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Winchester vs Stroud

(13 Posts)
hannahbarbera Sun 26-May-13 13:02:51

Hi mums
I've recently got a lot of great advice about places to live near Reading. I don't want to be greedy with your time but this is a slightly different question, and it's really only aimed at those who know both places above (if there is anyone like that!)

I've got the impression from mums that Stroud is very friendly, community minded and 'alternative' and also has access to good schools and good fresh (organic) food. Winchester also has good schools and farmer's markets but is described as 'posh' rather than alternative or friendly. I believe both have fairly low crime rates and are good places for kids to grow up. I know there's a difference in house prices. Stroud has also been described in the media as Notting Hill with wellies whereas Winchester has been described as Covent Garden with countryside - I'm not sure either helps.

The advantage of Winchester for us is that DH can get to Reading in 30mins (depending on the train) whereas from Stroud it's always an hour (or more). Winchester is also better if DH changes job and needs to go to London or, say, Oxford.

But 'friendly and alternative' sounds nice to us (alternative meaning relaxed about people's different ideas, philosophies and lifestyles, creative/arty, etc). So my question is, when you are actually living in Winchester of Stroud, what would be the day to day difference you'd experience in each place?

For example, if you home-schooled, enjoyed composing house music, delayed some vaccines for your kids, breastfed them to age 3 and drank raw milk, would you be shunned in Winchester or would you find enough people who didn't care or even felt the same way (not saying I do all these or would advertise them if I did - just a possibly over the top example to make my point)?

And then, what does friendly actually mean in Stroud, and would you not have it in Winchester? Do neighbours knock on your door and people say hi in the street in Stroud and not in Winchester? And would the fact that you or your kids have accents considered in the UK to be 'posh' matter in either place?

Thanks again mums!

guineapiglet Sun 26-May-13 16:47:47

Hi there - can only answer one half of the question I'm afraid! - Went to Stroud years ago and it is in a very nice part of the world, my maternal Grandmother is from that area and I loved it. <not much help there, then>

We moved to Winchester about a year ago, you are right, it is a quick journey to Reading and shouldn't be too stressful. Not sure how old your kids are, mine are teenagers and there seems to be plenty going on for them. Winchester is an attractive, beautifully kept small city, loads of tourists, very vibrant, and very safe. HS are all excellent and you can get out to the new forest area very quickly and down to the coast. It has a good student population, cinema, theatre, etc, but is not big enough to attract big events if you get my drift, usually have to go to London or Southampton. We moved for job purposes from the NW - I would pretty much move back tomorrow if I had my choice. Climate is better, there is no denying, and in general people are quite friendly. I bet it was wonderful 30 odd years ago without all the 'incomers' though. House prices are ludicrously eyewatering and there is a certain smugness attached to this, it is always being sold as a nice place to live, however recent planning decisions, lack of primary school provision, dire traffic and parking, suggest that its character is going to change tremendously over the next 10 years, and that worries me. The City Council is not very progressive - its recycling is the worst we have ever experienced - but I am sure there are other home schoolers, musicians etc for you to meet and enjoy. There are definite extremes here, very very wealthy, to just normal people getting along, and an attitude amongst some which means never the twain shall meet.......

exoticfruits Sun 26-May-13 16:59:41

We would have liked to move to Winchester, but ruled it out as too expensive. I don't know Stroud, but it wouldn't strike me as handy for Reading.

icravecheese Sun 26-May-13 19:25:08

I believe I posted on your last live in stroud, I live 30miles from Winchester & regularly visit friends there, so whilst I havent lived in either place, I do know them both fairly well.

In a nut-shell: Stroud is 'hippy' (but on the edge of the Cotswolds, so does have 'posh' types near by, but they'd all shop in Cirencester, not Stroud!). There is nothing 'posh' about stroud town centre tho - a teeny bit run down, LOTS of hippie shops / crystal healing, health food cafes etc. You would definetly fit in with the home-schooling / extended breast-feeding / delaying vaccines etc! Its lovely nonetheless though, but defo has that hippy / glastonbury vibe.

Winchester is, literally, like a mini-suburb of London. Full of wealthy people who live there to commute to London. VERY expensive property. Its lovely & beautiful, a lovely friend of mine lives there, but it just seems full of people who have moved out of nappy valley london area (Balham / Clapham etc) to live in the countryside.....

I'm being honest as to how I see it - others might disagree grin

allaflutter Sun 26-May-13 19:54:42

shock chalk and cheese, I'd say! haven't lived in these places myself, but have visited and have heard a lot about them.
You are most likely to be in the conspicuous minority in W with the alternative stuff, whereas Stroud will love you. But Atroud is shabby, whereas W is a twee little town.
I'd say one big advantage of Stroud is that it's in a better area - the countryside around and cities like Bath, Chelt, Bristol, Oxford not far. I think W is very boring as it's tiny and the only happening place nearest is London. That's if you want cultural activities for your self and dc when they are older. Imo you'll be very bored in W - and not much chance people being friendly unless you are in their social group - obv if you have the posh accent it will help grin but would you want the snobby group? Stroud much more chilled, as is many places in SW (where I ilve now).

allaflutter Sun 26-May-13 19:56:41

as are, not 'is'

ElectricSheep Sun 26-May-13 22:47:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hannahbarbera Mon 27-May-13 04:21:25

Great advice, thanks everyone. Looks like what we might be asking is whether there is a reasonable number of Stroud types - or those who tolerate Stroud types- in Winchester? We don't look like 'hippies' and on the surface probably seem very 'Winchester' but underneath it seems we might be much more 'Stroud'. I don't need everyone around me to think the same and don't need lots of crystal healing shops - just don't want play date or dinner invites to dry up if we accidentally express a Stroud type view smile
What do you reckon? !

exoticfruits Mon 27-May-13 06:52:52

Does it have to be one or the other? Have you considered others? Does it need to be a commute by train?

hannahbarbera Mon 27-May-13 10:25:32

Hi exotic - thanks for your reply. No, not really, but I did get a lot of suggestions on my other thread so was trying trying to narrow it down here (and use W and S as representative examples I guess). However, if you know a place that combines the allure of both W and S then please do comment. DH would prefer train but could drive

exoticfruits Mon 27-May-13 19:09:46

Not really-didn't see the other thread. Winchester and Stroud just seem two extremes.

guineapiglet Mon 27-May-13 19:09:59

From what you have written, i now think I am more Stroud than Winchester!!!! smile I dont think i have seen ONE labour poster anywhere round here...... I will say most folk i have met are lovely and it has a nice feel to it. Maybe we havent been here long enough to be plugged in to stuff, but there isnt quite the natural warmth here, it is rather reserved in some areas.. Im working on it.....electric do you eant to swap???!!

guineapiglet Mon 27-May-13 19:10:39


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