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Anyone know Reading?

(88 Posts)
FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 10:28:40


We're looking a buy and are considering Reading - we need to be commutable to London and Reading is close ish to family as well. But we don't know the town at all so would be grateful for opinions.

We currently live in a small town and it's too quiet for us so we would be looking to live in Reading itself and not surrounding villages. I've heard Caversham is nice but know nothing about any other areas. We have about 250k to spend and want a 3 bed house.

I know there is a grammar school for girls - is it hard to get into?

Any advice at all would be much appreciated because it's a bit of a stab in the dark for us, and we're having to move quicker than we would like after our landlord announced he is selling up (see other thread!).

Thanks in advance.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 10:46:52

I live in woodley, which is a fairly mixed area, it has good links to the train station and the m4 to be easily commutable to London (you can catch a direct train to Waterloo from Winnersh or Early both less than 5 minutes away, or catch train to Reading for fast train to Paddington, or drive to twyford less than ten minutes away and catch the slightly slower train to Paddington)

You would be able to buy a 3 bed house for £250k, there is a lack of older houses in woodley so would be mainly new builds or 70'/80's. We have a large shopping precinct with Waitrose, Iceland and Lidl in, as well as newsagents, fabric shop, book shop, card shop, robert dyas, clarks and cargo.

Woodley comes under Wokingham Borough and has some fab schools. The girls grammar school is Kendrick and that covers a huge area and so is very competitive to get into, so you'd have to do a lot more research to see if your dd was likely to get a place or not.

To the other side of woodley you have Winnersh and Wokingham, again some very good schools, but some dodogy areas and £250k in those areas is likely to put you in the less desirable parts (a quick look on rightmove confirmed this). Wokingham has a town centre with supermarkets, clothing shops etc in but is bit run down at the moment, which is very surprising when you look at the housing. Again good links for London.

The other side of Woodley is Earley, Earley is a nice area, a few parks and again good schools as comes under Wokingham council. Some shopping, a large asda and a small precinct with pet shop newsagent, post office and take away. My parents are in Earley and I was born and raised there, its a bit more expensive than Woodley though hence us moving to Woodley for a larger house. Lower Earley is all newly built (well since 1980's and they keep adding) so you'd still get the school catchment areas but its a much more densley populated area than Earley, Woodley and Winnersh.

When i first moved back to Reading we lived in Whitley for a while, never again. We were broken into three times nd car stolen/broken into. the schools werent great, but it may have changed in the last 13 years.

Tbh i don't think Caversham is all is made out to be, the schools arent very good and the housing expensive. They also have a large less desirbale areas, but for me it was the lack of good schools that put us off moving that way.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 11:00:25

Thank you daisydoo, lots to think about there! I think ideally we'd be a walk/cycle ride from Reading station because otherwise dh's commute gets too long. Is that doable do you think on our budget and to be in a good area?

I had heard wokingham schools were good but it's a bit disheartening that our budget will only buy us something in a rough area.

Lilymaid Tue 16-Apr-13 11:07:23

Also possible to commute to London from Tilehurst (which has its own station) - I did this for several years. No longer in that area, but know that house prices are pretty high there for not a lot! I would imagine that Caversham prices would be even higher.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Tue 16-Apr-13 11:23:00

I think you need to come and walk around the place to get a feel of it. I know people who comute to the Royal Berkshire Hospital which is in the university district and use the train. It is a decent 15-20 minute walk from train to hospital which is on the London Road but doable on all but the wettest days and then there is a bus. The Oracle Shopping Centre is brilliant and is credited with putting house prices up as Reading has become more desireable than it was 20 years ago.

When I lived there Reading Borough Schools were perceived by the mummy mafia as being less good than the Wokingham Borough ones with the exception of the grammers. Kendrick Girls is super selective and girls who are very bright and thrive on the hot house atmosphere do well. It does not suit everyone. When we lived in Berks Maiden Erleigh was the secondary school of choice and houses in the catchment area were going for daft prices but that may have changed as it was a while ago.

If you can get out to Woodley, Earley and Lower Earley you get more choice of property and there are branch lines out there but that might make the commute harder.

MinimalistMommi Tue 16-Apr-13 11:35:49

I lived in Reading for five years, I think the area directly around the university is nice and then of course you can walk straight into town/station. I guess there will be lots of student housing around I suppose.

I wouldn't say Reading town itself is the prettiest place but its great to be close to London.

I used to hop on the train regularly when I lived there.

I also don't think it's the safest place to walk around after dark either but that's just common sense.

The Oracle is great, I was there when it was all built. Lovely cinema complex, places to eat etc.

