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Funky town to live within about an hour from Reading

(139 Posts)
hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 09:22:43

Hello mums
We are moving back to the UK from a lovely place where kids are idolised, food is fresh and strangers are friendly and open minded. Is it an impossible dream to find something similar within about an hour's (probably train) commute from Reading, where DH will be working? We would probably like lots of organic food, a community minded place where different lifestyle choices are accepted, low crime and kid friendly. If it could be arty and with good schools too, so much the better. So far I have come up with Stroud. Am I right about Stroud? Is there anywhere else in any direction from Reading? We have a budget of around 400-550k for a 3-4 bedroom house, preferably nearer 400!
Thank you so much!

irregularegular Mon 20-May-13 10:54:12

Should add - I imagine there are other villages that would also fit the bill that are cheaper if you are willing to drive and/or go further from London/Oxford. The hard thing is to get a grip on the feel of a place - it doesn't show on up estate agent details.

mummytime Mon 20-May-13 11:09:19

Organic food is not a problem in most places.

BUT I think you are are not going into this with the right attitude, if you are moving you have to be willing to experience new people, new places and new cultures. Otherwise you are just like Brits who move to the Costa Brava and insist on Fish and Chips.

You may find kid friendly difficult to get in the UK, depending on what you mean by that, but most of us cope. Community minded and diversity could be obtained in Reading. Low crime might be something you have to hunt for (and is often in different places to real diversity).

formicadinosaur Mon 20-May-13 11:30:02

Yes the very centre of Stoud is a bit rough at night but less then Bath/Bristol/Cheltenham etc. The Stroud area is very alternative as you know with lots of steiner education and creative ventures. Bath, Tetbury, Cirencester and Cheltenham are not really alternative as such. Bristol is in parts.

Chalford (East of Stroud by 3 or 4 miles) is absolutly stunning, with fastastic well regarded primary and secondary schools. Chalford is quite a creative hot spot with lots of creative types living there. There is also a community run shop and leisure facilities at the secondary school amongst other things.

Then about a mile outside of Stroud is Rodborough which has two great primary schools and feeds to two secondary schools (wonderful school in chalford and then also a very mixed down a thte heels school in Stroud)

Also some of my work mates live in central Nailsworth and rave about it. They have older kids.

The Stroud area is very green, bumpy and lush. My boys have so much fun when we visit! I know people do sometimes travel for empolyment but there are buses, trains and lots of citys close by.

formicadinosaur Mon 20-May-13 11:33:05

Totness is another similar creative/alternative place but a long train ride.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 12:21:40

Hey thanks everyone - really great tips. Formica, it's really great to know which of the areas around Stroud are hotspots, alot of nearby places come up on Rightmove of course but I have no idea what each of them is like, so thanks! Stroud does sound nice with the farmer's market, arty types, diverse education approaches, organic food, etc. How rough does it get in the centre? Are there lots of bored young people around? Does anyone know of outsiders (and particularly Londoners) who have been accepted quite easily there?
I love to contribute time, effort and even money to a community, but as we all know, that only works if there's a critical mass of people all doing the same thing. I am reassured that there seem to be a few places like that in England - hooray!

Mummytime you are right. I'm just a bit scared, 'sall. But I know you're right smile

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 12:22:13

PS Formica yes Totnes would be lovely I think, but alas, too far sad Shame!

formicadinosaur Mon 20-May-13 13:28:51

Stroud/Nailsworth/chalford seems to attract tons of ex Londoners - often they spend a few years in Bristol before moving in to the Stroud valleys. My mum and I have rarely met a true local!

Not really noticed bored young people in the town during the day but there is a real mix of people types and shops - the fair trade cafes/organic food shops etc are up the road from cheap Wilkinsons. Some parts of central town are attractive and have an alternative vibe, other central areas are down at the heels.

There are tons of things that happen outside of Stroud town centre (in the sticks and in the communities surrounding) - places to eat, groups, activities and so on. The wealthier areas are outside of Stoud town itself but people are generally very understated and interesting.

I live in a village near Reading. My advice OP is to move to Reading and give your DH a shorter commute. Have a look at Pangbourne, Purley and Bucklebury and all the bits in between.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 13:37:11

Thanks again Formica, so do you think Chalford, Nailsworth and Rodborough are the nicest areas or are there any others? Are any of them better for DH's trip to the station and/or schools?

