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Stay on in Blackheath or move to Canada Water?

(26 Posts)
Daphne33 Fri 15-Dec-17 21:50:09

Hi all,
Recently relocated to London to my husband's flat near the Blackheath area.

We are considering to move though and have our eye on Canada Water because we see a larger Asian/Oriental community there with mixed kids too (I am Asian), its nearer on the tube to the city and it seems a bit more compact in terms of amenities (all just concentrated in the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre). The thing I find about Blackheath is it's always a bus ride somewhere. Even if we drive (we don't have a car atm), I observe there's always heavy traffic going into the village on weekends anyway.

We are now expecting a baby next summer.
And wherever I look, I keep hearing that Blackheath/Greenwich is wonderful for kids, babies, sahms (which I may become). Maybe its winter, I've just moved here and I haven't really noticed this. We have a couple of my husband's friends in this area but none have kids.

What would you think? For family life/schools/babies, would you look to move elsewhere in Blackheath (maybe walking distance closer to the village and then commute via the National Rail) or Greenwich (I find the bit near North Greenwich quite colourless though), or start up again in Canada Water? How's Canada Water for babies/sahms/kids?

Any kind insight you can give would be helpful.
Thank you!

Kbear Fri 15-Dec-17 21:55:14

Stay in Blackheath - I'd say much more going on for families there, it's a real community.

TheVeryHungryDieter Fri 15-Dec-17 22:21:03

Would also stay in blackheath. I've lived in Bermondsey - one stop from CW - and the things I would say about that is, yes it's great for getting into central. Realistically you are not going to be going into central regularly with a tiny baby. You are more likely to be taking buses with a pram because unless you sling, it's horrific getting around lines that aren't jubilee with an infant. Also CW is quite soulless and industrial and there's no green space, although it's nice to be on the river there really isn't much locally in terms of amenity spaces. There are baby groups - there's a rotherhithe breastfeeding group and a few different things through CW library, which is lovely - but I would think for variety BH might be better. When March comes and the days start to stretch, it will be much nicer where you are and greener and in summer there's a lovely cafe vibe in the village, and I think you'll enjoy it a lot more. There are also more things to do in Greenwich which is nearby. If you've come from a distance and don't have family locally, there are more babysitters who are likely to drive to you (which means you don't need to pay for a taxi home afterwards at a cost of ££££). I now live much further out than blackheath but am grateful to be where I am for schools and green space reasons - this gets so much more important once they can walk. If your husband commutes by tube I can tell you that CW is an awful connection to make in the mornings and if you travel at peak times you quite often have to wait 3-4 trains to get on. Surrey Quays is convenient but it's really not somewhere you will want to spend a lot of time or enjoy going. I do miss the massive and well-stocked tesco but despite living close I've rarely needed anything that warranted going there. Sign up for online groceries - tesco or ocado are good and reliable, the Sainsbury's app is poor IMO and Asda only deliver in certain postcodes, and amazon prime, and you're good to go.

It's a bad time of year to make this call, especially if you've just arrived. I know blackheath is expensive but you could consider moving towards a train line like Lee or Beckenham and find that you still have good access to Central London from the suburbs.

MaryWortleyMontagu Fri 15-Dec-17 22:26:53

Stay in blackheath! I live here with one child and would definitely not want to raise her anywhere else. Green space, excellent links to Greenwich and further afield to London. Fantastic skills, loads of facilities and family friendly activities. I am completely biased and I don't know cw well, but i can't imagine anywhere else offering what blackheath does.

alltheworld Fri 15-Dec-17 22:30:06

You need to think about schools. Maybe there is a third option?

KittyVonCatsington Fri 15-Dec-17 22:32:40

I’m in Blackheath and it is just amazing when you have a little one-the community of Mums and Dads here is amazing and so many places are very accommodating for children. Can’t comment on Canada Water but I can reassure you that you won’t feel lonely or have a lack of things to do, with a baby, here-plenty of things don’t cost a penny or are very cheap.

Daphne33 Fri 15-Dec-17 23:06:01

Thanks for all your input so far.

