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Swapping London for Essex - anyone done it?

(20 Posts)
sparklechops Fri 27-Jul-12 11:19:22

After nearly ten years of renting in London, we've finally accepted that we cannot afford to buy a home here - well, not the sort of home we'd like to buy anyway!

So we're looking for areas surrounding the city. Chelmsford keeps coming up as a possible. DH has family there and we've always liked it when we've visited. We could afford a small house with a garden - something we're really keen on for DD's sake. But we're nervous about leaving London, as we love it so much, and want to make sure we're going to the right place for us.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's made the move out to Essex, particularly Chelmsford. How is it for young families? Lots to do? Feels safe? Easy to make friends? How about nurseries and primary schools? And how is the commute, if you are still working in London? Thank you!

Boggler Fri 27-Jul-12 11:21:57

Why don't you try renting a house in Chelmsford for a year to make sure you really like it before committing to a purchase.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Fri 27-Jul-12 12:01:52

you don't have to go out as far as that. we are ex-highbury people. try so woodford, woodford green, wanstead, highams park way. It's near enough he can visit his family in Chelmsford but still on the tube (highams park mainline train). good schools. you won't feel so isolated.

fussychica Fri 27-Jul-12 16:34:36

Rent first - you might hate it. Soooo different from London - good & bad but definitely different! Did it a zillion years ago but now live in the south west. Make sure you are happy with the commute. If you like the London buzz you might be happier with Ladys suggestion or perhaps along the Thames Estuary (like Leigh on Sea).

sparklechops Fri 27-Jul-12 17:37:35

Thanks for the advice - Boggler, think we would definitely rent before signing on the dotted line to buy in a particular area. Will check out those areas, Lady, thank you, and also look into Leigh on Sea, fussy. Cheers!

Dolallytats Fri 27-Jul-12 17:50:23

My family all moved to Chelmsford 5 years ago and love it. They can't imagine living back in East London. I am trying to get a move there (on housing list, but also trying to save a deposit so I have options!! Not saved much so far....lots of birthdays in the last month!!) My cousins and aunt & uncle also moved there several years ago.
Although I want to be near them all, like you I am a bit nervous about severing all ties with London!!
As previously suggested Woodford, S.Woodford and Wanstead are nice. Highams Park is not a great area, to be honest!! My other sister lives in Hockley and loves it!!
Good luck.

IWantToGoToThere Fri 27-Jul-12 19:40:34

We moved to Chelmsford from London in October. My DS is 2.5 and we have another one on the way now and the house and space we could afford compared to what we had in London, is amazing.

Chelmsford was a good fit for us, and we looked around at a few commuter-belt towns before deciding. It has a nice surburban feel, big enough that there are plenty of shops, restaurants and a cinema, but also lots of country pubs within a 10-15 min drive so we feel like we're in the country too. The schools are great and it's very green so for me it feels a bit more like 'home' (I'm not from the UK). Funnily enough, the house next door to us was for sale when we moved in, and now houses a family who moved from London also and they felt the same about Chelmsford as a good spot.

For us, we commute into the right part of London also as me and DH both still work there. I'm in the City, so walk from Liverpool St, and DH is in Canary Wharf so gets off the train at Stratford and gets the Jubliee Line in. There are often delays on the train just outside of Liverpool St station on the way in to London, so he tends to be at his desk just before me.

It still definitely is a commute though (although we used to live within walking distance of our offices when we were in London so ANY move was going to mean a commute for us). To give you an idea, we live in North Springfield which is a 7 minute drive in to the station. In the morning, we drop off DS at nursery, park at the station carpark, get the train in to work and that trip is around 1 hour 20 minutes from leaving the house to sitting at my desk if the trains aren't delayed.

Speaking of trains, that is probably my biggest gripe and biggest adjustment. A season ticket is around £3200 (plus carpark if you need one at the station is £1500 a year) and the trains are old stock rather than the newer air conditioned ones. Delay-wise, they're not too bad and tend to be every 4-10 minutes during rush-hours when I use them. We always get a seat too, though there are some that have to stand.

Where we live, there are a LOT of young families and we live in quite a friendly development. The family opposite and next to us on both sides have 2 boys each, ranging in age from newborn to 11 years so my DS has plenty of little friends. I would say it's been easy to make friends, but that might be just because we live in an area where there are a lot of families similar to us in terms of number and age of kids and professions. It's close enough to London to keep up old friendships there too.

Hope this all helps - sorry it's a bit of an essay! Happy to provide more information if you'd like.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sat 28-Jul-12 18:55:21

re higham's park/north chingford way...there are actually decent bits the OP might want to consider depending on her budget IF staying central is important. There are also bits of Chelmsford which arent' great too. The house prices might in fact be similar in some cases.

I would also argue Walthamstow...

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sat 28-Jul-12 19:10:12

OP see the thread South London vs East London too. Some good food for thought on that.

