Will St. Johns Wood, London work for us? Canadian expat(23 Posts)
We are planning a move to London with no children, but are also currently trying for a baby (might be pregnant during move). St Johns Wood was recommended to us by a relocation agency, but I was wondering if anyone has any first-hand experience of the area. Would this be a good place for a young couple/family? We are 29/30. I will be a SAHM, so I want to be in an area with other SAHMs to make friends.
It's lovely - great connections into C London on the Jubilee line and close to Maida Vale which is v child friendly too.
Good luck with the move (and the TTC)
Are you richer than god? If yes you will be fine. If not it might be a bit of a stretch.
St Johns Wood is nice but the population is fairly transient. There won't be the community feel that you get in areas where people are more settled. In London, the only areas you get SAHMs are where the property prices are reasonable (and that ain't SJW). In areas like SJW with lots of expensive flats, women tend to have to work to pay for them. I lived in an area like this before and all the toddler groups were full of nannies, SAHMs were few and far between.
DH will be working on Kensington High St so we want somewhere close-by and easy to get to. Areas like Richmond and Barnes (looked into) are too far for us and we also want to be part of the city atmosphere, but still in a good family area. SJW was our relocation agents first pick for us, with Holland Park/Notting Hill behind, followed by Hampstead. Any of those other areas have more SAHMs?
No idea sorry. Trouble is that your budget sounds like it will be higher than your average mumsnetter so you may find it tricky to get an answer. You could try the NCT (national childbirth trust) and get the contact details for their branches in the areas you are looking at. They run antenatal classes (for which you need to book as soon as you get a positive pregancy test!) where lots of people make their new mummy friends. Each branch will be able to tell you.how active they are and you could maybe volunteer as this is also another good way to meet people.
There's another thread kicking around on this subject by someone who is moving from LA. will try and find it.
For information you could try getting in touch with fellow expats in London.
No time to write but look at chiswick! V.v.close to high street ken even though doesn't look it in the tube map.
Belsize park and Hampstead - bugaboo land during daytime and weekends. Large expat community of North Americans in Hampstead as well.
The only information I know about St John's Wood is there is the Wellington Hospital and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth . I was in the Hosp of St J and St E myself sometime ago and it is marvellous
This is tricky because you are clearly on a budget way higher than average, and what you will want and enjoy will be very different to your average mumsnetter.
So, am assuming your DH is in private equity or some such and you lead a pretty privileged life, so my answer is based on that. But tell me a bit about what you are like and what you enjoy and I can help you pick an area which will fit.
SJW does have a longterm resident population, but unless you are very rich and Jewish you will struggle to connect with it. Your relocation agent is recommending it I suspect because of the American School there, which you are not yet ready for!!! It's not a young person's place either. Nor does it have good parks or anything.
So, either do Hampstead which is much more fun for young families, or stay close to your DHs work and go for the West London options. There are many many American families in NH and HP. Sort of depends whether you are left wing arty intelligentsia or not.
Really rich areas do have SAHMs because their husbands earn so much they don't need to work outside the home - though actually many of the ones I know do run businesses from home because they are the sort of women who had big careers before themselves and so want to do something themselves.
How long is the move for? How long is your rental contract for? Because maybe you should go somewhere fun and enjoy London and getting to know it for a short time, and then move after six months when you are hopefully about to pop. The very best way to make friends in a new area is to have a baby a you have probably guessed.
If you can afford St John's Wood, and proximity to Kensington High Street is important, I'd recommend Brook Green which is between Hammersmith and Olympia. It has a much more stable SAHM community, is well connected by public transport and is basically at the end of High St Ken. Your husband could walk to work in less than 30 mins.
Brook Green is indeed lovely too, and especially if you are French Canadian, it has a lot of French families there as there is a French school. But am not sure it's where couples start out before they have kids...don't people start in Kensington and then move out to BG when the kids are older and they want more space?
You're right what you say about brook green - it's very leafy and very expensive and full of couples who have moved a few hundred yards over from kensington in order to get a bit more space for kiddies. people consider their high street to be ken high, it's only 5 mins walk to the start of it
DH was raised in SJW and his family still lives there. TBH, he's not keen on it and would never go back (we were in Bow for a long time, it's about as similar to SJW as Mars!). As has been said, the population is pretty tranisient. There is an American population (not sure about Canadian). There is also a settled Jewish community. DH claims that rampant snobbery is, however, a key characteristic of SJW residents, regardless of origin (as I said, he's really not keen). In terms of whether it's good for young families, my MIL says it's too old for her and she's 66!
TBH, I'd look at Hampstead. There's more going on, more young families and it's more down to earth (relatively!)
Definitely Brook Green - no commute whatsoever for your DH, great shopping, Holland Park, lovely housing stock, lots of families.
Very active NCT branch in Kensington and probably equally active in Hammersmith.
Your relocation agent is off his rocker to suggest St John's Wood for a High Street Kensington work location.
Hampstead is lovely for families, but bloody miles from high st. ken! In traffic it can take a fair while to get there (and there will always be traffic at commuting times) and the tube connections are rubbish. I lived in hampstead and had friends in Kensington and we used to meet in the middle because we found it a fag to get to each other's places.
I'm not keen on SJW, find it very soulless.
Chelsea/Notting hill/Holland park sounds like a better bet.
All of the above are very expensive though. You can probably get much better value and many more families if you move just one or two tube stops down the line from any of the above.
I do agree with the poster who said rent somewhere for six months that is as central as possible and explore other alternatives while you are there.
SJW is beautiful and close to Regent's Park and Primrose Hill. It has a more snobby feel and less atmosphere than Notting Hill. Great transport to C London but not my first choice for a commute to HSK. Holland Park and NH are both walking distance to HSK. Depends what you are looking for.
I think Chiswick will really suit you.
Would also suggest looking at Ravenscourt Park, Richmond, fulham, putney or Wimbledon village. All on the district line so easy to get to HSKen.
Barnes is lovely but not sure the transport links are good enough for you.
All these areas are really different though so you need to come to London and have a look at them before you commit to anything.
What is your budget?
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