As expected, everyone always has such wonderful things to say about Blackheath. I wonder why I just haven't felt the vibe yet. We go to Catholic church there too but that's our only window to possible community life. The Gail's is always full of individual families (are there any possible weekday coffee mornings I can pop in and make friends at?) and we go there some weekend mornings too but for the moment, we are probably out of place as we don't have kids.

I really like the Tesco at CW, it has a great international selection as well which is great for my Asian cooking.

I used to live in London before but my friends are on the SW/Central and mostly single/non-family.

We (or at least, I) expect our activities to be alot more local once we have a baby so not really thinking of commuting by tube with a baby.
The reason for the want of a convenient tube is more for my husband to commute to Liverpool St. We are currently about 6-8 bus stops away from BH Village but he doesn't take the national rail. He takes tube from North Greenwich instead.
He somehow feels walking to a tube stop like Canada Water would be more convenient than bus-sing to a train or tube station cos the commute would then depend on road conditions as well. Not quite aware as yet of the crowd at CW of course..

At the moment, as I had just arrived for a couple months, (as pregnant as no. of months I am here really), I haven't yet got a job so no commute needs for me and with the baby, we may look into me staying at home instead. So affordable/cheap activities would definitely be something to keep in mind.

Lastly for schools, I'm not sure if we will stay here till primary school age or we may return to my home country (Singapore) where we have an excellent (& free) primary school education system. But I'd be interested to know if BH does have good schools, and also nurseries.
Thanks for sharing re babysitters but I was just wondering do they up the price for BH residents? We have a cleaning lady twice a month and she's great, but I'm surprised we are paying equivalent/higher than Central London (but maybe Central has more competition in this regard too).

Yes, it's probably not the best time to be exploring BH in the winter but if we only wait till late spring, then I would think it would be more difficult in terms of my mobility by then.

Pls continue to share your thoughts as I do appreciate learning more from people who have had the experience.

LesserSpottedLurker Fri 15-Dec-17 23:06:08

I would suggest looking at the new Greenland estate that's being finished in Surrey Quays.

There is a nursery on the complex, an awful lot of young families in the area, and a good mix of Asian / young families.

Surrey Quays high street is still a little dodge, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. Greenland f place has a lovely feel to it, two cafes (Pear Tree and ought Way Cafe). Its walking distance from the riverboat, lots of green space on the rotherhithe side, just a short stroll away.

You have wavelengths a bus trip away for water babies, Greenwich is walking distance, and the area is due to change a fair bit over the next few years due to the Canada Water Development plan www.canadawatermasterplan.com

If you work in the city you have a choice of commuting, overground, tube, bus or riverboat. The riverboat is amazing if heavily pregnant!!

Daphne33 Fri 15-Dec-17 23:11:01

@LesserSpotterLurker,

Thank you for your insight in CW. We -are- specifically looking around the Greenland Dock area and we actually already saw something we both really like. A little older than where you mentioned (and we've been to Pear Tree and the Plough Way Cafe haha) but much closer to Surrey Quays shopping centre/Canada Water tube. We did not yet go to the high street.
We also discovered the green space of Russia Woods nearby.

LesserSpottedLurker Fri 15-Dec-17 23:17:49

Oh, I forgot to mention Mama Pho Cafe as a selling point, and there is a urban zoo 10 mins walk along the river.

If you are expecting, the midwives at Surrey Docks Health Centre are superb, and its a short walk from Greenland. I gave birth at St Thomas at the midwife led unit and brought the baby home by riverboat. Couldn't have had better care.

Oh, and I've included a map to make it clear where I mean, as I didn't do a fab job on the first post.

LesserSpottedLurker Fri 15-Dec-17 23:23:11

Crossed post with you @Daphne33

The older builds can be lovely, a little more space for your money, but may need tarting up a little compared to Greenland.

Sounds like you know the area week already. It really is becoming nicer, if you like sichaun then Ma Po on the high street is great. Its probably the best thing there. Being a short hop from Canary wharf does help make up for the high street.

There is a breast feeding group in the park opposite Canada Water / Tesco as well, which would be good for meeting new mum's.

