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Finding our first family home - Herts/Bucks - 300k budget

(21 Posts)
TheSprogfather Sun 04-Nov-12 12:23:38

Our first child is due around New Year and we're looking to move from our top floor flat to a 3-bed house before all the flights of stairs become too difficult!

We currently live in Rickmansworth and love the towns of Herts and Bucks but our budget (around 300k-ish) doesn't go far here. My wife wants to be within a 30 min drive of her work in Harrow and I'd like my commute to London Bridge to be within about an hour to maximise time with the baby.

We'd like a reasonable-sized town with character, nice schools and close to countryside for walks - Hitchin would be ideal but the commute is too long. Lots of people seem to rave about St Albans, but our budget would only stretch to the cheapest 3-beds and wondering if we might be better off in somewhere like Boxmoor or the Mill End area of Ricky where our money goes further - although not sure these areas have much going on or are that nice. Berkhamsted may also be a contender, but again budget limits choice and commute is a touch long and expensive.

Would really appreciate any tips on these areas and whether there's any other towns we should be considering. Thanks!

edam Sun 04-Nov-12 12:31:38

Herts and Bucks are both really expensive. You are right about St Albans - three beds for 300k is going to be tough and you'll only find it in the less desirable areas a long way from the station. Have you looked at Hatfield or Welwyn Garden City, or Letchworth Garden City? You get more for your money and they are decent places to live.

annalouiseh Sun 04-Nov-12 14:27:35

Try Cheshunt
40mins for your wife and isn't that bad of an area
you have waltham abbey areas, Epping, Brentwood for walks a stone throw away and expensive Broxbourne up the road
more for your money there also.
My Dh grew up there, seems quite nice

edam Sun 04-Nov-12 15:43:39

... although if you can find anywhere in St Albans, it'd be worth it as you'd be on a direct train line to London Bridge. (I think they are planning rebuilding works that mean First Capital Connect trains won't be going to London Bridge for a few years though but dunno when that's happening.)

TheSprogfather Sun 04-Nov-12 17:39:53

Thanks for the Hatfield, WGC and LGC suggestions. Of the three WGC is the one we might consider (We've friends in Hatfield who aren't keen on it and Letchworth is as far out as Hitchin.) Do you know WGC? We've only had one visit to the centre, which was okay, but the shopping centre was soulless. It does seem quite green, though.

It looks as if Thameslink won't stop at London Bridge from December 2014 until 2018, so handy for now but less of a benefit in the mid-term. I currently slog in on the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines, so one train to work does appeal!

edam Sun 04-Nov-12 17:43:23

I don't know it very well as a place to live, just for shopping, but it seems very green and pleasant. If you look at estate agent sites, you can grab a street name and then go on postcode finder, then www.checkmyarea.com which will give you demographic info which is quite entertaining.

byhec Sun 04-Nov-12 17:43:57

We live in hitchin and I used to commute into London, it's only 30 mins to kings cross. It's lovely living in hitchin, great for families.

alemci Sun 04-Nov-12 17:49:26

Is Chalfont any more affordable or Amersham or Chesham? You have the met line then. Is Watford or Croxley Green anymore affordable?

mumblechum1 Sun 04-Nov-12 17:50:39

Chalfont is more expensive than Amersham or Chesham imo. Some friends of ours just paid over £600k for a two bedroomed cottage with a minute garden.

mildred37 Sun 04-Nov-12 18:05:23

Don't move to Cheshunt! Grew up down the road from there and it is renowned for after-dark problems (drunkeness, theft).

