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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!

hannahbarbera Thu 23-May-13 10:33:37

Thanks MT!

mummytime Wed 22-May-13 14:46:09

The thing is the UK is either edgy and funky, or very safe and not at all edgy. I would probably look at the University area as well as Caversham. My niece lives in West Reading, in an area I wouldn't want to live in, but she seems to quite enjoy it, and has lots of friends with young families.

Early Sunday morning is often not the best time to judge a place, especially if its got a lot of students and other young people, or Reading during the festival etc. But last time I was there on Sunday morning it was buzzing as there was a triathalon happening. I really like what they've done to the canal area too.

hannahbarbera Wed 22-May-13 14:29:04

thanks mummytime, a few people have said that. Someone mentioned Caversham. Where else would you recommend? I went to central Reading once early on a Sunday morning, and it was like a disaster scene - vomit, beer cans, take away packaging, almost knee deep. I was a bit shocked. I hope the UK isn't all like that now smile

mummytime Wed 22-May-13 14:20:41

I do wonder if you should really be looking at Reading itself, it might surprise you. It certainly has a vibe.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 22-May-13 13:58:03

The children just have to run faster in the wintergrin. How much time they spend outside is determined by you encouraging them and the quality of their clothes. Winter time for us is a time of board and card games developing other skills and then brisk refreshing walks.

hannahbarbera Wed 22-May-13 13:43:41

Thanks I'll look in to Wallingford and Marlow - and I know Ealing quite well. I love England in the Summer - my big fear is the cold, dark months, that's when I want to be in a town with a vibe, or I might go crazy. Also, stupid question perhaps - but do your kids spend a lot of time outdoors even in Winter? I have horrible images of English children indoors in the central heating watching TV whilst their Spanish counterparts spend most the year outside. Please, someone tell me I'm wrong!

mumblechum1 Wed 22-May-13 09:38:43

yy I used to work in Henley too and Regatta week was unbearable; hundreds of red faced, braying toffs. Although we're half way between Marlow and Henley we always avoid Henley if we possibly can. Marlow's a very similar town in terms of expensive shops, nice park etc but the people are more normal.

AlfieBear87 Wed 22-May-13 05:01:33

And yes, Marlow is definitely better than Henley.

I used to work in Henley, and every year it gets inundated with rich men in straw hats and weird blazers (for the regatta!)

AlfieBear87 Wed 22-May-13 04:57:47

I used to live in Wallingford and I miss it!

The vibe in the summer was amazing with loads of stuff going on in the town. The bunkfest was one of the highlights for me.

The riverbank in the summer is always full of laughing, happy people having bbqs, whilst their kids play in the river. There's also an outside swimming pool and paddling pool for younger kids (the paddling pool is free).

The local countryside is beautiful and it's practically right on the Ridgeway, so there's lots of lovely walks in all directions. There's a walk called 'Grims Ditch' which is literally overflowing with bluebells in the early summer.

My sisters kids went to crowmarsh primary school which was fantastic. We both (my sister and I) move around a lot but we have both made good life-long friends in Wallingford.

I feel quite nostalgic!

Alanna1 Wed 22-May-13 04:05:25

There's a big alternative-yet-mainstream community in Bristol (google Bristol Green Week), but why give up on London? With the jubilee and northern line there are places near waterloo. The less posh areas of london often have more of a community sense to them. Kennington and pimlico both have strong communities eg. Dont forget about crossrail when looking at plaxes.

VestaCurry Wed 22-May-13 03:49:43

Given the commute is to Reading, Londonwise, Ealing is worth looking at, there are some lovely spots, naturally being London it's not particularly cheap. It has a good vibe to it, Pitshanger Park is lovely, has a summer festival each year. At weekends you can easily get in to the centre of London for the galleries/museums/parks and whatever else you want from the city.

Marlow is a super place for families but as others have said it's pricey too.

I'm not a Henley fan, it's v boring.

hannahbarbera Wed 22-May-13 03:36:37

Brilliant advice from everyone here, it's really helping - thanks a lot!

