Moving to Cambridge - recommendations for villages?

(29 Posts)
joeybopp Sat 13-Oct-12 13:40:44

My husband and I have recently moved to Girton with our young baby but we are just renting here and looking to buy. We cannot afford to buy in Girton and are looking for recommendations for villages. Our budget is 200K for 3 beds which we realise is not a lot for the area. Good schools are top of our priority list. We are both Oxbridge educated ourselves but won't be able to afford private education for our son. My husband works in the city centre (Huntingdon Road) and I am currently a stay at home mum although I'd like to return to work when we've finished our family! We currently attend a city centre church and would like some green space for walks (we have just moved from Sheffield where green space is abundant!)

besty27 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:35:11

Ever thought of going the other way - Fenstanton/Fen Drayton, Swavesey and Over and Longstanton are all lovely villages that would fall into your price range and there is the guided busway straight into Cambs that picks up from Fen Drayton, Swavesey and Longstanton. Not far from St Ives which is a gorgeous town, Swavesey which has an outstanding primary school and of course there is a RSPB nature Reserve (green space, lakes and walks for miles) that sits in the middle of them all, in Fen Drayton which my young kids absolutely love. You also have ready access to the A14. Just a thought.

joeybopp Fri 02-Nov-12 04:23:38

Hi all

We've thought a bit more and at present narrowed the options down to Comberton, Bourne? & Cambourne (West) and villages south (Sawston? Linton? Royston and area?) (my parents lived in royston and liked it. Although not cam, schools look ok)

We haven't visited the southern villages yet but I like the countryside (hills!) and if there's any possibility of me returning to work in healthcare it would be more convenient for addenbrookes.

Is anyone able to advise on commuting from any of these areas? I've had some advice on the west but anymore thoughts appreciated too. DH works on castle hill currently with parking but his offices might be relocating to the city centre next year - not sure about parking. He works flexible hours as long as he does a 7.5hr day (usually without a lunch break) and all combinations of transport arrangements considered at this stage (car/bike/public transport). Unlike myself he's not a huge cyclist (despite the excellent cycle network here, although that might change once he experiences cambridge traffic!)

I know trumpington is being developed so this might affect the commute? Would appreciate any feedback!

Thank you!

NorkilyChallenged Sat 20-Oct-12 12:33:15

Sorry, no way with 3 kids to drop off/pick up and that hill coming home, it'd kill me

buryburybury Sat 20-Oct-12 12:09:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

buryburybury Sat 20-Oct-12 12:09:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NorkilyChallenged Sat 20-Oct-12 11:46:46

Also traffic/commute into Cambridge + huntingdon rd is abysmal, truly. Backed up past roundabout at Madingley Mulch from about 7.30 til after 9 (speaking as a miserable commuter who drives).

NorkilyChallenged Sat 20-Oct-12 11:45:00

I'd prefer Hardwick to Caldecote as it has lots that Caldecote lacks - a pub (a good one that serves v good food), a decent-sized shop, post office. It's also a better size and layout for meeting people (Caldecote is all in one long line). With much experience of both, I've found both a bit cliquey for newcomers. Both schools good tho v different so depends on your preference for style I think. Toft has no primary school

rubyrubyruby Sat 20-Oct-12 11:44:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

joeybopp Sat 20-Oct-12 11:36:11

Thanks very helpful lily maid. What about Shepreth? It has a station. I've thought about Sawston - it sounds functional but not pretty. I think West is still getting my vote at present but open to other suggestions. We will be seriously looking after Christmas so it will depend on what's available.

Lilymaid Fri 19-Oct-12 15:42:14

"I'm not writing off the south as I'm all for hills but I'm not sure where to look?"
South of Cambridge - Sawston (for Sawston VC) - which is cheaper and has more housing stock than the other villages that feed this secondary school.
South East(ish) Linton for Linton VC - largest village for that secondary school - more housing stock but junior school never seems to get a wonderful OFSTED. Balsham/Abington probably better for primary schools but have less housing in your price range.
Green space for walks - Wandlebury/Magog Down are probably the largest open spaces to the south of Cambridge. Plenty of footpaths out of Abington/Balsham/Linton ... some on to hills!

frazzled09 Fri 19-Oct-12 15:28:19

Cambourne is like marmite indeed. The primary schools are big, but this year they were not all full in Reception for the first time - perhaps the birth-boom is tapering off. There are 3 proper Cambourne primaries (big though- 450 ish kids in each), plus the Blue School (Hardwick second campus) which has taken 34 children (in two classes) this year, and will be open for 5 years or so before a possible 4th permanent primary school is built on the new secondary school site.