West Reading is possibly a cheaper area to live? The red light district used to be near the railway bridge and the Lidl supermarket there.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 12:36:08

my neighbours cycle to reading train station each day, he said its about 15-20 minutes?

there are areas within Wokingham Borough that you will be able to buy that aren't in rough areas, sorry if i gave that impression of the whole of the borough. this house is caversham and walkable to reading train station, 5-10 minutes, over the bridge. I'm not sure what secondary school that would come under but rightmove do have clickable links so that you can check them out.

My main concern if you moved to the university/cemetry junction areas would be the choice of secondary school. The ares are fine, densley housed mainly victorian terraces (good for sizes though, huge rooms etc), but Bulmershe would be your nearest school, which is not the catchment as its a wokingham school but populated by mainly non wokingham residents. It doesnt have a good reputation locally, but is supposed to be improving.

if you can i would highly recommend coming to Reading and checking out the surrounding areas and the suburbs where you think you might be interested in buying.

Could you consider renting in the short term so that you can get a feel of if an area is for you before comitting to purchasing?

schobe Tue 16-Apr-13 12:39:20

Aldermaston worth considering - train to Reading station takes about as long as walking/cycling/bussing to station from outskirts of Reading. It's very quiet though, but easy to get to Reading, Thatcham or Newbury.

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 12:40:21

this one is in Woodley and a few minutes walk to Earley train station which is 3 minutes to reading main station.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 16-Apr-13 13:35:18

Thank you everyone, really useful.

The thing is, we moved from London to the small ish town we currently live in a year ago. It's FAR to quiet for us and I hate the fact that I rely on the car and that public transport is so rubbish. In an ideal world we would live in London, I love it there, but it's just too expensive.

So what we're really looking for is somewhere where we are within walking distance of shops/restaurants etc, because living in a village/suburb just doesn't work for us. I know that makes it a bit awkward.

We're planning to get to Reading asap and have a look around.

If we did decide to look at Caversham, any idea which schools/areas are good? And which are definitely not!

daisydoodoo Tue 16-Apr-13 14:53:16

the house i linked to is a ten minute walk into reading town centre from caversham or a ten minute walk the other way into caversham centre. Caversham has some nice restaurants, a few coffee shops and the usual charity shops, but as its so close to reading town centre if you needed clarks for chool shoes or john lewis for towels say, thats as quick a walk in the other direction. the downside is that its terraced housing with no allocated parking. But older houses are good in that the rooms are usually spacious.
I used to be a midwife based in one of the caversham surgeries, so have done lots of home visits there. the houses around the linked one have a wide range of occupants, but majority working family types. I should imagine a fair few commuters as well as its such a quick walk to the station.

schobe Tue 16-Apr-13 18:07:20

Hmmmm - I lived in Reading and London and then Reading again later.

I think if London is what you liked, then Reading could be a big mistake tbh. Agree with going to have a look for yourselves.

I never liked Caversham much, not least because there were only 2 bottlenecks roads for getting into town - nightmare in rush hours, but ok if you cycle I guess. Plus they may well have built more roads, this was some time ago.

thegraduand Tue 16-Apr-13 20:34:30

I lived in Reading for 10 years, had to move away last year. I really liked Caversham, village-y feel, but close to Reading. Traffic was bad in rush hr, but traffic is bad all over Reading in rush hour. School places can be problem in Caversham, living in catchment is no guarantee of a place, you need to live near the school. But the good schools are Caversham Heights, Emmer Green and The Hill. Of the other two, I think Micklands is meant to be better than Thameside.

You should be able to get a 3 bed for £250k, but probably not with a big garden.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 10:43:25

Oh dear Schrobe, that sounds ominous, can you elaborate on why it would be a big mistake? I'm not bothered about the traffic - we don't use a car that much anyway. I love London but can no way afford it and am currently living in a small town in Herts which I find pretty boring tbh.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 11:12:13

I agree with Shobe. We moved from London to Reading a few years ago and went back to London after 18 months. Reading's OK but its no subsitute for London. Its got a kind of small town attitude so if you're a bit different its can be a bit horrible, I was so relieved to be back in London so I could speak without everyone commenting on my accent. Its got a lot of the problems of city living like traffic and highish cost of living with not a lot of the benefits. Also the Reading festival is on every year quite close to the centre of town and is a giant pain in the arse.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 11:17:55

The other thing is if you are planning to live in Caversham if you want to walk into the station one of only two bridges across the river goes through a park and an area without many houses. I worked shifts and found this really intimidating in the dark, the buses aren't great and the other bridge was too far away to make it worth it. However, in the light it was easily the most beautiful travel into work I've ever had.

daisydoodoo Wed 17-Apr-13 11:25:44

reading festival only a pain if you live in caversham or near the town centre and hast really just becasue in the morning there are lots of people wondering to the shops for coffee and to the charity shops to replace stolen/wet sleeping bags (my sister works in one of them), and the traffic the day they come in and the day they go home, but its a bank holiday weekend and a lot of people go away then anyway. Most of the time they are on site.