I'd recommend Hertford or WGC, both lovely towns. Possibly Ware also, both have great links to London via rail and the A10. Also agree with Waltham Abbey.

edam Sun 04-Nov-12 18:09:09

The Chalfonts are v. expensive (there are several, St Peter, St Giles and possibly another). Amersham is quite expensive too, I believe, Chesham less so.

flinkystanny Sun 04-Nov-12 18:22:27

Leighton Buzzard? Adjacent to the Bucks border on 3 sides and is only a few miles from Herts too. Right next to the Chilterns - Ashridge and Dunstable Downs only a few miles away from town and is on the Western main line. The schools on the Linslade side of town are great and for 300k you could get a pretty decent 4 bed detached such as: this
Thames link could be accesses from Harlington (both about 7 miles away)

bruffin Sun 04-Nov-12 18:34:44

I live in Cheshunt and have done for 20 years and haven't come across any after dark crime. Most of the crime is imported from Enfield because the train links are so good. It's brilliant for children, within walking distance of Lea Valley for country walks and cycling.A really good outdoor adventure centre for older children.

TheSprogfather Sun 04-Nov-12 19:04:13

Lots of great suggestions so far - thank you all!

The main limitation on our search area is that my wife wants quite rightly to have a relatively short drive to work and family in Harrow, however I'm from the countryside and need to be free of the (expensive) London sprawl. We realise this limits our scope but some options seem to be emerging.

WGC at 35 mins is definitely in the running. Hertford, at 45 mins is pushing it a bit (although it's a lovely town), and Leighton Buzzard and Ware look to be too far at around an hour's drive (although the LB detached property would otherwise be amazing).

We love Buckinghamshire but it's mostly either much too expensive or a long train journey into town. We might at a push be able to afford something in Amersham.

Watford we're really not keen on (except for its shopping). Croxley (and especially Croxley Green) are nice, but not sure there's much there - a nice cafe, decent grocers and other amenities would certainly be nice-to-haves.

edam Sun 04-Nov-12 19:48:08

Hemel Hempstead's another possibility. Only if you really like bizarre roundabouts, though...

alemci Sun 04-Nov-12 20:01:04

oh yes Hemel loves roundabouts.

mewkins Sun 04-Nov-12 20:36:38

Hiya, I have lived in wgc and St albans... both very nice, St albans good for evenings out, schools but it's a bunfight for school places. Your money doesn't go far!

Wgc is nice, goodish for shops but very few bars (I think it was built by a Quaker...or I may have made that up!)... loads of green space etc. Some areas have issues (woodhall and howlands) with bored kids causing problems. Panshanger is lovely and you should be able to get a three bed there. Knightsfield and anything around Welwyn village, Digswell would be worth a look. Further afield you could try Essendon, Wheathamstead perhaps?

Currently live in Hertford and we really like it here. We've made good friends and there's a lot going on over the summer for kids etc

germyrabbit Sun 04-Nov-12 20:41:04

bushey, potters Bar, radlett (though v expensive) , bushey especially near harrow

MrsPnut Sun 04-Nov-12 20:59:48

Welwyn garden city was built by Quakers so there are so few pubs in the town centre however it is a nice town with a John Lewis.

My parents live near Panshanger and I lived near Haldens for a few years too, it is green and where my parents live is pretty quiet and you can be walking in the countryside within minutes. It is also the end nearest the A1 so easy access for Harrow. You can also walk to Welwyn North station to commute to London rather than go into the town.

Spirael Sun 04-Nov-12 21:32:32

I can vouch for Amersham, I grew up there. smile Everything you need in close vicinity, fantastic schools in the area and getting to Harrow is relatively easy.

There's a Chiltern Railways train that goes between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill (then on to Marylebone) that is much nicer/faster than the underground trains.

Amersham is nicer than Chesham. Chesham Bois is actually part of Amersham and has a village feel to it.

IvanaHumpalotCountDracula Mon 05-Nov-12 21:57:05

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge/

Have you looked at Tring, Berkhamsted, the villages (Little Gaddesden, Aldbury, Gaddesden Row, Great Gaddesden, Ringshall, Studham, Kensworth) Potten End, Abbotts/Kings Langley?

My DH uses Midland Berkhamsted to Euston and the Thameslink at St Albans

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