Cambourne village college will open for age 11 in Sept 2013 as said above. It will be run by Comberton village college as a second campus. DKNYQueen is not right though - currently the vast majority of Cambourne secondary-age kids DO go to Comberton village college. Only those unlucky not to get in have to go further afield.

The infrastructure at Cambourne has improved markedly in the last couple of years, but I agree it is a big development. Good points are wide, safe, numerous footh/cycle paths (even little kids cycle to school safely away from the road), very easy to make friends (unlike the more established, older villages which can be cliquey), more house for your money, lakes and open green spaces to walk round (you won't see them from the roads), take-aways, Indian restaurant, pub (food only average), chemist, church (multi-faith), sports centre with good gym, classes, and activities for kids, plenty of playgrounds, supermarket etc. More shops are on the way for the high street, but planning rejected the original designs so they have to re-submit. The library is a great service. The doctors are nice but getting an appointment is a challenge. Comberton surgery was fabulous in comparison.

I've outed myself as a Cambourne resident here. PM me if you want any info, or a local to show you round on a speculative visit. My DH commutes by bike to work (not far from where your husband will be) in 30-50 mins (50 on the way home, tired and uphill). It's mostly off-road once you know the route.

There is plenty I don't like about it mind you! But that's the same everywhere.

DknyQueen Fri 19-Oct-12 14:08:41

joey Be careful about Comberton because while the preschool and the village college are outstanding, the primary is not great. My DS went there for reception and I was appalled at the staff turnover, silly amount of homework (yes in reception!) and very weak leadership of the head mistress. I have friends with children there and they're not impressed. Also houses tend to be more expensive
than the neighbouring villages just because it's Comberton.
Cambourne is like marmite. Personally I don't like it at all. It's a huge development site with little infrastructure and everything is overcrowded, including the primary schools. This September Hardwick school has opened a subsidiary in Cambourne called the Blue School because there weren't enough places at the other two primaries. Also a village college will open for the first time in 2013 (at the moment Cambourne children had to travel to Cambridge or Impington from yr 7 because Cambourne is not in the Comberton village college catchment area).

joeybopp Fri 19-Oct-12 13:58:58

I'd forgotten that - he might be forced onto a bike! Thanks for the links.

Lilymaid - I'm not writing off the south as I'm all for hills but I'm not sure where to look? Ideally we'd like to be in Cambridgeshire in case we want Hills Road catchment eventually (a very long time ahead!). I actually lived in Royston until I was 4 so don;t remember it but my mum really liked it. But that's Hertfordshire and I don;t know about schools there.?

GrendelsMum Fri 19-Oct-12 13:51:22

If he's on Castle Hill, that's essentially the city centre, so I wouldn't worry about buses - when you said Huntingdon Road I thought you meant out towards Girton.

Don't forget that if his job moves to the city centre, he may not have parking, so he'll still need to take the bus or cycle.

This one in Comberton looks nice -

or here's one in Caldecote

Lilymaid Fri 19-Oct-12 13:47:00

If your DH is relocating to the city centre next year you can widen your net a little (unless Comberton VC is compulsory). If you go down to the south of the county, we have small hills!

joeybopp Fri 19-Oct-12 13:43:11

Thanks I think now I need to visit Caldecote as I like the look of what I've seen online. I think at present it's Comberton (schools outweigh transport issues), Caldecote and possibly Cambourne. I've heard elsewhere that Hardwick is a bit bland and I wasn't overly impressed when I drove through but perhaps I didn't see the best.

DH works at the top of Castle Hill and might be relocating to city centre next year so transport to city centre is fine. He cycles at present but I'm not sure I can convince him to cycle that far (I would!) - I'll try!!

