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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.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 17-Apr-13 17:14:32

I live between the centre and Reading West station, and have been here for nearly 13 years. Grew up in London, then lived in Oxford for a long time. I like Reading actually - it's not fancy but there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here if you poke about.

West Reading's not for everyone, but your money will go quite far smile I love it being 5 minutes walk to town, and my kids being able to go round to the swimming pool or the parks by themselves as they're so close.

Can't help with primary schools as I home edded then, but I have kids at the grammars (yes, competitive!) and one who goes over to Woodley to school as I'm not completely convinced by the secondaries over this side.

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 17-Apr-13 17:16:08

Oh, and I like the festival - if the wind's in the right direction I can sit in my garden and listen to it :-)

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 17-Apr-13 17:44:19

That's why I didn't like it, Atia. To be fair I did seem to be the only person in Reading who was bothered by it.
Its actually quite a nice town, but, like everywhere else, if you're going to live there it has to suit you and it didn't suit me.

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 17:46:41

Oh yes, affordable family homes in Caversham get snapped up in days.

If you feel like a project there's a Victorian/Edwardian semi on Priory Avenue going cheap. Those houses go for around £360k when fully modernised. Could be an option.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 17:49:19

yeah, I saw that one - it's open house only because they've had so much interest. And offers already so think it might be beyond our tight budget. Shame, because I thought it could be perfect when I saw it.

BlueSkySunnyDay Wed 17-Apr-13 18:47:04

I hate to say it but that will probably go to a developer.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 17-Apr-13 19:05:42

I hope not, it would a great project for a family. As soon as I saw that one I could see us living in it for years. Alas, not to be!

nancerama Wed 17-Apr-13 19:10:57

Keep an eye on it and let the estate agent know how interested you are. A similar house a couple of streets away in a similar condition came back onto the market twice. You never know, you could be lucky.

lightrain Wed 17-Apr-13 19:16:35

Try the area around Castle Street and Russell Street (West Reading). Very short walk into town, with nice bars and restaurants on your doorstep in the oracle, etc. Should be plenty of 3 bed terraces in our price range - Victorian, fair size (not huge but certainly not tiny). I don't think you will want to be in earley/ Wokingham/ Woodley area from your description tbh - sounds like you are after more of a city feel than residential area feel, short walk from the centre. Lower earley especially is pretty much a huge housing estate and the buses into town are not brilliant on an evening.

schobe Thu 18-Apr-13 10:08:29

Sorry, didn't mean to sound so ominous with the 'mistake' comment.

But I lived in London and Reading and they're just different - naturally so as one is so much smaller than the other. But depending on what aspects and what areas of London you liked, you may love it!

Somebody mentioned Castle Street/Russell Street area and, yes, I've lived there too (god I've lived bloody everywhere) and agree that sounds like it might fit the bill well. Don't know about schools round there as was childless at the time. Did teach in Tilehurst though but a long time ago - schools were very mixed there.

I would perhaps PM some people on this thread who live there currently and see if you can wheedle some more local info from them!

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 10:21:34

There is a house there which looks interesting. Puts us in catchment for Coley Road school though which doesn't look amazing, although last ofsted was 2009. Anyone know it?

daisydoodoo Thu 18-Apr-13 13:43:29

now coley makes me go a bit cat bum faced. Going to sound like a huge snob, but there are huge high rise flats there that a lot are used for temporary accomadation. I base my feelings towards the area on quite a few years ago now, as a late teen my friends family were moved into thier (house reposessed) and they had countless episodes of trouble. In the end they sent my friend to live with relatives in Whitley as they didnt feel she was safe in Coley. Thats such a shame as the area by the park has some lovely older houses, and i should imagine good prices.

Maybe someone else who lives there can confirm that the area has improved/the homes outside of the estate are fine?

You say that you loved living in london, but the areas are so diverse, its hard to tell what it is that you long for in a suburban area. My friend moved from Notting Hill to Woodley about 8 years ago and she doesnt miss London at all, but she still visits regualrly for Gallery openings, and other social events as thats the field she works in, so perhaps she has the best of both worlds? A short hop to the centre, but gets to come home and enjoy the quieter pace of a non city suburb?

Reloacting is so difficult, I don't envy you. I used to live in York, was so hard to avoid the 'dodgy' areas if you didn't know the area well, and was just as expensive s Reading anyway.

nancerama Thu 18-Apr-13 13:49:47

Friends who live in Coley catchment all claim that the money they save by buying a period property in that area is quickly swallowed up by private school fees. Sorry hmm

Wibblytummy Thu 18-Apr-13 13:51:38

I live in Caversham and can honestly say I love it. We were considering moving out of the area pre-children but since having my DS, we don't want to be anywhere else. There are heaps of children's centres, churches and libraries with groups and activities for barely a £1 each. There are some lovely restaurants/cafes (if you do pop for a visit, the Alto Lounge has a great family atmosphere and My Ala Carte is some of the yummiest food about) but if you want more choice we just amble the 15 minute walk over the bridge and in to Reading town centre. The Caversham village has all we need for walks and buggy trips out, post office, good library, plenty of doctors/dentists, Waitrose, Iceland and coffee shops. There's a sweet children's toy/book store etc. The schools are actually very good as well but highly competitive. Most parents fight to get in Caversham Primary with it's outstanding OFSTED but Thameside is due to have another OFSTED review later this year and is expected to go up in score. We personally avoided anything in the Micklands catchment as we're just in the process of leaving the more undesirable side of town (bought unknowingly back in 2006) to the centre and all the kids from this estate go there. The senior Highdown is an academy and is getting some very high reviews over the last few years. Having just bought here though, the houses are very competitive, especially in the 250k to 350k region. By the time they are on Rightmove they are usually already snapped up. If you do like it here, register with the agents on your visit (there's more than several as it's such a healthy estate trade here) and explain, they are fab at getting on the phone the minute they think they have something suitable. The festival is no bother at all, actually the town has a lovely atmosphere when it's on. The only days that are a pain are the night before it starts when the entire of Reading is full of cars dropping kids off there and the same on the afternoon when it's finished. They are usually on sight or in the local Aldi buying crates of pot noodles, to not be bothered walking in to Caversham.