TheVeryHungryDieter Fri 15-Dec-17 23:33:11

OP, if you've just arrived and you haven't yet got children or a job, I'm not surprised Blackheath isn't calling to you. To be brutal, you're not its target demographic yet and I'm not surprised you don't fit in. In the meantime I'd suggest working out your routes towards Greenwich and exploring that area as it has more for you to do now while you're not tied down but is still pretty local.

I adored living in SE16 without kids, and the first year with just one was great, but definitely prefer it in suburbs now just for how much easier it is to get to certain things. There was a steep upgrade in the quality of preschools too - I found the care more focused rather than lovingly chaotic. My son adores chaos but it did him the world of good and he learned so much more.

If I were you I'd probably move towards Beckenham (like me!) and learn to drive. Then there's the train for your other half which goes to Cannon St/London Bridge, you can get out to Wing Yip in 20 mins and load up the boot to your heart's content with lovely Asian food, you live somewhere that still has green spaces and a village feel but is cheaper than BH. There's a not-too-high but not-insignificant Asian population too, at least from what I see at school gates.

You could also consider Forest Hill. Loads of young families recently moved to the area, a town centre, close to Horniman/Sydenham (IFC in Sydenham good for Asian ingredients) and it's on the overground line. Downside is expensive, plots are small and there's pressure on nursery places because of aforementioned young families.

A lot of it depends on whether you plan to work after little one comes along. Your childcare needs will have to factor in the length of your commute too and sometimes that comes at the cost of quality (or just the cost of £££).

blueshoes Fri 15-Dec-17 23:56:20

As a person who grew up in Singapore, I can understand your attraction to Surrey Quays over Blackheath/Greenwich, especially since you have just arrived. The vibe at Surrey Quays is more similar to what you are familiar with and there is also a higher oriental/Asian population.

Unless you have a job, you would probably find it harder to make friends initially, more so in Blackheath or Greenwich than Surrey Quays. Is your husband British or Singaporean?

Between Greenwich and Blackheath, Greenwich is more touristy, has more young people (Greenwich University) and younger families. It will probably appear to you more at this stage than Blackheath. Blackheath has bigger houses - these are the areas close to the Village - and better schools. These schools are mostly independent sector though there is a wider choice of state schools, including grammars in Kent at 11+. If you plan to leave before your children are school age, then schools will not figure into your choice. Otherwise Blackheath is probably the best for schools and the reason we moved from Greenwich to Blackheath after the children hit school age.

A lot of it depends on your budget as well and how close you need to be to a station.

blueshoes Sat 16-Dec-17 00:07:41

If you have a car, you have all shopping amenities within easy reach of Blackheath/Greenwich - there is a big See Woo in Horn Lane. Bugsby Way has a huge Next, Primark, Aldi, M&S, Sports Direct, H&M, Sainsbury, Wickes, B&Q. IKEA is also opening in the area. Lewisham shopping centre is near Blackheath. Not forgetting the O2 in North Greenwich.

It is baby central in Greenwich and Blackheath. I am not so familiar with Surrey Quays/Canada Water except I knew families who used to send their children to my daughter's school in Blackheath and it was not an easy drive.

Adarajames Sat 16-Dec-17 01:19:37

Large Asian supermarket in charlton, not far from blackheath. BlackHeath is an exspensive area, but full of 'yummy mummies' (horrible expression , sorry) so lots baby groups etc, most of primaries in that area are top rated as well if you do stay that long

itshappening Sat 16-Dec-17 01:53:19

Have you considered Westcombe Park area OP, moving there would give you access to national rail into Cannon Street for your husband, and walking distance to Blackheath village across the Heath. Also very near Greenwich Park. Or going closer to the village itself would allow him access to rail link without buses.

Canada Water is an area I like but I think while not working or with a baby or young child Blackheath offers more in the way of green spaces and shops/coffee shops/things to do. They could both be good areas for you though.

If you do go with Canada Water..... Just in case you look at the Quebec Quarter development , bear in mind construction disruption. I really like it, flats are bigger and have more storage than most, and you have the woods, but it is going to be a huge building site for some time which might get you down being at home in the day. There is still much of the quarter to be completed. Just in front of Quebec Quarter, on the opposite side to the Russia dock woodlands, King's College are also building a campus that will be under construction for ten years or so.

