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Moving to Herts/Bucks

(20 Posts)
Freyathecatt Thu 16-Jan-14 14:11:01


This is a very hazy general thread but i'd appreciate a chat about Herts and Bucks. We are part of the North London creep and are trying to decide where to move. We are leaving our lovely one bedroom flat in Finchley because our son is 9 months old and we need the space. We have no particular ties to anywhere so will consider anything. We are limited by our budget of £360k and need a commute into London of under an hour. (Although there is a possibility that hubby could work in Cambridge). Ugh, so many considerations, so many options.

Where do you live? Would you recommend it for a young family? What is the Town centre like? Vibrant or tired? Tell me everything. Please help me!

Alicelooksinthelookingglass Thu 16-Jan-14 15:02:18

I live near Hitchin which is a vibrant market town, population 35K. There are good everyday shops including a good Waitrose, as well as S'bury, and cheaper supermarkets, a twice-weekly market, and lots of the usual shops- Next, White Stuff, Cafe nero, Starbucks, as well as individual smaller shops for food- deli, gardens, home accessories, 2nd hand book shops, 2 gyms, swimming pool, 2 good single sex secondary schools and some excellent primary schools- St Andrews and Willian Ransom but you need to live in the catchment area as all over subscribed. Town centre is mix of modern and very old- Elizabethan- buildings.

Commute is 30mins to KX and same to Cambridge. Station parking is a nightmare though and expensive so best to live within walking distance if money is tight.

For your budget you could get a modern 3-bed detached near the station or a 3-bed Victorian semi. There are also lots of 'commuting flats' around £200-£250K near the station if that was a stop-gap option.

A couple or more nurseries- one next to station- and generally the town has a good buzz about it. There are also some villages nearby which are nice but then it is a drive to the station.

Alicelooksinthelookingglass Thu 16-Jan-14 15:05:49

This is one example 2 mins from station- I think my price suggestions were optimistic- prices seem to have shout up so make that 2-beds not 3 for everything near the station..

Right Move

lisad123everybodydancenow Thu 16-Jan-14 15:08:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaebyF Thu 16-Jan-14 15:14:21

Another one in Hitchin, moved there 2 years ago from south London and I love it. The commute is really good, the trains are rarely so full you are standing every day - some mornings I do have to stand if I catch a shorter train, but I get a seat every evenings as they do massive 12 carriage trains out at rush hour. £360k should get you a decent 3-bed house within walking distance of the station. We're 15 mins walk from the station and you get a lot more for your money.

These new builds are going at a good price

This is close to where we are and a similar style house. Might not seem big to everyone but compared to our one-bed London flat, it's a dream!

I'm not sure on the prices, but Welwyn could be worth looking at too?

Alicelooksinthelookingglass Thu 16-Jan-14 15:33:33

Without wanting to sound up my own, I think Welwyn lacks soul. It's a new town and although the town centre has a good John Lewis and usual chains, the area seems a bit lifeless to me. It's a residential town but has no history. Welwyn village is nice but very expensive and would be outside your budget.

MaebyF Thu 16-Jan-14 15:42:47


Hitchin is very nice and friendly, to be fair

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 16-Jan-14 15:51:18

May I suggest bedfordshire? We moved to Leighton Buzzard from London, with a brief sojourn in Baldock, which is near hitchin, and we are so glad we ended up here.

For starts, you get LOADS more for your money - I think most of herts is pretty overpriced. 360k would get you something lovely here. We live in the linslade side of town and it's great - brilliant schools, loads of families. The town is a old market town, loads of independent shops plus a waitrose and a few other high street places. Milton Keynes is 20 minutes drive and has every shop under the sun, cinema, snow dome etc.

The main reason I'm glad we ended up here and not north herts is that the countryside here is lovely - I had no idea bedfordshire was so pretty until I moved here. We also have Rushmere country park, which is massive and the dunstable downs a few miles away.

Trains are into euston and take 30 mins (just under for the fast train I think.)

invicta Thu 16-Jan-14 15:55:19

I agree with Fruitsalad that Bedfordshire is lovely, and you get more for your money. All the villages between Dunstable and Milton Keynes are nice, and Mk is great for shopping, the theatre etc. Newport pagnell, near Milton Keynes is another possibility.

Freyathecatt Thu 16-Jan-14 19:59:50

Thanks for your responses ladies. Hitchin is lovely but the prices there have shot up recently, £360k doesn't go very far at all. I think we've been a little spoiled because our 1 bed flat is 60sq m so we want something reasonably spacious. Dreaming? Probably. Sigh.

Buying our first home should be fun not depressing, demoralising and tiresome. Bah. Off to check out rightmove, offsted and national rail enquiries for the suggestions so far. Ta.

Alicelooksinthelookingglass Thu 16-Jan-14 22:52:10

This is a village 3 miles from Hitchin- nice school, nursery and pre school, 2 pubs etc and shop. On the beds borders but very much Herts.

