Harpendon versus Tring.

(12 Posts)
pyrrah Mon 17-Mar-14 21:09:41

We're thinking of moving out of Central London and after numerous weekends spent driving round the commuter areas, we liked Herts best of anywhere. We've narrowed it down to Harpendon and Tring and really torn between them. We're looking for somewhere for the next 20 years or so, so a big decision.

Our budget is decent, but not in 7 figures. We're looking for 3 bedrooms minimum, small garden and we like quirky older properties or interesting modern. We love Rothschild properties (who doesn't...).

Given we only have one child, it's important that as a teenager she can have a social life and see friends without needing mummy and daddy to drive her everywhere (I grew up miles from anywhere and thank goodness my parents packed me off to boarding school or I'd have gone mad). So, that rules out anywhere really pretty but rural sad

Ideally we'd like her to go to an all-girls secondary - private education 'might' be an option, but if there's a great state one then that would be better.

Harpendon - love everything about it except the house prices. We'd like to be in catchment for St Albans Girls School.

Tring - we really, really liked Tring but not sure what it's like in terms of entertainment for teenage girls. Does the Performing Arts school do Saturday classes or is it just for their own students? The girls grammar in Aylesbury would be an option, but is Tring's own secondary really good?

We're more likely to find a house we love and can afford in Tring, but Harpendon seems like a potentially better bet for DD's future - or are we wrong?

We don't need primary schools - DD will commute to London with us. She already has a 35 minute commute in London traffic so not a big change really. So, if there are areas in Harpendon that have nice houses but are good value because they're in catchment for unpopular primaries that would be of interest.

Would be very grateful for any insights. I've read through a lot of the old threads on MN, but many are rather old now.

sittinginthesun Mon 17-Mar-14 21:36:56

Bumping for you. Can't really help, I'm afraid, other than to say that I like both towns!

Harpi Mon 17-Mar-14 23:15:23

I live quite near Tring and as far as I am aware Tring Arts School does not do Saturday classes. It just teaches its own pupils. However, Aylesbury has several dance schools and a really good new theatre. Tring (Herts) is not catchment for Aylesbury High School (Bucks). You might get in, but if they fill up with Bucks children, you will not get a place. This would be a gamble and, generally, if you want a Bucks grammar school, live in catchment but you could check with them, or Bucks CC, to find out how many out of catchment children they take (it will vary) and what distance from the school they live. Some Bucks people prefer Tring School to the secondary schools in Bucks but would always choose Aylesbury High if their DD passes the 11+. There is also Berkhamsted Collegiate nearby if you want independent. I actually think Berkhamsted is nicer than Tring, but pricier.

I know quite a lot of people from Harpenden and it is more up-market than Tring. Prices reflect this. Lots more independent schools to choose from. Shopping better too. I would seriously look at Berkhamsted though. Good links to London, station is in the town, unlike Tring, and lots going on with a good variety of shops and restaurants on the High Street. I don't know anything about the comprehensive in Berkhamsted (Ashlyn's?).

pyrrah Tue 18-Mar-14 19:08:59

Would be a good idea if I learnt to spell Harpenden correctly! grin

Thanks Harpi, that's all really useful to know.

We looked at Berkhamsted, and while we liked it, we didn't love it - not sure why, maybe just a bit big or something.

The station thing is a tricky one. Tring you know you have to drive to it, but the road doesn't look like it would get congested. The one in Harpenden, being in the town might be more tricky in rush-hour (no experience so might be wrong).

I don't mind a 10 minute walk or so, but the surgeons are likely to be sticking a load of metal-ware in my spine in the near future so long walks may be difficult and DD has short legs at 4!

We've been spoilt by London public transport and so need to anticipate not having a convenient bus every 5 minutes!

Independent school would be a choice if DD was v unhappy at a state school - or if the state options were dire. Where we currently live has superb primaries but something seems to go awry when it comes to secondary and we would have to scrap together school fees if we stayed here (and if she passed the exams).