Herhonesty Wed 22-May-13 02:52:37


VBisme Tue 21-May-13 23:23:07

Bristol is lovely, I live close to stroud which is lovely but would much prefer to be in Clifton village Bristol.

You can always go to the farmers market in stroud on a Saturday morning.

vess Tue 21-May-13 23:16:57

Oxford would work if you are relatively near the station. Jericho would be perfect but a bit too expensive. Maybe New Hinksey/Grandpont or Botley (not sure how funky it is, though).
Oxford is very international (in a nice way) , lots of people come and go so it is easier to fit in if you come from abroad.

irregularegular Tue 21-May-13 23:13:08

Cross post with Williamina!

Henley is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

irregularegular Tue 21-May-13 23:10:37

Thame is nice, but not an easy drive to Reading.
Wallingford always feels similar to Thame to me, but closer (still no train)

FayeKorgasm Tue 21-May-13 23:10:29

Henleygrin we live about 5 miles from Henley in the oxfordshire countryside and it is a great town to be close to. There is always something on and the views rowers are stunning!

williaminajetfighter Tue 21-May-13 23:07:50

One more thing, I've heard a lot of families raving about Wallingford which is just 30 mins north of reading in the south tip of oxfordshire.

Good schools. Lots of family friendly stuff. Pretty town. Lots of residents active in the community. Not sure if I'd call it artsy but glorious countryside around there and some pretty reasonable property £.

Have a look. Nearest station is didcot 20 mins to Reading. Easy peasy.

williaminajetfighter Tue 21-May-13 23:02:02

Sorry OP I sounded a bit too negative about Oxford. It does have good theatre, loads of museums and lots for kids. I'm just not crazy about it as I moved from a big city and finding it hard to adjust.

And for me I still feel like it has quite a white, conservative vibe. Even the Oxford University students seem to struggle with funky a bit. 19 year old boys in tweed jackets and brogues scare me...!

williaminajetfighter Tue 21-May-13 22:57:08

OP I live in Oxford and its v expensive and your budget will not go far. There are funky bits I guess but fundamentally it's relatively conservative and I find it quite straight laced and dull. Schools competitive to get into and unless you pay for a pricey house in a good area you are resigned to not so great schools but ok schools. It's a bit of a town of have and havenots....

If I were you I'd check out the villages in S oxfordshire or even Thame which is pretty, has a lovely high street with independent shops and everyone I know who lives around there really likes it. Good transport links into London too.

Cheltenham doesn't have the most frequent of trains but damn it's lovely. I'd go in a flash.

noeyedeer Tue 21-May-13 22:32:40

I think that if you are willing to, then you'll find the 'vibe' that you're looking for in/around Reading. (Although I agree that you should avoid Lower Earley, 'tis a soulless places that I get lost driving around!)

Newbury is lovely. DH commutes Reading to Newbury which takes about 30 minutes on the train plus walking time.

Train tickets from Reading to London can be cripplingly expensive during rush hour, so I assume it's the same London to Reading.

irregularegular Tue 21-May-13 21:05:59

I don't really know it, but the part of Reading near the Uni might be worth looking at too? I think it is a bit cheaper than Caversham and may have a younger, more bohemian feel.

MoominMammasHandbag Tue 21-May-13 20:35:36

It's 20 years since I lived in Reading but I remember it as far more bohemian and community minded than the snobby little villages and towns around it. Windsor is probably the vilest place I have been to in my entire life.
Seriously OP, check out the nicest bits of Reading; commuting is a horrible thing to endure every day.

LadyLech Tue 21-May-13 20:26:28

I would also recommend Oxford, but not Newbury.

Have lived in both these places, and think Oxford is much closer to the description you give. I also think Newbury is vastly overrated. Whilst we were happy living there, there's an awful lot of concrete in Newbury and the canal aside, its not that pretty. Schools are better in Newbury compared to Oxford though (on the whole).

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