Moving to Durham with young children - some help on areas please

(12 Posts)
HoneyBee110 Tue 29-Sep-15 10:30:10

Hello all,
My husband (originally from the North West) and I (from SE) are looking to move to County Durham. Our children are 9 months and 2.5 years old and so we'd be looking at places that have enough around for them and any suggestions on good schools/nurseries would be helpful. Are places easy to get? Or is there usually a long waiting list?
We are currently living in Germany and have been for the last few years that returning back to the UK is really exciting but also really daunting as we have never lived there as parents!
My husband may have the possibility of working from home but if not, he would like to be able to commute to Newcastle. Please could anyone help with suggesting nice areas to live? We're planning to rent before buying but we probably need to consider nurseries already since my oldest should be attending one by the end of next year (at least that's the case in Germany, not sure what it's like in the UK - I am quite clueless about it all!)
Thanks in advance for all your help!

ShadowNova Tue 29-Sep-15 10:58:22

If you're thinking of commuting to Newcastle, then you probably want to be looking at places either close to Durham train station (it's on the east coast main line so I believe trains to Newcastle are pretty frequent), or towards the more northerly end of county Durham. Getting into Newcastle at rush hour by car can take a long while as the routes over the river Tyne get badly congested.

That takes you outside where I'm really familiar with so can't offer informed opinions on areas. Hopefully other people on mumsnet will be able to help with that. Alternatively, if you're on Facebook, there's a Facebook group called Mums In Durham, which might be a useful place to ask for opinions on areas within County Durham. I think it's a closed group so you'd have to request to join.

Re.schools, in general, the number of school age children in county Durham is low enough to mean that you will have a pretty good chance of getting a school place for your child at one of your nearest schools, although there are some areas where schools are oversubscribed (DS1 got offered a place at our second nearest primary school because our nearest primary school was oversubscribed)

The page linked below let's you download an information booklet about applying for a primary school place, the leaflets in the back of that will let you see which primary schools were oversubscribed last year and what distance cut-offs there were for the last place offered.
www.durham.gov.uk/article/2189/Apply-for-a-primary-place

We didn't use a school nursery, but I believe that they offer places either from the term after the child's 3rd birthday, or the school year in which the child turns 4. Not sure which.

Good luck!

HoneyBee110 Tue 29-Sep-15 11:08:36

Thank you so much for your help! - will check out the Facebook page. smile

LadyLuck81 Tue 29-Sep-15 11:12:54

Everything that has already been said really. We live in Gateshead and I can attest to rush our traffic over the river being horrible so the train is definitely a good bet.

If you're talking schools I'd look at a list of the local primaries on the council website, check their ofsted reports as a starting point, then start checking websites to get more of a feel for them.

There are some lovely villages in County Durham, I hope you find somewhere that you are very happy.

PotteringAlong Tue 29-Sep-15 11:18:17

Hello! I live in Gateshead too and really enjoy living here - I've been here 10 years and won't move now.

If it's commute into Newcastle then Durham and Chester-le-street both have direct trains. Are you tied to County Durham? Because further north if you live somewhere on the metro system will give you an excellent way to commute to town. Places like tynemouth on the coast or Gosforth in Newcastle might be worth looking at, or even somewhere like morpeth?

HoneyBee110 Tue 29-Sep-15 13:06:59

Thank you @LadyLuck81 and @PotteringAlong. Funny you should mention Morpeth as I have looked into there and it looks really lovely and definitely something we may consider. But initially we thought a place with a good range of schools and activities for little ones would be better. To be honest we feel like we're just putting a pin in the map at the moment which makes it even more daunting. I know a bit of the area North of Newcastle through close friends who live in very beautiful but sleepy villages, but really I'm just considering things to do for the kids.

Indith Tue 29-Sep-15 13:20:17

Hello, I'm in County Durham too. I live in a little village West of Durham.

If you give us an idea of what you want then there is more scope for suggesting areas.

For schools etc a lot of families go for Newton Hall area which is a suburby type place, walkable still to Durham City Centre so good for the train station. Wherever you are in the area then there is loads for families.

If you prefer more rural then around the West side of Durham you can drive in to Newcastle along more minor roads and avoid the A1/A167 completely so it isn't too bad. I'm in a place called Waterhouses and around here/Esh Village etc there are several good primary schools and lots to do. I can get to the Benton area of Newcastle in 50 min, plus we have fibre optic broadband to the village (dh works from home a lot!).

I wouldn't stress about nursery although of course school will be a factorwhen you come to buy. From the term after your child's 3rd birthday they will be entitled to 15hrs early education but it is not compulsory and you can have it in a setting of your choice so it can be a school based nursery, a private nursery (most offer it) or a childminder.

HoneyBee110 Tue 29-Sep-15 13:46:35

Thank you @Indith! That's a relief about nurseries. Here, we are on waiting lists already even before the formal application starts in Jan next year to start the September after. Was imagining it to be the same nightmare!

I risk sounding annoyingly vague, for which I apologise smile but off the top of my head, we would love a place that has a nice, welcoming community, not too isolated (by that I mean the nearest Supermarket is at most a 10 min drive away), and would like Durham City to be at most 20min drive away. Schools a walk away if possible and somewhere that feels safe. Young professional families would be a bonus, too. I'd love to find somewhere pretty - though it all seems quite picturesque there anyway smile We live near the Alps at the moment.

Indith Tue 29-Sep-15 15:15:10

I have sent you a PM HoneyBee.

HoneyBee110 Mon 25-Jan-16 12:44:52

Hello again,

Thanks again to all of you for being so helpful. The move is on and if everything goes to plan we'll be settled in Durham by mid-spring smile

Please may I ask you all another favour... I've heard great things about the Mums in Durham Facebook page but try as I may (no less than 11 times now!!) my request is forever being turned down sad

I do promise I'm not trying to sell you all a vast collection of vacuum cleaners, nor am I recruiting for a crazy cult. I would just like to join the group smile ignore my profile pic - it's just the face I was born with ;)

If any of you know the admins please let them know I would like to join (cover photo is currently a cartoon drawing and my initials are MM) I've heard so many mums mention it's a brilliant resource and very friendly, but if I'm turned down a further few times I'm not sure what to think sad

Thank you!!

HoneyBee110 Mon 25-Jan-16 16:18:48

(My "cancel join request" has just now been changed again to "join group" which suggests I've been declined again sad OK I get the hint....)

FleurEX1 Tue 26-Jan-16 10:29:45

Thanks for your thread HoneyBee. We are also hoping to relocate to Durham & the info here is fab!

That Facebook groups sounds a bit unwelcoming though. sad

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