TiAAAAARGHo Fri 19-Oct-12 12:59:45

Cherry Hinton perhaps

BlueChampagne Fri 19-Oct-12 12:55:41

Traffic going into Cambridge may turn him into a cyclist! Look at routes here

GrendelsMum Thu 18-Oct-12 21:41:40

Ah, the Citi 4 bus! I thought it was the 18a to Caldecote.

Could the DH get off the Citi4 at the Observatory and cut through the Observatory via Storey's Way to Huntington Road? I'm guessing he's at the old NIAB site (or current NIAB site).

DknyQueen Thu 18-Oct-12 21:26:53

Public transport into Cambridge is fine from both Hardwick or Caldecote. It's the same bus. here
If it's for you yo get into town then it'd be fine but I don't see how your DH can get to Huntigdon Road by public transport. He would need to change bus and it'd just be too complicated.
If he travels by car, it would take him 15 minutes with no traffic and up to 40 minutes with morning traffic to get from Caldecote/Hardwick to Huntigdon Road. The problem is usually the part of Madingley Road before the M11 exit.
Caldecote is a brilliant village. The primary school is very good (check the tables and there is also a play group/preschool. Hardwick also has a play group/preschool although I sent mine to Comberton play group because it has extended hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 4 pm) and the best reputation.
Caldecote has a village hall and convenience store and a hairdresser (avoid!!). There're plenty of open fields and footh paths if you enjoy walking. It is also a very friendly village.
Tbh there isn't a lot nod difference between the two villages. I think house are slightly cheaper because it's farther away from Cambridge (that's the best measure of house prices in this region, I'm afraid).
I've lived in this area for many years so please do let me know if I can be of further help!

GrendelsMum Thu 18-Oct-12 20:55:06

I think that Caldecote's a lovely location - but I think it doesn't have the good public transport that you wanted? Can't swear to it, but I think that's the case. There are plenty of lovely villages (e.g. Bourne, Kingston is gorgeous) but you won't get public transport and if you don't cycle, you'll be a bit stuck.

joeybopp Thu 18-Oct-12 11:01:06

Thanks are you able to provide any more info about Caldecot? It doesn't come up much in discussion and whilst I'd liked the look of houses on rightmove I assumed it wasn't a great location...

DknyQueen Wed 17-Oct-12 20:03:33

Hi, we live in one of the villages that you're considering. Even though prices may seem high, it's worth putting in a lower offers because houses are just not selling at the moment. I think you can definitely get a 3 bedroom house for £200K in Comberton Village catchment area.
Hardwick has a very strong community, a post office and a large primary school that was inspected last year and found to be "good".
Caldecote (higjfields) has a vey good primary school and houses are even cheaper than Hardwick but still within Comberton village college catchment.
Hardwick has mostly 70s style houses whereas Caldecote's are more modern.
If you require any more info just pm me!

frazzled09 Tue 16-Oct-12 20:33:58

Hardwick is good for public transport to town (but the bus gets very full with 6th form college kids at peak times). The same bus will also take you to Cambourne which is a good place to visit for baby groups, toddler activities etc (ask at the children's centre in Cambourne library for the list of activities, and also in the leisure centre). In Hardwick itself there is less going on - a couple of toddler groups only. The post office is like gold dust though, I really miss having my parcels kept in the village if I am out when the postman calls (and having to drive a 24 mile round trip to get them from by Homebase. Grrrr).

We are no longer in Hardwick, (our budget was less than yours when we wanted to upsize) but it is a good village. The primary school is well regarded, and Comberton is the secondary school - also well regarded.

Most of the houses were built in the 1970s in the "Limes" estate. We had a small damp problem, as does my friend in a similar property. I don't know how common the problem is - perhaps we were both unlucky! But I'd advise you to get a proper survey done on anything you offer on.

Toft is lovely, but buses are fewer and farther between. Could be quite isolating if you have no car available in the daytimes.

joeybopp Mon 15-Oct-12 09:27:00

Thanks for the suggestions. Hardwick is looking like the strongest option on paper. I'd hope we could push the budget to 210k in the hope of securing around 200k. My hubby is not a big cyclist so until we have a 2nd car public transport will be essential. I'll look to visit and take a look around the village.

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