Moving to Manchester(59 Posts)
I’m looking for some help and advice if possible. It’s my first post here, so please forgive if I get anything wrong!
Basically, we’re going to be moving to Manchester at the end of the year, and are hoping to buy somewhere when we move, and avoid having to rent while we work out what’s what. We’re in the Midlands at the moment, and will be moving for work – neither of us knows Manchester at all, so we are completely at square one. I’ll be working at the Uni and will need to drive to work; DH will be working in the City Centre too (Spinningfields) and could either drive or use public transport.
We have a DD, who is two, so we really need to make educational choices a big part of this decision. I’ve heard that in Manchester/Cheshire, as is probably true everywhere, the areas with good primaries are often over-subscribed, so even if you’re in catchment etc, you can struggle to get a place.
So, I’m looking for help. We have six months to work it all out, and I’m hoping that, with the collective wisdom of all you good people, you can help shed some light on the options.
What I would really appreciate is thoughts or comments on the areas that people have mentioned to us at interviews etc. The ‘short’ list comprises: Sale, Altrincham, Didsbury (in various directions East, West and so on), Heaton Moor/Chapel/Mersey, Bowdon (though possibly unaffordable based on what I’ve seen on Rightmove), Bramhall, Marple.
I’ve watched enough Phil & Kirsty (or should that be Kirsty & Phil?) to know that you never get everything you want, but the things that will matter to us are:
•Schools (nursery, primary and secondary) – we’d prefer state as that’s more our sort of thing, but aren’t ideologically wedded to it
•Gardens/Greenness of the area – we live in a very leafy, tree-y place where you get lots of families and can get a decent sized garden with a house and would like to keep a bit of that if we can in the place we live
•Stuff for kids to do, and ways for our daughter (and us, as well) to make friends in our new home – could be sports or other community things.
•Commute – we love our daughter and would rather spend time with her than on trains/trams/traffic jams, so a reasonable commute is important
•House Prices – we can’t compete with footballers!
And that’s about it. If you live in/know these places, and would be willing to tell me what you think, I would really, really appreciate it.
Thanks in advance
What's your house price budget? That might pick your area for you.
How many beds? How much mortgage? What are you into? Trafford in general is better for schools than manchester.
Thanks very much for the replies. We need 4 or 5 beds and we'd ideally prefer to keep the budget to 750k, though would inevitably end up pushing beyond that if we really fall in love with a place.
Hard to say what we're particularly into, as I've mostly forgotten what I used to do before DD's arrival - nice evening or weekend strolls around parks would be good, and I do like a good cafe!
what are your thoughts on selective education?
I am aware it's a big draw for some, but I am not keen, and so chose to avoid Trafford borough when we relocated.
From your list
The easiest from your list is Heaton Moor/ heaton chapel to Mcr by train 10
Driving anywhere in rush hour is nightmare, the list you have I would say anything from 30 mins to an hour presume you start at 9am driving to at uni if it's the one on Oxford Road as there are loads of university buildings in Mcr
Heaton chapel desirable heaton moor quite expensive(don't know why)but v nice.
As for Bramhall/Poynton very nice areas but expensive esp Bramhall!
Driving from from there rush hour at least hour. There both have train stations. Good schools so I've heard
Marple is quite far from Mcr to drive esp rush hour, but trains. Again nice area and schools.
As said Sale/Altrincham if near tram stop yer 20 mins, driving 40 mins plus. Also nice area
It does really depend on finances! As to what area. As you know there are good parts and not so good parts of every district.
Re cafe, defo Heaton Moor, Didsbury as loads. Bramhall as few.
You've a good budget. Hale/Bowdon are the only areas where your budget may see compromises in the type of house and/or garden.
Key for me are the length of the commute and how much greenery you want. If 'greenery' means an urban park and trees planted along roads then fine, else you may find many of the areas you've specified too urban. What I consider a decent sized garden is a tough ask for your budget in Hale/Bowdon - although everyone's view on garden size is different.
Marple is very different from your other options and gets you much more greenery/open spaces but at the cost of being a longer commute. Has a very different feel from the Manchester and Stockport suburbs.
Bear in mind that if you are looking at public transport to work then consider the logistics of school with your working hours. Many schools allow drop off from 0845 - not too bad if you're continuing on a 30 min drive to work, but much worse if then driving to a station, catching the next train etc.
Also consider that suburbs (e.g. Altrincham) 'feel' closer to Manchester but the commute by tram takes a similar duration to rail links from further out (e.g. Bramhall). I get the train some of the time from Chelford to Manc - people think that's miles out, but takes me less than10 mins longer than when I was doing Alty > Manc by tram.
Agree with Mini about Heaton Moor with your budget. Really easy commute into Manchester on the train (7 mins, 2 stops), also reasonable to the University. Has library, park, cafes and a handful of independent shops. There is a bit of a squeeze on primary places though. The local secondary has a good reputation (no direct experience but I live in catchment now and families generally try to move into area to go).
Didsbury has a bigger centre, also pressure on school places and the secondary has not got quite as positive reputation, though I know one family very happy with it.
Have you considered North Manchester? Your budget would get you something great in Prestwich with a big garden. Lots of green spaces such as Drinkwater Park, Prestwich Clough, Heaton Park. Metrolink into Manchester or drive not too bad. Much less crowded than South Manchester as well.
I'd say Marple/Bramhall as you are much closer to open countryside and schools are good. Bramhall easier for commuting to the uni though just up the A34.
