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Preparing to buy a house in North Cambridgeshire - areas advice

(28 Posts)
marushka82 Mon 08-May-17 15:51:21

Hello everyone,

DH and I are getting ready to start our house search. We have a DD who will be starting school this September. Cannot really afford Cambridge itself as I don't think we will get much for our budget which is around £350k. Basically, we're looking at North/North East/East parts of Cambridgeshire and places which would allow us to commute to Cambridge for work (DH wants to drive and works in Science Park, I work in the centre of Cambridge). We don't really want any doer upper properties, just a 3 bedroom place with a garden that we can move into and not have to do major things with :D
So far we visited Ely and St Ives and loved both (we are aware both are a commuting pain!), went to Soham as well but not too sure about it. As the house market doesn't seem super vibrant we are keen to consider smaller villages nearby Ely/St Ives or Cambridge and of course we're looking for friendly places with good amenities (or at least close to a bigger town) and schools. We are also planning another DC so somewhere with lots of baby groups etc would be great. A lot of the threads here concentrate on areas south of Cambridge which probably wouldn't work for us.

Would you be able to recommend other places for a recon? We were considering Witchford (it seems basically a stone's throw from Ely though there doesn't seem to be much there, but we've only driven through it so might be wrong!) and maybe Littleport, but I'm not sure I liked the look of it (again, might be wrong and happy to be corrected! grin

Many many thanks in advance!

marushka82 Wed 10-May-17 10:38:40


CaveMum Wed 10-May-17 15:20:35

have you looked at villages like Burwell, Chippenham, Exning and Fordham? Or even Newmarket?

I don't know Witchford or Littleport so can't comment.

Wish2 Wed 10-May-17 19:42:34

I would avoid Littleport. Ely is lovely, so are Burwell, Fordham, Wicken, Haddenham, Stretham.

TapStepBallChange Wed 10-May-17 20:06:29

Ely is lovely, I love the famers market, the book shop, walking by the river. It's not great for going out, but lovely for families and the cinema is opening this week. Have a look at the villages, Haddenham, Wilburton, Little Downhan, little therefore. Personally I'd find littleport a little bit too far out.

I'd go for Ely over st Ives for the science park because it is at the bottom of the a10 and you'll have the option of using north Cambridge station. I live in the area, DM if you have questions

CaveMum Wed 10-May-17 22:02:11

Ooh, is it this week the cinema opens?

Meant to add to my earlier posts that there are several good primary schools in the area just south of Ely (Fordham has an OFSTED "outstanding" school plus there are "good" schools in Burwell, Isleham, Exning and Soham). Secondary schools are a bit more hit and miss but Bottisham has an "outstanding" school.

There are good Children's Centres in Newmarket and Soham with baby groups that I have attended. There's a great local man known as Mister Melody who runs several pre-school sing-a-long groups each week. There are also a few independent baby massage groups and The like in the area around Newmarket.

In Ely there's a great breastfeeding support group called Ely Milks which is organised by a renowned lactation consultant.

Wish2 Thu 11-May-17 06:07:13

Yes, I think the new cinema is now open.

marushka82 Thu 11-May-17 11:25:17

ah, thank you so much for the recommendations! I will definitely check them out!
I saw a lot of houses for sale in Little Downham, but then I checked the January OFSTED for the primary school and I don't think I would want DD to go there. I know OFSTED reports are not the be all and end all but at the same time I've never come across a school which has such a low rating.
My main worry is the fact that I've never lived in a village before - we lived in London for a while and then moved to Cambridge and that move was a bit of a shock (we love Cambridge now, shame we can't afford to buy here!) - I just worry I will feel secluded in a small place, if you know what I mean. I know it's a silly question but those of you living in small villages: what's it like?
Off to search Rightmove for houses in the places you mentioned grin

CaveMum Thu 11-May-17 12:38:29

The village I live in is well served - we've got a primary school, a Co-Op, a petrol station, a very good Indian restaurant and a decent Chinese. Plus a pub, 2 garden centres (with very good cafes) and a well thought of restaurant. Additionally there's a Saki brewery and visitor centre currently being built (totally outs self!).

