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Dorking/Reigate/Godalming or Guildford? Advice much needed please!

(18 Posts)
WhereIsTheGreenSheep Tue 06-Dec-11 08:31:25

After a wonderful 8 year stint in Australia my family and I are moving back to the UK (yes some people think we're mad, but we want to be near family again!). DS is 2 1/2 and DD 3 months.

We need all the usual criteria - approx 1 hours commute for DH into the city, somewhere with good schools, not too quiet but not too hectic either, somewhere welcoming where we can make a new friendship group etc etc..

I grew up on the Surrey/Hampshire border so know parts of Surrey well and I've trawled a number of different Mumsnet threads which have been invaluable, but I'm struggling with a few details and it's soooo hard trying to do it all from a computer in a completely different time zone!

We've narrowed down the shortlist to Dorking, Reigate, Godalming and Guildford although I have a few specific questions for each, if you'll bear with me. So...

Dorking - does anyone know anything about St Paul's & St Martin's and their corresponding nurseries? Are there any other good pre-shcools in the area? Dorking doesn't feature much on here - is there a reason? Is it too quiet / dull? What kind of people live there? (I'm in my early thirties so want somewhere with likeminded people and lots of child friendly activities). Are there any particular hot spots in terms of areas to live / ones to avoid?

Reigate - thanks to Mumsnet it seems the Priory and Holmesdale are the popular schools, but what about pre-schools? Again, what is the general vibe of the place / people etc...? And same Q re where to live / not live? Also how long does the total commute to London end up being if most people go from Redhill? And I recently read a really scathing review of how 'chavvy' Redhill is - is that the case and does it affect Reigate?

Godalming - I've identified the Busbridge area as good for schools, are there any others? And what about pre-schools? I've also heard house prices are pretty steep, does that mean Godalming is a place for only the very wealthy? Do 'normal' people live there too?! (sorry - hope I don't offend, but you know what I mean!)

Guildford - I know this place relatively well for shopping, but where do people actually live?! And does living slightly out of the centre mean the commute time then becomes quite a lot more?

Blimey, hope I haven't been too cheeky with all these questions? As I said it's so tricky trying to plan a move like this and honest opinions seem to be the best source of info.

Thanks in advance for your help.

LIZS Tue 06-Dec-11 08:44:51

Reigate is much smarter overall than Redhill and has plenty going on around and about. Journey time is about 40 minutes to Victoria or London Bridge but you may have to change at Redhill outside peak times, or park there (Gloucester Road pay and display) for a quicker trip with more trains. In Surrey you would need to apply for a Reception school place about this time next year if your ds is 4 before September 2013. In most Reigate schools you have an infant then junior system so have to reapply at 7, places are very competitively fought over and no guarantees of a place. Wray Common is one of the few that goes through to 11 iirc. Woodhatch/Dovers Green to the south is less well regarded than central and other areas of Reigate. hth

lukewarmMulledWhine Tue 06-Dec-11 09:19:10

I'd vote for Dorking, 'tis lovely - very beautiful and a not too small (ie lots of restaurants and pubs, and decent shops). It's also not too big, in that there aren't really any terrible places you can live, and all quite near to each other. Schools are good throughout and property prices not especially unreasonable for surrey, as the commute is quite long (compared to e.g. Woking). My brother and his family used to live there, and its near to where I grew up - I think the general 'people' are quite down to earth, a nice mix of age groups, and slightly less of the stereotypical surrey mummy cliques (but still lots of young families, active NCT etc). The only annoying thing is the leagues of cyclists at the weekends heading for the hills. But I'd love to move there, and we might well do in the future...

Guildford is much bigger, and as far as I know, to live in the catchment for the decent comp, you are pretty far away from the station and the centre of town, and in not so pretty an area.

Don't know much about the others, except, as you say, Godalming is quite pricey!

mummytime Tue 06-Dec-11 09:20:56

Guildford you need to decide how your DH is going to get to the station, and exactly where he is going to work (in London). Cost of parking at the Main station is very high (its cheaper in Woking), however if he walks or bikes it is very do-able. Alternatively if he takes the slightly slower London Road, Cobham line, then he gets a seat and parking at Clandon for example is much cheaper. You want to live south of the A3 roughly. People live throughout the town centre (it is narrow to the south so you can live within 10 minutes of both the town centre and the countryside), and out to Merrow and Burpham. If in Merrow and Burpham you do have to plan getting to the station, but may not have to move again, as you are in George Abbot catchment.
Schools are generally good (even the "other" secondaries aren't that bad).