Zoelda Sat 28-Jul-12 19:57:33

Did this 3 years ago. Rendering Chelmsford first then rented in kelvedon and now finally have bought in a village near stisted.
Indescribably better!!
Kids are 7 months and 2.5

sparklechops Sun 29-Jul-12 08:46:36

Thank you for all your advice. Our budget is pretty teeny for London. It would be fine if it was just the two of us but now we have DD we'd really like her to have a garden to play in. I will have a look at the south vs east thread. We're south east London now after living in Stoke Newington (which we loved but could no longer afford rent wise) for ages and did consider Walthamstow when we were looking for a rented property last year. Part of me just wants to sod it all and go back up north (of the country, not London!) where I'm from. We could afford a house there. But the problem is finding work up there as our jobs are very much London based.

sparklechops Sun 29-Jul-12 09:11:48

Hhhhmm....having read the south east vs east thread, Leytonstone sounds promising!

DinahMoHum Sun 29-Jul-12 09:15:47

I like chelmsford, its only 25minutes commute to liverpool street.
Im in Colchester and love it. My dp commutes to London, its only 45 mins on the train and much cheaper than chelmsford

Limelight Sun 29-Jul-12 09:24:26

I've done quite a lot of work out in South Essex and there's something about the area which I find a bit depressing (sorry about that! Not trying to offend anyone). I was working in Billericay, Leigh-on-Sea, Shenfield, Rochford. Probably I was just unlucky though and this isn't very helpful because I can't really put my finger on what made me uncomfortable there.

Having said that, a friend of mine lived in Chelmsford which was nice. And she had a lovely 2 bed cottage there, just near to the prison.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Sun 29-Jul-12 13:07:06

Limelight I have to say I agree. We've considered moving further out too and while we enjoy our days out there I just couldn't bring myself to move there permanently.

OP: My DH is from York and we've considered a move up north too. Wondering where he's from....

I mean the commute to London is still going to be long and a pain from most of those towns. What worried me was being geared to one train line in the event of a problem. It's not like being in London where there are a few options and in the worst case scenario a mini cab isn't going to break the bank. It will also be expensive and I reckon eat into your housing budget.

Lots of people do like Chelmsford - it may be to your taste. But check carefully about whether you're really getting that much more for your money than some of the places nearer London that people have been mentioning relative to the potential hassel factor.

panicnotanymore Sun 29-Jul-12 14:11:00

I looked at Chelmsford, but found the area a bit depressing. The area near the station is horrible - I had to step over pools of vomit and pass some pretty unpleasant lairy drunk blokes quite a few times. The villages around it are quite industrial, and you need to look out for ex-landfill sites and quarry works. The smell downwind of what looked like a green field (but was actually ex landfill) was choking, and the quarry works create a lot of noise, dust and heavy lorries thundering along the country roads.

The biggest problem for me though was the 2 year waiting list for a parking permit at the station, meaning I would have to drop off/pick up DH every day, and locals warned me to allow a lot of extra time to allow for traffic queues.

I'm sure it has lovely redeeming features, but it wasn't for me.

Putney555 Wed 29-Aug-12 22:22:12

Evening! My husband and I are thinking of moving out to Leigh on Sea from London, and we're excited at living somewhere with a bit more space. However, we both work in London so would be getting a train into Fenchurch Street at 8ish, and are a bit apprehensive of the commute if we have to stand. Does anyone have any experience of whether we'd be likely to get a seat at that time? Any advice would be very gratefully received!

AfishhCalledElvira Wed 29-Aug-12 22:38:46

We did it! Moved from east London to just outside Chelmsford and love it! I lived in E.London for 8 years and never knew anyone in the street I lived even after I had children as I lived in quite an ethnically insular area so I found it isolated living there.

Conversely I was terrified about the move as I was worried I'd be isolated being outside of London and away from the central line but I have loved it and so do the DCs. The downside is DHs commute is long now and he is tired from the longer journey. I have found I rarely venture into London now even tho it is a relatively short hop as there is so much locally do do with the DCs that I can't be bothered to schlep in on the train.

The schools are good and I've found that people round here are really new neighbours actually knocked to say hello! Has taken me years not to cross the road when I see groups of teenagers as I assumed for years I was going to get mugged. Nowhere is perfect but we are happy and there is a real sense of community in the village that I live in that I've never experienced before.

Definately rent before buying. We rent and the upside is that our rent is a lot cheaper than what we paid in so our deposit saving is doing more than it was before.

I also like it as I don't seem to be far from anywhere-its not too country or too city. More living space than before. It's funny as in our village there seems to have a huge growing Romford/ ex pat community!

aanamika Thu 07-Mar-13 23:28:36

Hi All, Got to read about this chat. We too are planning to move to chelmsford. mainly chelmer village and would surely rent before buying. We are a young indian family (with a daughet 2.5 years). We have lived in ipswich for couple of years (as couples) and didn't face any issues. Hows chelsmford for non-white family?


Perseverance2016 Thu 21-Apr-16 07:56:49

I'm looking to swap my two bedroom council maisonette in Canning Town, East London with someone in Essex. This is proving to be a bit difficult as not many people are keen to move from Essex to East London.

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