We're equidistant between Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and Ely so good transport links too.

marushka82 Thu 11-May-17 14:08:24

CaveMum - sounds great!!! Thanks for sharing!

TapStepBallChange Thu 11-May-17 15:35:01

I've got friends with children at little downhan, it's not as bad as the ofsted makes out is their view, and they are taking some very quick steps to turn it round. I know Wilburton had some bad ofsted reports but they put a new head in and she's been great, school did well in yr 6 SATs last yr.

Wish2 Thu 11-May-17 15:59:39

I second the comments about Little Downham school.

Wish2 Thu 11-May-17 16:26:05

Additionally there's a Saki brewery... I lived in a nearby village (one with a National Trust property) up until June 2016 and I had no idea there was a Sake brewery in the place you refer to!

CaveMum Thu 11-May-17 16:29:00

It's still being built Wish, not sure when it's due to be ready but there's going to be a visitor centre, cafe and possibly a boutique hotel/BnB too.

marushka82 Thu 11-May-17 16:53:19

Omg, just found a house in Burwell that I absolutely love and hope we can view - so many more places to look at thanks to you! flowers

marushka82 Fri 12-May-17 10:40:14

Me again! Any thoughts on Swaffham Prior?

CaveMum Fri 12-May-17 19:17:30

Don't know much about Swaffham Prior. It is on a bit of a rat run for Cambridge commuters trying to avoid the A14.

I do know one if the mum's at DD's nursery (who funnily enough lives in Burwell) is considering the primary school in Swaffham Prior for her DD as she works in Cambridge and it will make drop off/pick up easier for her if she's in a school en route to her job.

marushka82 Mon 22-May-17 21:02:28

We've done a lot of viewings today in Burwell, Isleham and Stretham as well as Witchford. All areas seemed great so thank you again for recommendations. One house that grabbed our attention is in Stretham - do any of you live there and could give me some more info? I like the fact it's between Ely and Cambridge and saw the school has a good rating as well as is not oversubscribed (if anyone has experience of getting their children into the school after the school year started could you please share? If the school has a place do you make an in year application once you've exchanged contracts?). I saw a playground, a pub and I was told there is a small shop.
Any other input would be very very appreciated!

Crocvillagemum Mon 22-May-17 22:09:28

St Ives is a lot better for commuting since the guided busway opened, especially if the commuter works on the Sci Park.

Wish2 Tue 23-May-17 10:13:59

Stretham is a great, thriving village. There is indeed a shop and the pub is lovely. It is certainly a village I would consider living in, I preferred it to Isleham (I lived in Isleham for a while and found it to be very insular), I have also lived in Burwell, again that was a great community.

marushka82 Tue 23-May-17 10:24:29

Wish2, thank you! I loved what I saw of the village but my view might be skewed by the fact that I really really love the house.
Whereabouts is the shop in the village? I couldn't really see it on the map smile
And another question: do Tesco or Sainsbury's deliver to Stretham?

Wish2 Tue 23-May-17 10:44:19

Opposite the church and pub, there used to be a little beauty salon above the shop too (the shop is also the local PO), in fact the GP surgery is next door to the shop. Yes both supermarkets deliver to Stretham as do Ocado and Asda.

marushka82 Tue 23-May-17 10:52:36

Excellent, thank you again!
Now, just need to decide whether oil heating is appropriate or potential pain in the backside...

Wish2 Tue 23-May-17 11:25:11

If you go for it try to order oil in the summer, it tends to be cheaper then. We used to fill the tank as full as possible in the summer months for use over the winter. Oil fired heating is fairly standard in lots of villages round these parts, at least the electric supply is more reliable than it used to be when I first moved to Cambridgeshire (our electric was forever going on and off, now it only happens very occasionally).

marushka82 Tue 23-May-17 11:44:24

Thanks a lot Wish, you've given me a ton of useful info. I've read a bit about the oil heating pros and cons and it seems not ideal, but doable. I think many people dislike the fact that you have to pay money up front/in bulk sum rather than having it spread out over a year, but we've always had savings so this wouldn't be a problem. Are you living in Stretham or around?

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