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 13:43:04

Thanks WDACG. Do any of those villages have a funky, alternative, or whatever you call it vibe? I don't necessrily mean in the way people dress or anything, but for example I like the way places like Totnes and Stroud seem to have a focus on community events and action, local organic food, different approaches to education etc

2margarinesonthego Mon 20-May-13 13:43:16

I was going to say Brighton too.
I think Winchester and Guildford are pretty cool but I may be in a minority there! I would give my right arm to live in Winchester.

Agree with Bath and Bristol also.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 13:46:08

I'd like to know more about Winchester, it's definitely within striking distance. I know it's pretty but what kind of vibe does it have?

CinnabarRed Mon 20-May-13 13:48:51

Another vote for Newbury.

Mintyy Mon 20-May-13 14:14:38

Winchester has a plain old filthy rich vibe wink.

It is very middle class and full of people who have moved out of London. It is a picturesque commuter town with very high house prices and rather overrated, I would say.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 14:37:17

interesting mintyy, thanks. Why is it overrated, do you think? Doesn't it have much going for it? I'm not too bothered about rich or middle class but I wouldn't like conservative, unfriendly etc. Is that how it is? Is Winchester different from, say, Bath or Oxford in that respect (I really have no clue, they just all seem 'famous' so I'm wondering.)?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 20-May-13 14:38:38

Newbury it feels pretty good at the moment with open studios and spring festival going on. I have visited 7 studios this month photograph, bronzes, pottery, mixed medial, pen and ink and appliqué. Three live venues the corn exchange, new greenham arts and The Watermill. Lovely farmers market twice a month, plus several nice farm shops nearby. The canal running through the centre of the town gives it a different feel. Plus Greenham Common the Single most important environmental project of the 20th century.
Bucklebury is a lovely village, but really very, very pricey now as it is home to the future kings parents in law.

Bramshott Mon 20-May-13 14:57:06

Glad that others like Newbury! We don't live there but DH works there and I love popping in to meet him for lunch.

Some of the places on this thread (Stroud, Bath, Bristol) are a LONG way from Reading (although with quick trains, wouldn't take too long I guess).

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 15:00:19

Thanks Bramshott and Lonecat, we'll have to check Newbury out. 1hr by train is the max we're looking at, obviously less is better. But DH and I would rather live in a place which suits us even if the commute is an hour. Of course, with delayed trains it could become a real pain...

Mintyy Mon 20-May-13 15:01:32

Hannah - I know Winchester very well.

It is very "home counties" if you know that expression.

It is not really a young, creative place. There is a disproportionate amount of middle aged and older Sloaney types. House prices have always been high there, perhaps because it is so attractive and in lovely Hampshire countryside and still just about commutable to London (though v expensive and quite a long train journey).

It just doesn't match what you say you are looking for in your op, tis all.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 15:08:26

Got it! Thanks again Mintyy

formicadinosaur Mon 20-May-13 15:28:15

Rodbrough is about a 1 mile from Stroud train station? Fine on a bike but there is parking. Rodborough is nice and very much on the edge of the town.

Chalford is partway between rural Kemble train station and Stroud train station. Lot's there but no proper village centre despite being large - it's all scattered. Amazing views! Many different kids parks. Family orientated.

Nailsworth is slightly trickier location wise possibly? There would be a longer drive to stations maybe.

What type of schooling were you considering? State, private, grammar, Steiner or homeschool? It has them all! I think there are also various other alternative new schools popping up.

If looking at state schools I'd opt for the Thomas Keble Secondary School catchment of Rodborough (email the school for catchment details) OR Chalford/Chalford Hill/France Lynch (avoiding most of Bussage). From Chalford, Stroud station is about 8/10 mins drive away and Kemble possibly 20?? Kemble station is one small step closer towards Reading though.

Areas like Painswick, Amberley, Tetbury, Minchinhampton are all quite lovely and posh but not alternative really.

Brimbscome is on the hill opposite Chalford, again with great views. It's a little further way from shops. Not sure about the community aspect.

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 15:29:58

thanks again formica, very kind smile

teacher123 Mon 20-May-13 15:45:28

Henley on Thames? It's really pretty, posh, lovely butchers and independent shops as well as a decent waitrose, tescos etc. lots of family things to do, loads of outside space and so so pretty. 15 minute drive from reading...

hannahbarbera Mon 20-May-13 15:52:28

Henley looks nice and I don't mind a bit of posh but is there a healthy wackiness to the place at all?

CinnabarRed Mon 20-May-13 16:00:52

Henley is packed with tourists in the summer, and it's not a 15 minute drive during rush hour! Marlow, also lovely, has exactly the same problem. Both are also very expensive.

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