WhereIsTheGreenSheep Tue 06-Dec-11 10:25:48

Thanks for the info so far. Dorking is our current favourite, but I wasn't sure if it was perhaps a bit too small / sleepy. I guess not and good to hear the people are nice too.

lukewarm - Do you know anything about the nursery schools in Dorkin or St Paul's / St Martin's primaries? We're planning to rent in our chosen area for the first 6 months or so, so can choose a house based on preferred school.

mummytime - great advice re. Guildford commute. It sounds like it could be a little trickier than commuting from the likes of Dorking / Reigate because of the size of the town. Will investigate further.

lukewarmMulledWhine Tue 06-Dec-11 10:38:21

I don't know much about the schools. I know St Martin's was going to be my DB's child's school, and they were v happy about that (and the attached pre-school). Had some new building work done recently as well (not sure what though - not very helpful I know!). And when I talked to him about me possibly moving there, and mentioned the Rose Hill (?) area, he said St Paul's was excellent as well, plus a very nice area.

Basically, either are good options I think, and as ever, you'd have to visit in person to see what might suit you and your child, plus read up on the ofsteds etc. The Ashcombe school has, and has always had, an extremely good reputation for secondary and sixth form.

ImNotaCelebrity Tue 06-Dec-11 11:29:15

Reigate is lovely, but schools places in crisis with no sign of improving, largely due to the high number of families moving into the area, plus massive amount of building and no new schools to accommodate.

lukewarmMulledWhine Tue 06-Dec-11 11:48:20

By the way - have you tried posting on the MN local pages? You might catch some more posters there...

MigratingChestnutsOnAnOpenFire Tue 06-Dec-11 17:24:13

Another vote here for Dorking. its a bit smaller than Reigate and sits beautifully in the countryside. alsways found it to be a very friendly place to live but know nothing about the pre-school angle.

Reigate is bigger abd has some nice resources. My understanding is the competition for school places there is very stiff indeed leaving quite a few unhappy families. Soemone will come along who could confirm that perhaps?

MigratingChestnutsOnAnOpenFire Tue 06-Dec-11 17:44:02

sorry...rushed that last post! terrible spelling.

WhereIsTheGreenSheep Tue 06-Dec-11 21:27:33

Wow - lovely to wake up here to more advice. Thanks so much! Good to hear some positive things about Dorking.
LIZS / MigratingChesnuts / Imnotacelebrity - I had heard that about Reigate schools. So is it worse than other areas and why?

lukewarm - good idea about posting on Mumsnet Local. How do I go about doing that though? I'm new to Mumsnet so haven't got it all worked out yet! Will there be separate pages for Dorking/Reigate etc or one for the local area?

Thanks!

rubyblue Tue 06-Dec-11 21:32:07

Godalming is a really nice, pretty town and close to Guildford for the shops. Two iffy primary schools - Losely Fields and Green Oak - or so I've heard. Busbridge is massively over-subscribed and property 'up the hill' costs at least 100k more. Infant schools are better. I've heard Farnham is nice and cheaper, about an hour into the city.

piellabakewell Tue 06-Dec-11 21:54:16

My DD is at school in Reigate, but she is 14 so a little older than yours smile

She's thriving at a state boarding school that also takes day pupils, should you be in the area when you're looking for a secondary school!

She boards, so I can't comment on the area except to say it is blindingly obvious as a visitor that Reigate is WAY posher than Redhill (eg East for fashion rather than New Look).

LIZS Wed 07-Dec-11 07:23:36

I think the Reigate situation is largely because of the density of the population and siblings usually take priority, so furthest distance admitted could vary from one year to the next, and a snobbery about certain schools. Also the number of cases where people don't get their first choice is magnified by the two stage application process. Dorking is a nice town but again areas do vary and demand for some schools outstrips others.

mummytime Wed 07-Dec-11 07:54:11

There is property very near the station in Guildford, and the infant schools are good (ST Nicholas and Onslow First, although some do manage to get into Pewley Down). Then there is a transfer to primary which is either Holy Trinity or Queen Eleanors. The other town centre school is a through Primary, Sandfield, which has a new head so I don't know much about, but its quite nice and unusually multi-cultural for Guildford.
Guildford does have very fast commuting times into London. My DH used to do it 1 hour door to door sometimes, when he worked in the city. It was also reasonable when he worked in Docklands for a while. (But he's now a fan of Boris Bikes.)

lukewarmMulledWhine Wed 07-Dec-11 08:56:45

OP - if you look under Talk/All Topics, then towards the bottom of the page is a list of all the mumsnet locals - there is Guildford, Redhill, Reigate that I can see (I guess Guildford would cover Dorking as well).

WhereIsTheGreenSheep Wed 07-Dec-11 10:07:31

Thanks again for everyone's input, it's all really helpful and has certainly given us some food for thought.
Agree lukewarm that we'll definitely need to visit the places and get a feel for them before making a final decision. Oh to be able to pop back for quick weekend break!

wawawoo142 Sun 29-Jan-17 20:20:57

hi there, i was wondering where you ended up and how you are enjoying it? we are currently in the US but planning on moving to surrey this summer and looking at reigate, dorking and surrounding villages. probably can't get as far out as guildford, but happy to know it's there for 'big town' resources. we have two girls who will be in year 3 and 5 next year. would love to hear an update! thanks!

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