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Looking for advice on where to move

(29 Posts)
threebymistake Mon 10-Mar-14 11:55:49

My husband and I both work from home. We moved back from the US 20 months ago and have been living in my parents' house in London ever since, looking for a place to live out of the city. We have a four year old daughter who starts reception in September (YIKES) and twin 8 month olds. We need to get out of my parents' house before we drive them entirely mad, and we need to find a school that will take our daughter now we've missed all the deadlines. (We did apply here in London but would prefer not to stay if we can.)

We're looking for a small town where we can have a house with a sizeable garden, and our daughter (and then the twins) can go to a good local school. In the US we lived in a lovely walkable town with a great sense of community and lots of independent shops and restaurants, and we've been trying in vain to find somewhere that replicates that.

Because we work from home, we've had the luxury of looking in all kinds of places, but it has also paralysed us -- I have no idea if we're being too picky or just looking in the wrong places, but we cannot find the right spot. We're looking west and north of London as my parents are in West London and we'd like to be vaguely accessible to them. I also need to be in London for meetings twice a week or so, so we can't be too far away and I'd like train access if possible. But I realise we are going to have to compromise on something!

We like Thame a lot but haven't managed to find a house there. We've also looked in Haslemere, all round Oxford, and in some villages in south Oxfordshire. Whenever we find a nice town, we can't find a house that has anything other than a tiny garden. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks for any advice.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 10-Mar-14 12:00:17

Winchester is lovely. Is that in your price bracket?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 10-Mar-14 12:10:43

Price bracket is going to be big factor and is probably limiting garden size. But also looking for lots of independent shops in this area.
Hungerford would spring to mind and Malborough too, but they are fairly expensive. If you drop independent shops Newbury would fall into your search.
However, in your entire search area schools are at a premium as you are in commuter belt. From what I say most people stay put between ages of 3 adn 5 to get that school place, then move again so places free up.
In your situation I would stay put for 6 to 12 months, then look to rent in your potential town use this address to get into a school and then buy.

CMOTDibbler Mon 10-Mar-14 12:30:31

If you only need to be in London twice a week, I'd look north of Oxford - once you get to Chipping Norton it comes out of daily commuting and prices start to come down.
We live in Worcestershire, in a small town with indie shops, restaurants and a community cinema/theatre. Train takes 2 hours to London, but I know people who routinely do it 2 days a week. DH is there a lot, but often drives to Birmingham international as theres a train every 15 min and its a lot faster, plus has wifi on board

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 10-Mar-14 13:21:35

Are you intending to send your daughter to a state school?

dilbertina Mon 10-Mar-14 13:32:44

Fast train to London is less than an hour from Banbury. Plenty of villages with great schools in easy reach of Banbury. Try South Northamptonshire villages as well as North Oxfordshire.

aufaniae Mon 10-Mar-14 13:38:57

What's your budget, approximately?

Meglet Mon 10-Mar-14 13:41:45

I was going to say winchester too.

Basingstoke doesn't quite tick any all of your boxes wink.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 10-Mar-14 14:39:25

St Albans?

Middleagedmotheroftwo Mon 10-Mar-14 14:44:12

Try North Wilts, but avoiding Swindon. There are lots of lovely market towns and villages which are easliy acccessible for M4 and major London line stations.

Devizes, Marlborough, Royal Wootton Bassett, Malmesbury, Cricklade, to name but a few.

QuiteQuietly Mon 10-Mar-14 15:06:02

Oxford is hell for primary school places and massively overpriced. If you don't NEED to be there, don't be!

Winchester, Malmesbury, Cirencester, Tewkesbury. Market towns are a nice size. I would follow useful train lines out of London (which mainline station is best?) looking for towns of population 15-30,000. This is a size that is not too big, while able to support useful shops and infrastructure.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 10-Mar-14 15:48:11

Winchester is v good for school places and all secondaries are v good. We can't afford to live there any more though!

threebymistake Mon 10-Mar-14 16:03:38

Thanks, everyone -- can't believe how helpful MN posters are!

aufaniae, our budget is around 750k. We are hoping for four bedrooms so we can have people come and stay.

We have been planning on state schools but independent are not out of the question thanks to (grand)parental offers of support, though it would be great to not have to have them go down that route.

TheBeautifulVisit Mon 10-Mar-14 16:05:36

Harpenden
Wokingham
Leamington Spa

Sidge Mon 10-Mar-14 16:09:01

Petersfield?

Also North Wiltshire - Marlborough is lovely, and the area around it.

You've got a healthy budget so should be able to find something lovely.

BudsBeginingSpringinSight Mon 10-Mar-14 16:15:24

winchester, amersham, henley on thames, marlow, surrey, kent.

GingerMaman Mon 10-Mar-14 16:21:43

Cambridge

GingerMaman Mon 10-Mar-14 16:23:08

Cambridge - 50 min train into kings cross and an almost perfect city for a family.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 10-Mar-14 16:40:01

Definitely recommend Winchester then. Talkingpeace knows a lot more about schools in the area, but they're very very good.

KitKins Thu 13-Mar-14 12:32:15

I can't add any suggestions to the mix, but can support QuiteQuietly's comment. Oxford and South Oxfordshire generally is extremely overpriced for housing and the schooling is hit and miss and oversubscribed. The sense of community that you are wanting is also lacking in most areas.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 13-Mar-14 12:53:02

You could look down in Havant, Petersfield area. on the Portsmouth to Waterloo railway line with fast trains stopping at both (have a feeling slightly faster ones at Havant at certain times). Villages round both if you want that (Rowlands Castle has a station on the same line but only slow trains stop there - still only 2hrs to London I think). Petersfield is a market town, might be the sort of place you are imagining.

Blu Thu 13-Mar-14 13:01:02

Goodness, I know nothing at all about the area but you can get a HUGE garden and a pool for £650k in Marlow!

mummytime Thu 13-Mar-14 13:53:04

For 750K you can get something nice in a place like Guildford. Maybe not the poshest house, but something adequate like this or this.

So I'm not sure exactly what is causing you so much difficulty.

AmberTheCat Thu 13-Mar-14 15:14:18

I know quite a few people who live in Thame and really like it. The train journey in from Haddenham & Thame Parkway is also really good - about 40 mins into Marylebone. I don't know about primaries, but the sec school there is very good, and you're close to the Bucks grammars if preferable/appropriate. Although Oxfordshire generally is very expensive, you should get a very nice house in Thame for that budget.

Glasshammer Fri 14-Mar-14 19:57:39

Woodstock - it's near blenham palace. Lovely small town

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