Very interesting to know that people would chose AHS over Tring school if they had the choice. St A's girls school seems like a no-brainer unless school fees are basically pocket change - their results seem phenomenal.

Lots of food for thought...

newgirl Thu 20-Mar-14 19:02:20

Do you mean the private school St Albans High School for Girls or the state school St Albans Girls School (stags)?

I'm pretty sure you won't get stags from Harpenden - the catchment is St ALbans and you need to be very close or get one of the lottery places which can be just 20 or so.

The High School - girls come from far and wide and I'm sure plenty from Harpenden.

newgirl Thu 20-Mar-14 19:04:30

If you are catholic, Loreto College in St A might be worth looking at.

JustADadHere Thu 20-Mar-14 21:49:06

STAGS actually has a bigger catchment than just St Albans. Plenty of girls from Radlett end up there and I am sure some from Harpenden would too. St George's in Harpenden is quite good and I knew a parent that loves it.

Personally, I would choose Harpenden. Tiring has always seemed a little too disconnected for me - Harpenden has an easy link to London and seems a lot more "hip". It would be considerably more expensive though...

prettytired Thu 20-Mar-14 22:50:46

Harpenden is 'busier' than Tring. So if you're expecting good public transport links coming from London, that won't be the case in Tring.

However, Harpenden is lovely, but slightly dull in a way, just the high street and the common and nothing else. I always enjoy a day there, but feel if I lived there, I'd be bored.

I'd go for St.A - you'll find it less of a shock from Central London compared to Harpenden and Tring compared to London, well it'll be like living in the sticks!

In St.A you have a beautiful city centre, cathedral, best park in Herts, transport links, plenty of shopping, bars, restaurants, great schools and an amazing new cinema due to be opened on London Road - odysseypictures.co.uk/.

Incidentally, it's from the guy who owns The Rex in Berkhamsted, so I'm sure will be just as special - therexberkhamsted.com/

You're also only 5 minutes (by train) to Harpenden, although the traffic in St.A is a nightmare on market days.

However, in response to your original question, I'd go for Harpenden, the house prices reflect this is the 'better choice'.

St.George's is very well though of and has a tight catchment area even in Harpenden. I know someone who is paying for her dc to board there, just to get a place - they live in St.A!

Good luck

newgirl Fri 21-Mar-14 19:19:15

I think check the Herts school website re stags - yes you can get place from Radlett, brick wood but I don't know any from harp personally.

Kazzaragi Tue 25-Mar-14 00:26:12

I would say Harpenden is a better bet. Then St Albans. I think Tring would be further down my list than Berkhamsted. However I do know people that ended up in Tring as housing was better priced for their budget and needs and they are very happy with their choice.
I am a STAGS alumni and had friends from Radlett, St Albans, Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampsted. Ofcourse catchment probably changes annually.

Cosmosis1 Wed 02-Apr-14 21:52:08

Have you thought about Hitchin? Much prettier than Harpenden, very friendly, lovely houses and picturesque town and fantastic primaries and also outstanding single sex girls and boys secondaries.

LisaBookMums Thu 03-Apr-14 18:28:03

Also an ex-Londoner, I moved from Harps to St Albans for lurv, but both are fab! There really is no such thing as a bad school around here. Just your preferences really. The Village (as you would call it if you became a Harpie Girl) may look like a quaint High Street in the day, but it has a good social scene with lots of bars and restaurants. The schools are all excellent. (I know Harps pals who had their girls at STAGS so the catchment does extend).

I guess I would choose Harps over Tring because it is better connected to everything. As I said on another thread, you can reach every major European destination from around here being based between M1/M25/A1(M) and Luton Airport. Trains into the city are only 20 mins.

Harps is always in the top 10 for house prices so, if this is going to be your next 20 yr house, you know your investment is safe. The upside of the station is you can still get a seat at Harps whereas they've almost always all gone by StA but, as you say, the parking is a bit of a pig (which is why most folks walk/go early).

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