Daphne33 Sat 16-Dec-17 14:22:56

@LesserSpottedLurker,
Do you mean Cafe East Vietnamese? We didn't see a Mama Pho yet at SQ/CW.
Thank you for making the map, I know where you mean.

@TheVeryHungryDieter
Exactly, you hit the nail on the head. I think both husband and I are not feeling that we are the crowd for Blackheath at the moment. He's had this flat for 5 years though cos it was a good/affordable buy in his opinion back then.

But I'm realising also that with the bub on the way, I may well become part of the target demographic so now unsure if we should re-look at a bigger home in this area but closer to Blackheath (rail station)/Greenwich or move out.
I am able to drive and also used to drive everywhere back home so actually I find it a bit of getting used to for depending on the buses in this area. Initially, we didn't intend to get a car as the plan was likely I would go back to work in the City/central (before we knew I was pregnant).

@blueshoes
Yes, and I think husband likes Surrey Quays for similar reasons too, seeing as that he really liked Singapore whilst he was there working. He's European but also holds British citizenship. Blackheath strikes me as very much more British and we see ourselves as quite international couple, as are our friends. As he was away for most of the year, his friends are sort of still in the newly married (that's us too btw)/new couple/busy City worker-bachelor stages so nobody has kids.

We haven't yet decided if we will school our children here. I would think it depends on where we are at that point, how integrated I have become together with the child/ren in the community here (with/without a job being completely different in this respect). Are you Singaporean too by any chance?

As a newcomer and very new mum-to-be, I tend to fall back on what's familiar to me and the Singapore school system is something I had navigated through myself and even now vicariously through friends with older kids and since education is a bit of national obsession there. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the Singapore system but it can be quite a battle too for a few select schools there and whilst I have good alumni links to an all-girls' back there, my husband does not so if we do end up having only boys, we may have to battle the school system back there too anyway.

Yes I'm actually quite familiar with that part of Charlton retail park/Millenium retail park. smile I go sometimes to the Asda, SeeWoo, Homesense and actually did my early ultrasound scan at the new Mothercare (where they have an ultrascan clinic).

Daphne33 Sat 16-Dec-17 14:39:05

@itshappening

Thank you, no I have not heard of Westcombe Park actually. I will have a look too. I really have not done much exploring this part of London at all. And thanks for the tip re Quebec Quarter, I know where you mean and that part right atop the tube area looks too busy for him. He likes quiet, lots of green and water.

See, the thing about CW/SQ is that it feels I've walked around there more in a day than I've done around Blackheath cos it feels somehow more compactly organised when there's a tube station compared to a rail station in the vicinity. That's just my personal observation of areas in London. Not sure if I am right.

LesserSpottedLurker Sat 16-Dec-17 17:31:22

I think Cafe Mama Pho is the same family as Cafe East. Its literally a few minutes stroll from Greenland place off of the Canal walkway bit. Much much smaller than Cafe East, but excellent food.
cafemamapho.co.uk

I miss there Pho fsad

blueshoes Sat 16-Dec-17 23:54:47

OP, I was Singaporean but been in UK for almost 2 decades hence naturalised. About Blackheath being more British, you would probably be picking up on it being more gentrified. It is a pricier area on the whole than Greenwich or Surrey Quays and the demographic is families with slightly older children. You do have families with newborns, just that they are pretty high earning bankers, lawyers and hedgies.

In the medium term, your decisions vest on where you want your child(ren) to be schooled i.e. Singapore or UK and if UK, state or private. I have friends in Singapore with children around secondary school age. The Singapore system is intense and the hurdles seem hardwired and high. Some of my friends are looking to send their children to UK/US eventually, particularly those whose children are not thriving under that pressure. Although schools can be competitive in the UK, there are more options for a less academic child. I feel children have more of a childhood in the UK. There is a lot about the UK education system that would seem odd to a Singaporean. To get an equivalent education in UK, even if it may seem that all you are going for is a vanilla standard, I think it is best to have the choice of going independent. I have more observations about the differences between the UK and Singapore education system, but that would probably not be for this thread.