We had the option to buy a wonderful house in the Coley Park Catchment but talking to local people and their reviews we were put off by the school. If you can possibly talk to parents I think thats the best way to get a feel for a school.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:52:43

Tbh, my life isn't that exciting (!), but what I loved about the suburb of London I lived in was the great parks, lots of toddler groups/activites, good restaurants and interesting shops within walking distance, and lots of other young families about. And being able to reach central London for days out. All of which I think I should be able to find outside London.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:54:34

Ok, scrap Coley Road!

nancerama Thu 18-Apr-13 13:54:47

I would really make friends with lots of estate agents. You're in a good position of you're in rented with no chain. It's not unusual for good properties to get listed on Rightmove as sold without ever going on as for sale. Details of suitable properties get sent to buyers who are ready to move a couple of days before they go onto Rightmove.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 13:57:10

Sounds like Caversham is about right. Houses in Caversham Park are obviously quite a bit cheaper but it's a long way out - does it feel cut off from Caversham centre/Reading?

Btw, sorry for short posts/not respnding properly - I'm juggling a grumpy baby and 3yo!

Wibblytummy Thu 18-Apr-13 14:08:36

Not much experience of Caversham Park sorry, it was a bit far out for us there but you can get a lot more for your money. Think they have the usual parades of shops etc but not a town centre, Emmer Green is quite near there and has a few bits and bobs but suspect they may be on the quiet side?

HerrenaHandbasket Thu 18-Apr-13 14:13:27

A vote for West Reading here - we're near the Oxford Road but transport links into town are brilliant and there are some good schools in our area too (primaries that is - not sure of secondaries). Lots of mum groups in this area and all over the town, the children's centres are never more than 20min drive away.

We got a 3-bed in this area for circa 180k, so might be worth considering. We've got 2 small DCs as well, so we chose with them in mind. I agree that the Reading festival and marathon are not major issues at all (although maybe the festival is, if you live in Caversham). I wouldn't live in Caversham anyway as I don't believe you get that much more house (or nicer house) for your money.

Mutley77 Thu 18-Apr-13 15:40:00

We lived in Caversham for nearly ten years - most of that with young children and we loved it. Would totally agree with Wibblytummy about the life with children. Caversham Primary and Emmer Green are definitely the favoured primary schools - The Hill is also good. Highdown (secondary) goes up and down but seems to be v good at the mo - outstanding ofsted.

C park village is a bit far out - if you drive it would be fine. But is a lot further for station commute too.

Your options are a bit limited on a 250K budget - you would probably be looking at kings rd / queens rd or maybe oxford / chester street but would be a fairly small property.

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:02:54

I also live in Caversham. We moved from South West London in July. We love it here, based on all the things you said you liked - nice parks, villagey feel, groups, etc. I also have family here, and can honestly say I am happier here than in London. Reading town centre is easy enough to walk to (and it's a nice walk, in the daylight at least, although as someone said, a bit dark at night, but plenty of people do it) and it has pretty much all the major shops you need. The best thing is that I don't go there that often as it's nice to stroll into Caversham and there's enough there to keep DS entertained - little toy shop, river walk, nice cafes, even a small soft play centre in the gym.

Prices have shot up recently, because at the moment - though this could change - there aren't enough sellers. Consequently getting a house is even more stressful than usual. £250k for a 3 bed could be difficult in central Caversham, although as somebody mentioned, the areas around King's Road and Queen's Road are possible (but will be snapped up quickly; plus the third bedroom is often very small in these terraced houses). I'm afraid I can't really advise about Caversham Park, as I don't really know the area. Emmer Green is nice, though. We are trying to buy here for the same budget, except we're also considering 2 bedroom houses, and we've been looking several months. Buy-to-let landlords are a particular pain as they have snapped up several properties from our hands at the asking price or more, or otherwise we've been outbid by other depserate first-time buyers who happen to have the extra £5k to cover the ridiculous rise in stamp duty (I was weeping into my tea about that last week, but feeling slightly more upbeat now <sniff>)

The 'best' schools are currently deemed to be Caversham Primary and Emmer Green Primary - I think they're rated outstanding, and The Hill Primary is also meant to be good. The catchment area for Caversham Primary is notoriously difficult to get into, and most of the houses there are larger and a lot more expensive, unless you go for a flat. The catchment school for most houses in central Caversham is Thameside, which apparently isn't amazing (rated 'average' by Ofsted I think) BUT these things change over time, and it's always worth looking at the school with an open mind.

Good luck - let me know if you move here, as I also have a 3 year old smile

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 16:12:23

Thanks Kalypso, that sounds positive. So are you renting at the moment?

The estate agents I've spoken to thought our budget would be fine, and I have seen quite a few possibles although they have gone quickly, it's true.

Kalypso Thu 18-Apr-13 16:17:35

Yes, we are. The budget would be fine, but we have probably struggled because we've been trying to avoid properties too close to the river, although that's pretty difficult since most of lower Caversham is on the flood plain! Properties out of the flood plain seem to be a lot more expensive. Saying that, I don't think lower Caversham has seriously flooded since the late 40s, and we are beginning to reconsider and widen our net a little.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 18-Apr-13 16:22:11

oh, goodness, I hadn't even considered flooding. The way the weather has been going recently...

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