice. Recreation Road is a very good infant school, Avenue Junior is very popular but very big and no field for playtimes. Colman Infant and Junior both very good. There is also St Francis Catholic primary school. High Schools is trickier. Most local kids go to CNS which doesn't have great results but I think would be fine for a fairly high achieving child (although mine are still young, so I'm not best to comment on this really). Notre Dame is meant to be good Catholic school I think. There is also Wymondham College which is a state boarding school with excellent results. Impossible to get into unless you live really close or you are happy for your child to board (fees about £9k per year I think).
Hope that helps. Norwich is a fantastic place to live, so laid back and loads to do plus beautiful beaches half an hour away. Good luck.

Mattheguineapig Mon 23-Nov-15 12:36:58

Where would you go if you can't afford the Golden Triangle? We have a max budget of 300k which from what I've seen on rightmost isn't enough for a 4 bed house in GT but more than enough almost anywhere else

AbsintheAndChips Mon 23-Nov-15 19:55:16

Actually, we are still mired in indecision! We started looking at a couple of other places outside London - nowhere near as nice as Norwich but with better schools and came to a standstill. I think we have a year or so left before we really have to move (would not want to move DD once she has started at secondary).

It is a good point that schools can change quickly.

Ponjii72 Mon 23-Nov-15 19:57:34

Well, I don't know much about the other areas of Norwich I'm afraid. I do think you can get a 4 bed for 300k in the Golden Triangle, but it would be a terrace (they are gorgeous though). There are less expensive properties off Dereham Road I think (Alexandra Road, Nelson Street, Stafford Street etc) which are slightly out of Recreation Road catchment but I know lots of people who live there and have got in. Or the other end of Unthank Road past Colman Road, on roads like Melrose Road, Upton Road etc in catchment for Colman Infant & Junior. Or NR4 Corie Road, De Hague Road, George Borrow Road all nice houses but slightly cheaper as a bit further out.
As I said, I don't really know any other areas of Norwich. Eaton and Cringleford (big new estate Roundhouse Park which is popular with families) seem nice but not sure if they are any cheaper.

Suffolker Mon 23-Nov-15 20:56:05

I agree that to get a decent sized detached in the golden triangle is tricky (and expensive). Most of the houses are terraces and you would get more for your money a bit further out. We've lived in Norwich for about 16 years and love it here. A perfect city for raising a family in my opinion. We live in Eaton, not far from Eaton park. Local schools are good (Colman Infants particularly good). Try not to get too hung up in Osfted reports and results. DS is starting at CNS (high school) in September and we were really impressed with it. Yes the results on paper might not look amazing but that's because they let all children have a go at exams they might not do brilliantly at, meaning the results are not artificially high. Their value added score is also very good, and my teacher friends assure me that is what you should focus on. I'm sure it's not a perfect school, but I think most children are happy and perform well. If you are prepared to live out of the city, Aylsham High is meant to be very good.
I love living here and would encourage anyone who wants a vibrant yet friendly city, with gorgeous countryside/coastline on the doorstep, to move here smile

Hero1callylost Mon 23-Nov-15 21:17:04

Eaton and Cringleford are lovely but very expensive! expensive and lovely! Roundhouse Park/Cringleford has a brilliant community - check out

Mat what kind of place are you looking for? Difficult to think of a similar alternative to NR4/Goldern Triangle- maybe Old Catton? (But be careful to go for right next to Mile Cross - very dodgy!) There are lots of nice places a bit further out of the centre - Eaton, Cringleford, Thorpe St Andrew

Then there are more villagy places further out - Brundall, Blofield, anywhere east of the city is popular according to estate agents.

Having lived off Dereham Road in the past I would avoid that area - had my car window smashed in a day after moving into to a road near Nelson Street and was punched in the face by a youth on my way home one dark winter evening! Maybe I just had bad luck but I was very keen to move out of that area ASAP. Generally noisy and impersonal.

AbsintheAndChips Mon 23-Nov-15 21:33:11

That is v good info on the CNS results, Suffolker. And I applaud a school that lets kids have a go at what they want to have a go at, actually.

Honestly, I am not an Ofsted-worshipper. I sent DD to a primary school that everyone else was avoiding like the plague because it just seemed like a very happy and friendly place in contrast to the sausage factory atmosphere of some of the supposedly better schools.

Possibly what I should do is actually book a visit and look at some schools.

Our budget is about £600,000 to £750,000 depending on how mortgage free we want to be.

We went to Eaton Park on one of our visits and thought it was lovely.

Mattheguineapig Mon 23-Nov-15 21:35:37

hero I'm not fussy! Just a nice space in a nice family friendly area with decent schools that we can get the kids into that aren't massively oversubscribed. I'm leaning towards Thorpe St Andrews. My DH isn't keen on new builds so didn't even contemplate Roundhouse Park, but I might persuade him to have a look as I've heard good things. absinthe we will be looking to move first half of 2016, but when you move maybe we can have a London exiles meet up!!!

