What's it like (honestly) in C. Durham, esp. as a southerner?

(40 Posts)

Finally made the decision to sell up this leech of a house. WOrked out we have 'lost' 100k in the past 6 years buying the place, doing it up, bills related to the place and will only walk away with 30-40k before paying £3,600 in fees for being in arrears for a few months, and god knows how much estate agent fees. Anyway, we want out before it goes negative - it's leasehold anyway so not worh soldiering on, and not a family home. It's really 1 double bed, 1 single bed and we have 3 DSs and no garden. I have found houses up north (found a perfect one but think it'll go by the time we sell), and wrked out we can squirrel away £1,500 ish a month living at MILs while looking, to add to the amount.

Anyway, what is it like? Where I was looking was a tiny village (both drivers, and the next larger village about 1m away has a co-op etc.), schools look better than here ! (2 Outstanding/Good Ofsted Catholic ones within 3m, more further afield too), work isn't an issue as DH will keep his job down here and travel back @ weekends unless he gets a transfer, or until he joins the RAF/Army (test in March) (main reason for moving - take home pay in basic training is about £780)

Will we be made to feel 'foriegn'? We are pretty easy going, but I do tend to have abit of a posh voice tosome people blush (people in Ireland say I talk like the Queen!). Is a small village a no no? Is everyone just human like down here?

Thanks if you can help!

PiggyMad Tue 22-Feb-11 09:51:02

I think it depends on the area to be honest - if you mean a 'posh' village nearer the city then you will be fine fitting in re voice etc. I like it up there, but I am biased as grew up in a village outside of Durham and my friends and family still live there, so can't comment on outsiders' experiences. But I do like the close-knit community aspect of it and the friendliness. You're also very near the coast and lovely Northumberland coastline, also near Weardale for lovely country walks.
I think a small village would be a big culture shock if you're used to living somewhere busy and bigger - but that would be the same anywhere.
One downside I think is that it is an area in its own right, really. I think once you get past Leeds there is no other big places apart from the whole Newcastle/Sunderland/Durham region. When you're further south everything seems more connected and closer by etc.
Do you work? Would you feel a bit isolated in a small village if your DP is away through the week?

ThePosieParker Tue 22-Feb-11 09:52:53

Honestly, I've visited Durham and found it, like many other Northern places, to be very unfriendly toward Southerners....not as bad as Leeds though.

allatsea1 Tue 22-Feb-11 12:27:36

A village in County Durham could be anything from a pit village to something lovely. It varies so much. Would you like to reveal where? If not, then the key is in the price - if it seems too good to be true then is usually is. A three bed semi is a 'sought after' area up here will probably set you back £200,000 plus. One in an okayish area about £160,000.

I would also suggest being near a 'centre', say within a ten minute drive. Be it Newcaslte, Durham, Sunderland or Middlesbrough as County Durham can seem like a very expansive place...

Essentially I agree with Piggy.

allatsea1 Tue 22-Feb-11 12:28:13

* in a

Aworryingtrend Tue 22-Feb-11 13:55:45

I live in the North East, are you able to give the name of the village/more of an indication. As others have said, it varies enormously. There are some villages I would love to be able to afford to move to, and some of the former pit villages I wouldn't touch with a barge pole.

As PP said, price is the indicator. Can you say how much the perfect one you have found is and a rough description eg 3 bed detached?

Aworryingtrend Tue 22-Feb-11 13:56:39

I should say, feel free to PM me if I can be of any help but you don't want to disclose location on here?

I think it is a 'pit village' - nowhere near the prices you are saying! Was looking at "peterlee village areas" whatever they are - something colliery, Wheatly (?) something like that. Seems abit back-o-beyond but I am most worried about being hated than isolation.

StealthPolarBear Tue 22-Feb-11 19:14:03

wheatley hill

StealthPolarBear Tue 22-Feb-11 19:14:42

shotton colliery
come west of durham
or durham itself - it's lovely

StealthPolarBear Tue 22-Feb-11 19:15:58

OTOH peterlee area very handy for A19
would you work up here?
Don't worry about being foreign, us natives are friendly and well travelled, I was in Darlington just the other day
wink

Indith Tue 22-Feb-11 19:20:05

The villages around here are a mixed bunch I think, some fared much better than others in the post mining era so while some are pretty erm...isolated, others are lovely. The vllage where SPB and I live is one of the lovely ones, there is a great community and I don't think you would feel hated at all as a Southerner, there are plenty on non-local people around. What counts is attitude, chatting to people, taking part in community events and so on. The ones people moan about are those who keep themselves to themselves grin. By that I don't mean you ahve to be all singing, all dancing but just actually look as though you live in your house and have the odd chat with the neighbours. The house prices are great though aren't they! We paid 131K fo ours around 18 months ago, I shudder to think what a similar size of house in a village with decent schools nearby and a great community would cost in somewhere more popular like North Yorks.

Indith Tue 22-Feb-11 19:21:24

Darlington SPB are you mad woman>

We need to tempt her over her, between us 2 and Intergalactic (K) we cold start to rival London for density of MNers.