Have you considered Poynton - would meet all your criteria and is a lovely self contained village with good schools and access to the canal and Lyme Park. Or even Wilmslow, your budget would be enough for something nice.
What do you count as a reasonable commute? Twenty minutes, forty minutes? I'd rule out Bramhall, Poynton etc with either really.
How will DH get to work- drive or tram?
What sort of an area do you want to live in? Do you want to be able to walk to shops and to have a bit of a local high street etc?
You need to think about schools more. Would you consider private or state? Do you want your daughter to sit the 11 plus. Trafford, which includes Sale, Hale, Altrincham etc still has the grammar school system. Don't assume that means that the grammar schools are automatically better- some of them have poor value ie children still do well bet considering the level they enter from primary school they should do better. Trafford is one of the highest performing LEAs though, with something like over 80% of schools rates good or outstanding. That been said, a lot of Trafford is very white middle class, and if you want to grow up in a more multicultural area, it might not be the right choice for you.
If I has £750k to spend and wanted a 30 minute or less commute I'd look at
Worsley (part of Salford)
Chorlton (slightly more alternative multicultural vibe)
West/ East Didsbury
I have an irrational dislike of anything Stockport (including the Heatons etc) as the a6, a34 etc are a pain and there's no tram etc.
I live between Bramhall and Marple and both are nice, especially Bramhally - we would live there if we could afford it! Marple cheaper . However both are a PITA to commute from - traffic is horrendous in south Manchester and the trains are crappy and go to Piccadilly which is not particularly good for spinningfields or uni.
From your list I think Heatons worth considering, lots of it is really nice with villagey feel and although the traffic issue still applies you're much closer in (and the right side of the m60) to start with. Also you get much less for your money than you would in , say, Marple, thoiugh with your budget there should still be nice options.
Altrincham sadly gone downhill a bit though Hale nice (like alderley edge/Wilmslow a big pretentious ). I would definitely consider Sale for grammar schools and the met. Also Didsbury though it's mostly ginormous houses and flats and nothing in between.
Not keen on bowdon, not really anything there though you are close to Alty.
With your budget I would go for Didsbury or Chorlton. Possibly Sale. When buying in Trafford don't forget to factor in that your child might not pass the 11+ so it is wise to look at all schools not just the grammars.
Worsley, though lovely, especially the area close to Worsley village, is not a 30 minute commute and the wrong side of the city for the university. It will take a lot longer. Traffic along the A580 is horrendous and getting onto it would be a pain. The public transport option is limited to bus only and the provision is nowhere near as good as the areas you have already identified.
If schools is the top of your list, then I think you need to be in Trafford. The grammar schools are regularly in the highest performing league tables and the alternative (secondary schools) are out-performing many comparable comps now in the wider area. I think you could certainly get 4 beds for �750k in Altrincham, maybe in Hale too depending on what extras you wanted (plot size / garden). The village centre of Hale is lovely with bars / restaurants and a multitude of things to do for children. Dunham Park on your doorstep and the Bollin area too. Has a good community spirit too. Don't class Bowdon as a separate area, its literally a 5-10 min walk to Hale centre (although yes, Bowdon is ���). Similarly Hale is on the doorstep of Altrincham, so even on the outskirts of Hale you can walk to Atrincham station / tram in about 15 mins.
Sale is within Trafford too but the centre isn't as nice as Hale but your money will definitely go further. You'd get 4-5 bed with your budget in Sale.
The only thing I would advise if you're considering a move to Trafford is to do your homework re catchment areas. Consider catchment for secondary schools too. All of the schools (primary & secondary) are massively over-subscribed (I think there were 1500 children sit the entrance exams for Altrincham Girls for 180 places, and the same for the Boys this year).
How exciting, I love Manchester and a few years ago were in your situation, with 2 primary age children, similar budget and requirements. We chose Hale for schools and 'village' life. The house, or actually garden size was the compromise we made. Would have loved it to be a little further out (greener), but that wasnt possible with our no1 criteria, which was to be able to take the children to/from school ourselves.
To get our working hours in, we had to be home-school-work= 30 mins tops and the traffic really is crappy in most of Manchester, so this ruled out alot of areas.
Thank you again for all your helpful contributions! To help refine it, I think ideally the commute would have to be kept below 45 mins at peak times for me to drive to the Oxford Rd campus, and a bit more by either driving or public transport for DH to get to work. At the moment, DD goes to a nursery where she can be dropped off at 8.00 onwards and it's quite near my work, so if anyone has any experience of nurseries in the 'short listed' areas or near the Uni, that would be brilliant. When we get to school age, I guess we'll be looking at either breakfast/after school clubs - provision of that type of care would be a big plus, as our local schools all do that currently.
With regard to selective education, I do worry a bit about it (people tell me it can all get very fraught) but I guess that is something that we have to consider. I definitely wouldn't rule a place out just because of it. Am quite happy with faith schools, similarly.
If he's working in spinningfields area he'll have a 20 min walk from Piccadilly so don't forget to factor that in
Most of the nurseries have pretty standard hours (8-6) and quite alot of the schools in Hale / Altrincham have on-site breakfast / after school clubs. Public transport into the city centre is definitely do-able within 45 mins (tram). I don't know about a drive though to Oxford Rd in 45 mins. I'd definitely suggest renting, even for a few months, as buying without the benefit of living here / doing the commute / getting the know the area would be quite hard.
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