The good thing is if you are able to afford full time private nursery, you probably will be able to afford private school and then university, which at current prices means paying at least £12,000 a year in fees per child. That presupposes you are going back to work if you need both incomes. I find, from looking at the parents of my dcs' friends, that if you live fairly centrally in London (as opposed to commuter belt), which all the areas you list are, it is more likely that both parents will be working.

Perhaps the sex of this child will be a big factor in whether you stay for schools grin

selover Tue 09-Jan-18 13:17:51

I think once you have a baby then you will make friends if you are open and ask people for ideas, things to do etc- babies can be fantastic friend magnets. I would also try to join something like a pregnancy or baby group.

I am really surprised at the lack of Asian friends too. I am white (but born outside of the UK) but have quite a few Asian mum friends that I met at baby groups.

I did wonder if North Greenwich was worth looking at for your situation?

There is an Asian presence there and there are professionals living there - you can walk to North Greenwich and there are new builds.

Or you could look at East Greenwich too.

But honestly Blackheath or Greenwich are great with kids, you can walk around.
Greenwich Park and the maritime museum are great.

I know Canada Water quite well and found it not to be that interesting during the day. This is just my comparison of it to Blackheath.

selover Tue 09-Jan-18 13:19:54

Forget what I said about North Greenwich if you have checked it out. smile

selover Tue 09-Jan-18 13:31:27

Also things for you to check out in or near Blackheath that may come in handy when thinking about family life:

- Blackheath conservatoire - has toddlers groups, an outdoor play areas and cafe and always has stuff on like art classes or music or shows for a wide range of ages. It can be expensive but you can always go to the cafe.

-The Heath - Football / sports on the heath. Every year there is fireworks. Picnics on the heath etc

- Blackheath Village - I think they do a turn on the lights and Carol service in Blackheath.

-Manor park near lee, very family friendly.

-John ball is a great school.

- Farmers market at Blackheath station.

- Walk to Greenwich Park for museums and also the observatory as they often have family things on and themed free events.

-walk to Greenwich market.

There is loads on for example over Christmas my kids went to so many high quality themed free events from meeting Santa to listening to stories.

Local library - depending upon where you go but there are toddler stories. Lego, arts and crafts etc.

Music and dance you can also look at trinity and Laban schools and the Greenwich dance academy.

There is also the Albany theatre in deptford which has children's plays.

In addition there are yoga and sports groups - runners in the park and running buggies etc.

There is a Chinese supermarket Seewoo in se7.

Don't know if the above is of interest?

Daphne33 Fri 12-Jan-18 16:58:05

@selover,

Thanks for your post! Yes, I do know a few of the things you've mentioned - the Sunday Blackheath Farmers Market (we pop in after church ends usually, we go to the Catholic one across the street from the station), the Chinese SeeWoo near the Millennium Retail Park where I go to now sometimes and we recently did view a property very close to John Ball School. I had a peek into the nursery premises and it looks nice. I then looked it up on the School Checker to see its a pretty good school.

I've even joined the Blackheath Mums group on FB just to have a glimpse of what the community could be like.

Would the Asda at retail park still be the closest large supermarket? Somehow, I just can't shake off the fact that I'd need to get on a bus to go to the supermarket (as I do currently. I used to live close to North End Road in Fulham and could walk to 4 different supermarkets there!). The BH property agent said nearest supermarket could be in Lewisham which I don't go to at all currently (I'm closer to Charlton right now).

As it turns out though, it really is a matter of timing and finding the right property that makes us feel right at home so for now, we are still looking in both BH and CW.

selover Fri 12-Jan-18 17:54:14

Do you mean the Asda at se7 ? As there is also m and s, Sainsburys and a whole host of shops there now.

I agree that would be a trek whereas a bus to Lewisham would be quicker.

To be fair we don't have a car at the moment and so I shop online and just go local for top ups.

You sound like you have the area covered though.

I think a house near John Ball would be worth looking at as it will also be close to the station - from what I can tell it is a really good school and has fantastic facilities.

Something to think about is that Blackheath and Greenwich are not well served for state secondaries and to go down the grammar route means intense competition.

Good luck with your decision.

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