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MNHQ here - can you share your best tips about Cambridge family life?(5 Posts)
Hello lovely Mumsnetters of Cambridge - can we ask you a favour? We're hoping to compile the Mumsnet guide to Cambridge, containing all the things that parents would want to know if they were considering moving over this way. We were wondering if you might chip in some of your vast and hard-won local knowledge to help us (and your fellow parents) out?
Here's an idea of the kind of info we had in mind:
Childcare availability - for example, does everyone have to get their names down at birth to have a hope of getting any? Do people commute or work in town - and if the former, where to and what level of hellish is it?!
How would you describe the overall ambience of the place, or rate it's relative friendliness to children and the adults who grow them? Are there lots of pregnant women to smile at if you're pregnant too? Which are the 'best' roads and why? Conversely, which are the bargain (well, you know... relatively) parts of town? Is there a lot of choice for renters, or is it really tough to find a family home? Is there lots to do if you're looking after small kids, or are you doomed to a certain amount of aimless buggy-pushing to while away the hours?
Are there markets - and if so, are they fancypants ones or standard and useful? What about coffee shops/ department stores/ supermarkets... clothes?
What local facilities are there - clubs, leisure centres, pools and the like? What the schools are like for bigger kids - are there some which are improving, or others which are perceived to be resting on their laurels a bit? What's going on in terms of community action, and is it easy to get involved? What's planned for the future - are there any roads about to plough through the historic centre, for example, or is the local community centre under threat?
Finally, what do you think the best and worst things overall about living here? What are the issues that are really exercising parents right now? And what about its quirks and hidden corners - things you really do have to be a local to know about.
But: we know that there will be loads of other stuff that we haven't considered - so please don't limit yourself to the ideas above. Any and all info, however, brief, will be very gratefully received - as a mark of which, we'll put all your names into a hat and pick one to get a <drumroll> exclusive Mumsnet mug. Not available in shops!
Thanks so much all
I started this thread a while back, because there's some really basic information about Cambridge which people considering moving here (and there are a lot of them) should be aware of: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/local/3100031-Moving-to-Cambridge-some-points-to-ponder
That's phenomenally useful DorothyParker111 - thanks so much. Your OP really does give the Big Picture and the subsequent posts give great detail.
If you, or any other Cambridge MNers have any more info / points / recommendations please do pop them here as and when they occur?
<whispers> As someone who quite recently considered the move from E London to Cambs, I will away to the other thread and ponder my parallel life...
To add to what has been said re workplace parking, there is lots of office construction going on around town and it seems that as part of planning permission the council are really cracking down on parking spaces (to encourage people not to drive into town). There are options such as P&R, bus, train etc but you have to bear in mind the cost (parking at stations outside of town is very expensive for example) and that the P&R will still often have you sitting in traffic (eg Babarham Road still has to slog in via Hills Road with no bus lanes).
The train station isn't central to town (but is handy for a lot of offices) but the bus station is.
It may be worth drawing out that 'The University' isn't a single site/campus. I've seen posts before saying that visiting families want to be 'close' to the University - departments are often on opposite sides of town (eg Education and the Hospital/BioMed campus compared to the maths research ones on the west side near the M11) and the departments which are slap bang in the centre. It's not like eg UEA in Norwich where it's all on one site in Earlham.
Trains to London give you a choice of Kings Cross or Liverpool Street which is useful to know for commuting. The line divides not far south of the city which can affect choice of towns/villages if you're looking outside of town (Duxford, Whittlesford, Saffron Walden for Liverpool Street; places like Royston can be an option for Kings Cross). Haverhill is cheaper because it's nowhere near any mainline train station (same goes for places like Linton although people do drive to Cambridge/Audley End for trains from there).
Not sure on little kid things as DS is older now but in terms of 'culture' stuff there is lots going on - the Arts Theatre is excellent and gets lots of the national tours (eg Art was there recently), Corn Exchange gets the big comedy tours and some bands; the Junction is good for the smaller scale stuff.
If you're moving up from London your money probably won't go as far as you think in terms of houses - it's cheaper than London, but you're not going to sell your 2 bedroom flat in zone 2 and be able to buy a 4 bed with garden in the city centre (which is a suprisingly common misconception).
For the private schools it's not as insanely competetive as the London ones but it is competetive, Astra Zeneca has brought in a lot of new families and competition has increased in recent years. Places for boys are harder to get I think as there is still 1 all girls school (St Mary's) and SPF has only gone mixed for secondary this year. Kids commute into Cambridge by train for school from surrounding areas (private schools and also Hills Road 6th form) and also out from Cambridge to places like Kings Ely.
RockNRollNerd that's fantastically useful - thanks so much. This kind of knowledge is so hard to find unless you're already living in an area or really tapped in.