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Whereto from London? (Plotting the escape)

(55 Posts)
eversomuch Sun 13-Jul-14 20:43:14

I increasingly dream of "escaping" London. I love a lot about living here but it's just becoming so expensive and although we are close to some lovely parks & green space, it's not the same as countryside.

I didn't grow up in the UK so am not that familiar with places outside London, so I'd love some suggestions for places that meet the following criteria:

- small to medium-sized town/city

- maximum 90 minutes from London by train (but ideally within 1-hour)

- good public transport as we'd like to avoid having to get a car for as long as possible

- progressive

- good schools (DD starts primary school Sept 2015)

- good cultural offerings

- lovely community (we're atheists, so non-church-based community)

- easy access to nature

- NOT ON THE FLIGHT PATH! It seems wherever we live in London, we are plagued by plane noise.

Places like Cambridge, Oxford & Bath come to mind, but I'm sure there are other places I don't know about that would be worth exploring. Any suggestions? TIA

RuddyDuck Sun 13-Jul-14 22:20:18

Cambridge definitely fits the bill. Less than an hour to London, loads of culture on offer thanks to the University, a proper City but small, so easy to get to know it quickly. Also, really good gor cycling. Lots of diversity in the city although less so in the villages around. The only downside is that the countryside around isn't as pretty as some other parts of the country.

flingingmelon Sun 13-Jul-14 22:22:59

Cambridge is lovely. I escaped London last year and if I'd had a completely free rein that's where I'd have gone. It is a bit of a hike for a regular London commute though, that's why didn't do it.

iseenodust Sun 13-Jul-14 22:24:14

Norwich, Exeter (does it meet the 1.5 hours?).

Purplewithred Sun 13-Jul-14 22:29:08

Godalming. Guildford if you want a bit more urban. If you need a London commute need to take into account door-to-door not just the train time.

ishouldcocoa Sun 13-Jul-14 22:31:58

Farnham in Surrey. Lovely Georgian town with arty crafty vibe. Excellent schools, too. Check out South Farnham School.

BranchingOut Mon 14-Jul-14 06:55:01


BranchingOut Mon 14-Jul-14 06:56:50

South coast towns

There is a book/website called 'Commuterland' which would be useful for you.

Efferlunt Mon 14-Jul-14 07:05:17

Winchester fits the bill. Think carefully about what you want tho and don't underestimate the commute. Why are you try to leave? London has a lot going for it and we miss it a lot.

BikeRunSki Mon 14-Jul-14 07:05:39

East Grinstead
Forest Row
Hayward's Heath
Bishop's Stortford (might be planes with this one)

wigglylines Mon 14-Jul-14 07:20:00

Eastbourne. We moved here from London and love it. 90 minutes from victoria by train. A choice of great primaries. Beautiful countryside on your doorstep. We live in old town and i can walk to the downs in minutes from my house, or go down the beach. There are forests and miles of beautiful Sussex countryside a short drive away. Great pubs for sunday lunch all over the country side.

If you want to play the property prices game, have a look at Old Town to be near great primaries

Eastbourne is full of families with young children who have come to Eastbourne from London, Brighton and further afield, for the good schools and cheaper house prices. Your money goes much further here. Consequently it's been easy to make friends as so many families are in the same boat, new to town and looking to make friends.

I would caution that Eastbourne isn't traditionally a progressive place. It's pretty mainstream. Nearby Brighton is where you'll find an arty, progressive vibe. (they have a green MP for example). However i feel that may be changing, slowly, with so many people moving here from traditionally more progressive places. There are some great community projects afoot for example.

wigglylines Mon 14-Jul-14 07:23:47

90 minutes is a hefty commute though. DP doing it and not enjoying it. He is angling for some days working from home as he reckons that would make it much more doable. Would you / your DP be commuting 5 dsys a week?

wigglylines Mon 14-Jul-14 07:25:45

His commute is 2 hours + however because he has to get across town from victoria. What part. of London do you need access to?

wigglylines Mon 14-Jul-14 07:34:19

Lewes mentioned above is a beautiful town, stunning place to wander around. Very pricey though, and i have heard, not always so friendly to newcomers. I can't lie i would be tempted if i had that kind of money though!

Brighton's a great place if you want progressive politics and an arty vibe. Agsin much more expensive thsn Eastbourne but i would be tempted if i could afford it. Fierce competition for houses near good schools. Full of ex londoners! Have a look at Preston Park area for a good primary. Sure there's others but i don't know them.

wigglylines Mon 14-Jul-14 07:42:35

What's your budget, roughly?

PiratePanda Mon 14-Jul-14 09:02:32

Brighton and Cambridge both fit your bill. Don't forget that you need to consider the door to door commute, not just the train time. That means you need to be looking at places only an hour by train, not any further. I live by the station, my train journey is 50 mins and it still takes me 1.5 hours to get to my desk in Central London.

Oxford, frankly, is too far. I know people do commute in from there but I wouldn't, and I like commuting.

Saffron Walden in Essex is lovely, train station is Audley End.

xlatia Mon 14-Jul-14 12:11:17

oooh, OP, i could have written your post! we're in exactly the same situation, apart from the fact that i want to be within walking distance from the sea, so i shall be watching with interest. just had a look at the property prices in hastings and was pleasantly surprised.

xlatia Mon 14-Jul-14 12:13:00

and just to add my tuppence, i know someone who commutes from oxford into paddington. only 3 times a week and she loves her london job but hates, hates, hates the commute so much that she's actually cutting down days at the office.

VeryPunny Mon 14-Jul-14 12:22:52

Cambridge fits your description but don't delude yourself into thinking that it's much cheaper than London. Much less free stuff than London, and public transport is £££ (but at least you can cycle everywhere).

If you have to commute, I doubt you'll be any better off once you combine mortgage plus season ticket, and you'll have the commute time to worry about too.

Also I find the Cambridgeshire countryside a bit dull and bland - no hills or features worth talking about.

ShineSmile Mon 14-Jul-14 12:27:12

Cambridge is perfect, but sadly not much cheaper, and with the commuting costs, probably ends up the same. But people in Cambridge are so lovely and cultured smile

ShineSmile Mon 14-Jul-14 12:28:01

Xlatia, Hastings is a complete dead town! confused

BikeRunSki Mon 14-Jul-14 12:28:47

Virginia Water

Depends on your budget I guess

I know someone who commutes to London from Doncaster three times a week.

Velvetbee Mon 14-Jul-14 12:30:38

Winchester. V pretty, all sorts of folks, lots of things to do, good schools, glorious countryside.

xlatia Mon 14-Jul-14 12:34:04

shinesmile that's probably why it's so cheap grin i'm not from the UK so haven't got a clue - obviously.

ShoutyMom Mon 14-Jul-14 12:36:27

Woking and nearby - Horsell, Knaphill, Sunningdale etc

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