Schobe is right there are two main bridges to get to Caversham from Reading and vice versa, there are other ways to get into Caversham by car such as oxford way, henley and sonning. But if coming from Reading town centre then yes you need to cross the bridges, obviously by foot or by bike this isn't a problem, its just by car its stop start traffic, but if you've lived in London you may be used to that in rush hour anyway.

There are lots of commuter villages in the surrouding areas of Reading where its easy to get to London, especially if dh is prepared to add another 10-15 minutes to his journey each day. Reading is expensive it always has been though as is always been a commuter town and lots of it companies based here so employment levels are good.

Definatley advise coming to have a look and see if you like the town centre/caversham etc before totally dismissing it. find a good estate agent whos prepared to show you commuter routes as well?

MrsJamin Wed 17-Apr-13 12:33:46

Not sure what Shrobe means. West reading is really similar to London, diverse, everything on your doorstep, never boring! Never find the festival weekend a problem really, we go away then and within a day you would hardly know it happened.

LadyintheRadiator Wed 17-Apr-13 12:49:18

I agree with MrsJamin. Have never found the festival a problem unless you want to go into Caversham that particular weekend but its easy to avoid it. I live in West Reading. I like it here, except for the school places stress. Lots of shops, a fab park, beautiful library, good bus routes (and actually now they've started doing reasonable fares - £5 on a weekend/school holiday/bank holiday will give a days unlimited travel for up to four people which finally makes it a viable alternative to driving).

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 13:43:04

When you say West Reading, do you mean the area around West Reading station? Sorry if that is an obvious question!

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 14:03:02

Caversham is really convenient for commuting - a 15-20 minute walk to the station. It's also great for families with loads to do. As for schools, opinion is very mixed. Caversham Primary has a great reputation, but is hideously oversubscribed and you will pay around £50k extra for a property in catchment with no guarantee of a place. Thameside has a poor reputation, but most parents with children there are really positive about it. The school has a new head who is making some really positive changes and I know many parents who have selected above schools with much better OFSTEDs. Most areas of Caversham are lovely, but I would avoid the Amersham Road area. By day it seems lovely, but it can turn a bit wild after nightfall. Festival is one bank holiday weekend a year and really is no bother at all.

Southcote, Tilehurst and West Reading are all good areas to look at, and you'll get much more for your money.

Primary school allocations were announced yesterday - that should give you a good picture about which schools are over and undersubscribed

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 17-Apr-13 14:16:05

I live in the area - small sleepy village so not your thing wink I just avoid the area during festival and marathon. If you need to get across to the other side at this time you can always go via Sonning.

There are beautiful houses in Caversham heights - I lust on my way through often. Probably quite pricey and as mentioned you have to go across Caversham Bridge to get into central Reading. I see loads of cyclists using this route.

Lower Earley is nice, some lovely houses in that area and I have also always had a soft spot for Woodley.

Reading is a nice medium size town, no its not London but then London is readily accessible.

There are definate good and bad areas - personally I woudnt fancy Cemetry Junction and would think twice over which areas in the University area I considered (even though some of the houses are beautiful!)

Any chance you could stay in the area for a few days and have a mooch about?

LadyintheRadiator Wed 17-Apr-13 16:43:44

FruitSalad, to me West Reading stretches quite far and wide, but yes I do live close to the station - well a ten minute walk. I would not want to live closer than this though. I am in catchment (meaningless though that is) of both an outstanding primary and one in special measures. My DC goes to a 'good' school though that is further away (because I lived closer when applying, didn't plan to move). So it's quite a mixed area. Happy to answer any questions about this side of town and I'm sure MrsJamin will too, I think she is pretty close to me and we've unknowingly frequented the same toddler group!

LadyintheRadiator Wed 17-Apr-13 16:47:42

Actually I say I wouldn't want to live closer to that station than this, that's not quite true, it's just so varied. I'm very picky about which roads I would or would not consider. Lots of factors, house type, accessibility, parking etc.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 16:57:10

Gah, I'm confused! We're going to come at the weekend and have a look I think. Too much to think about otherwise.

Tried to make some appointments for viewings in Caversham but they had all gone! Weird.

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