Indith Tue 22-Feb-11 19:21:52

? not >

allatsea1 Tue 22-Feb-11 19:25:42

I personally wouldn't live there. You won't be hated but I would think it rare someone would move to a former pit village unless you have a connection there - family etc. There is also a lot deprivation in former pit villages. I would also warn although Durham is lovely, most places in County Durham really are nowhere near, Trimdon or Peterlee for example. I'd also warn that selling the property on, should you not like it, could also be hellish. Sedgefield (Tony Blair's former village) is nice and not too expensive. Check here first with any villages near though as it varies so much!! Do you want to be near Durham necessarily? Or just North East?

allatsea1 Tue 22-Feb-11 19:29:28

By the way I wouldn't live in Peterlee

Indith Tue 22-Feb-11 19:32:09

allatsea's post just shows how much it does vary from village to village. It is true that the proper local are all connected in some way, families tend to stick around but here there are lots of non-locals like me and several friends, plenty of people who are form Durham area in general but don't have a previous link to the village as well as locals, I don't think there has been any difference in welcome/treatment from anyone. Suppose the local toddler group mums were tough to break into but think that goes for toddler groups anywhere, more that they were all friends rather than anything else! Absolutely fine now.

purepurple Tue 22-Feb-11 19:41:50

I have lived in Darlington and as a southerner was never made to feel unwelcome. I was really sad to leave but DH was made redundant and we had no choice as we moved when he got a new job across the country.
I also lived in Houghton-Le-Spring, just outside Sunderland which is where DH is from. It's a small town and I did feel like I was an outsider and was given the cold shoulder from some of my neighbours, who thought I was posh and stuck up (I am just shy). I did make lots of friends though, and was part of the local community, running a mother and toddler and playgroup.
I wouldn't live in Peterlee, though. Some places are very deprived. I would live in Middleton-St-George, lovely village.

Onlyaphase Tue 22-Feb-11 19:42:32

I'm in the NE - on the Co Durham/N Yorks border. I moved back a few years ago - grew up here, left at 18 at the speed of light, started a family and came back home.

So many people I meet have done the same thing, and come back north once they have a family. This does mean that there are a lot of people around looking to make new friends etc in my opinion BUT because I live in a rural area it takes time to meet people as there just aren't that many around unlike perhaps nearer London.

I'm also near a big army centre, so again there are lots of friendly people around who haven't been here for years and are keen to make friends.

I'd be really careful about the area though, as other posters have said, it is a really mixed bag. Of the 3 small towns nearby, I'd move to one like a shot, tolerate living in the other and wouldn't touch the third if you paid me. So please do check it out in person, as fully as you can.

allatsea1 Tue 22-Feb-11 19:48:17

Yes Middleton St George is nice if you're looking near Darlo. Also handy for Teesside and Newcastle. Prices reasonable too. Just please don't dive in without checking!

Maddikins Tue 22-Feb-11 23:33:06

I live in Sunderland and have worked in Peterlee and I would never want to live there or the small surrounding pit villages. Places like Hetton, Houghton, Murton, a lot of the families have lived there for generations and everyone knows everyones business kind of thing.

Seaham has massively improved in the last 5 years and is quite nice along the sea front but some of the other areas still not great. The outskirts of Durham City has some lovely residential areas a 5 min drive from the city centre.

Whitburn which is a coastal village along from Sunderland is nice.

If your wanting countryside villages Weardale has some lovely ones, Frosterley, Stanhope, Wolsingham nice, approx 25 min drive into Sunderland and the people who live there are ime very friendly as they're used to lots of visitors due to the caravan parks in the area.

Aworryingtrend Wed 23-Feb-11 08:25:10

Ahem I live in Darlington wink and I love it. DH is a Londoner and he absolutely loves it here and can't beleive how friendly everyone is. As a PP said, its like anyhting, you get out of it what you put in- he does a lot of work for the local Labour political party and also our local Macmillan group andhas met a lot of people that way.

Would definitely, definitely avoid Peterlee, Easington, Crook, Tow Law, Spennymoor- any of these. But that it just my opinion I am not wishing to offen anyone.

For good transport links on the A1 have you considered Heighington or School Aycliffe?

londonmackem Wed 23-Feb-11 08:41:33

I am from the North East and I wouldn't move to a pit village as I would feel like an outsider. Local accent is often very strong, lots of local dialect (PS which I love!) and sometimes I would need a translater (no offence to anyone). There are some lovely places but places like Peterlee and easington, hetton-le-Hole, etc. are cheap for a reason - though I know lots of lovely people who live there.
Really have a look around and don't be swayed simply by property prices (we are moving and I have been looking longingly at houses near my parents I could buy outright for the price of my tiny london pad!)

What's bad about the bad places? DH says he has family in Peterlee. We would maybe just be renting it out (if DH gets in) , but definatly want a long term investment ie if somewhere was oing to be 'better' in 10 odd years +. Is it mainly Labour up there? grin

allatsea1 Wed 23-Feb-11 10:47:20

Peterlee is a 'new town' and as such pretty souless. I have to say though I'm sure there are nice places to live there, just like there is in any town. I wouldn't say it was somewhere 'on the up' - the same would count with the surrounding villages.

I didn't realise there was anything 'wrong' with Darlo! Again, like everywhere has its good and bad bits.

In terms of what's 'bad' about the 'bad' places...a bit ahem inbred. Oh God that was an awful thing to say! No offence meant! Also...the pit villages aren't what we all have in our heads as 'villages'. They are mostly made up of council-owned terrace properties. No village green, nice pub etc etc. Make sure you check with us Mumsnetters first!

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