Thurlow Fri 17-Jan-14 10:50:47

I think it really depends what you want! If you're looking at the Cambridge-London line then that's Hitchin, Letchworth, Welwyn, Royston, Baldock etc. You'll get more for your money in different areas - for example the Stotfold/Fairfield Park area nr Hitchin and Letchworth is popular and you could get either this or or this within your budget.

However the bigger houses tend to be either further away from the station in a nicer town (Hitchin) or in a slightly less nice town (Letchworth - still a nice place, but Hitchin is more popular). So you'd be adding on the cost of driving to the station and parking etc, if cycling isn't an option.

Ditto with Milton Keynes, I'm sure you could get a really nice house there for £360k but MK is the ultimate car city and nowhere is actually anywhere near the station.

Alicelooksinthelookingglass Fri 17-Jan-14 12:03:29

I think you need to do a it of soul searching!

Hitchin is expensive in some areas but there are cheaper houses too . It's a popular town because it's at the top-end of the market compared to other small towns and has a 'cafe culture'. Places like Stotfold are tiny in comparison but have the huge Fairfield estate which even has its own primary school and supermarket- it's like a village but an estate.

That's not my cup of tea but you might like it and it's certainly family orientated, but is still 2 miles at least from the town centre and stations at either Hitchin or letchworth.

On the other hand there are villages such as Ickleford, Pirton, Offley, which are affordable for you and have a village atmosphere, with open countryside on the doorstep, and all have their own primary schools- but a drive to the station.

ginzillas Fri 17-Jan-14 13:13:37

Hitchin is fab! We moved here last year from London and we've never looked back. We had a tiny budget compared to yours and managed to get a nice two bed terrace 15 mins walk from the station. The commute into King's X is fine. We're also right next to an outstanding primary for Dd.

Love the area and have met lots of lovely families, many of them London expats too. For your budget, I think you'd be fine. Poets estate area (70's houses) are cheaper than the Victorian area of town. There's also the 70's estate around Halsey Drive which is within your budget and you'd be in catchment for William Ransom primary. Lots of options!

ginzillas Fri 17-Jan-14 13:14:52

Poets and Halsey Drive estate are easily walkable to the station by the way.

skibeck32 Fri 17-Jan-14 13:27:53

I live in North Herts and I would say that you'd get a lot more for your money in Bedfordshire and would agree that the countryside is nicer.

Hitchin is a nice town but the droves of Londoners moving up has made it a lot more expensive than other towns. While it is fairly good for shops I find it a bit cold and not especially friendly. Letchworth is nice but coming from London probably not as desirable, given that Hitchin does have better shops etc. Baldock is pretty and has good schools. Royston isn't pretty at all but there are fast trains into London which take 35 minutes and then the other way, 15 minutes into Cambridge. Letchworth and Baldock trains are slower than Hitchin and Royston ones into London.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Fri 17-Jan-14 13:35:20

I think Hitchin is ok, but not special enough to justify the prices. We did look at it, but would only have been able to afford a house which was in a not very nice area or a two bed, both of which was a compromise too far for us. I really didn't like Baldock.

TheFantasticFixit Sat 18-Jan-14 01:12:17

We are currently in the process of buying a cottage in Shefford which is Beds/Herts border. Market town with basic shops (morrisons, chemist, GP, library, pubs etc) but property is varied and reasonably priced. Really good schools, and easy drive to Hitchin etc. admittedly, not wildly commutable, no local train station but still only a short drive to Arlesey train station. We are really looking forward to the move now and getting out of London!

VestaCurry Sat 18-Jan-14 01:49:41

I have friends who live in Buckinghamshire.

Couple 1 are in Beaconsfield (30 mins train into London). Very pleasant, town centre has a good mix of shops/cafes etc. It is an expensive area so I don't know what you would get for your budget. Friends have been there 10 years and traded up in terms of property as salaries went up. They want to stay in the area because of the grammar school system. Their 2 young dc's are in an outstanding primary at the moment.

Couple 2 are in Great Missenden which is a very pretty village with a decent sized supermarket and cafes plus various other shops, the Roald Dahl Museum with a cafe that sells especially lovely cakes. There are some beautiful walks and very decent pubs. There is a library (yes, they've not all been closed), and a big park, plus playground attached. Great Missenden into Marylebone is about 50 mins. The dc's are also in an excellent primary and.....these friends plan to stay in the area again because of grammar schools. You may get a bit more for your money than Beaconsfield because the commuting distance is further, although G Missenden is quite picture postcard pretty so I'm not sure.

HissingSid99 Wed 19-Feb-14 19:33:52

I live in a village near Hitchin which is brilliant - but houses are expensive. I have friends in Ampthill which is just over in Bedfordshire and it might be worth a look for you. It's a very pretty Georgian market town with a huge park, great for families and excellent schools. Houses are much cheaper. The train station is in neighbouring Flitwick (IMO nothing like as nice as Ampthill) which has a direct line to King's Cross - I think it's about 50 minutes. You could easily walk/cycle to Flitwick Station, it's very close by. You can also stay on the Thameslink trains to get to Blackfriars and through to South London, so a bit more flexible on that front. For a friendly community/good schools/cheaper houses, I would recommend it.

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