AbsintheAndChips Mon 23-Nov-15 21:45:31

That sounds good! I would love to meet up with anyone once we move. Would be great to have some people to have coffee/wine/cake with sometimes and start to get to know people!

Mattheguineapig Mon 23-Nov-15 21:50:03

It's a date grin

AbsintheAndChips Mon 23-Nov-15 21:56:43

Fab! grin

Poppiesway Tue 24-Nov-15 00:39:50

Is taverham too far out for you? Nice houses around the area there..

Ex dp lived in bracondale before leaving Norwich.. A lot of house shares down there and drunken people coming home at night that way. Specially after the football as so near Carrow road..

Mattheguineapig Tue 24-Nov-15 15:01:06

Not really. All I want is to not move into a bad area by accident! When you are moving from London, it's hard to gauge what is bad, or good, or far away, because London is such a bubble- the good is really good and impossible to live in if you are on a normal salary but the bad is really bad! It takes my mum 2 hours to cross London to see us on a good day, and 5 hours on a bad so distance is relative too!!!

Mattheguineapig Tue 24-Nov-15 15:08:07

Absinthe If it helps any with the indecision, we thought about moving to Norwich first about 2 years ago, as we wanted to move out of London and it was a place we knew and had links with. We then thought we could actually move anywhere in the country, so visited loads of places, including Northampton, Milton Keynes, the South coast, Chester and Bristol for weekend trips. All places we vaguely knew people. They were all great, but we've come back to our gut instinct of moving to Norwich. I'm hoping going with our first instinct is going to be the right one.

AbsintheAndChips Tue 24-Nov-15 20:38:57

That does sort of help!

DH works all over the country so he sees everywhere. And I used to so know a lot of places quite well. We wanted:

- a university town (this because bands, theatre, things happening, arts, creativity, whatever)
- somewhere near the sea (because I love it even in winter, and in summer it would be a reason for London friends to visit)
- somewhere that is a local hub (so not a sleepy little place but somewhere people come to often in order to enjoy themselves therefore stuff going on, shops, markets, fun)
- somewhere we could be mortgage free and also have a bigger house than we do now (this means a 4 pref 5 bed property for under £700,000 which rules out a lot of southern England)
- not the North (too cold, too far away from family)
- reasonable journey to London for the purpose of seeing friends and family

And Norwich ticks all the boxes. The other place we have seriously looked at is the countryside near Banbury but that doesn't tick quite a few of the boxes.

However, since we looked seriously at Norwich (we spent a few weekends there last year and looked at a few houses), we found that actually there were a few things that were worrying me in particular about the move.

- schools (I know, I'm really not one of those parents, I promise, but DD is really genuinely v clever and I want her to achieve her potential)
- music (we have a fantastic council music service here and DD can access all kinds of choirs and orchestras for free plus v cheap music lessons - it is a real passion of hers)
- support network (I'm terrified of moving and not having the people who will eg pick DD up from school if I can't, take her for an afternoon in the hols so I can get some work done, whatever - DH is away loads so particularly important for me as I am on my own with DD about 80% of the time, also am quite shy and find it hard to make friends).

So that is what is going on in my head right now! Feel free to tell me I am nuts!

AbsintheAndChips Tue 24-Nov-15 20:42:58

Oh, and my other stipulation is being able to walk to a shop, however small, to buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread or a paper.

EmleyMoor Tue 24-Nov-15 21:03:59


The thing about Norwich secondary schools is that there are now no state schools, they are all academies or about to be - Hewett is on its way to the Inspiration Trust despite local opposition. The only other options are the the private girl's school or the Catholic Notre Dame.

For Junior, Avenues has dipped in reputation after years of huge popularity with the golden triangle families, it's very hothouse-y, over-crowded and not the school it once was. It is academically achieving but the atmosphere is apparently not good.

Colman Infant and junior are both really good - infant is Ofsted outstanding, very very popular, hard to get in to if you're out of catchment BUT their head leaves in about (looks at watch) 3.5 weeks so there's an unknown quantity of the new head. I'm sure they'll be great. Whereas the juniors isn't top yet but is working hard to get to outstanding and has a fantastic, relatively new and dynamic head and really good teachers, the atmosphere is fab and there's MASSES to do - loads of lunchtime and after-school clubs.

There are choirs and opportunities for singing in the city, there is a schools music programme that is very cheap and they lend instruments too - we currently have a keyboard!

And as for support network, as long as you're friendly and nice I'm sure you'll build a network - for various reasons I wasn't in with the other mums from baby-group days but although some of them have known one another for aeons, I have a solid network of friends, we all help one another. I wouldn't worry about that. And if necessary, there is Beehive holiday club which is run by some very capable, friendly and lovely people so there'd be that option.

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