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Should I leave London for Durham/Newcastle?

(79 Posts)
ZeldaPetals Mon 14-Sep-15 13:49:41

I recently separated after 19 years' marriage and now have to leave the flat we've rented for 18 years in SW London as my landlord won't accept me staying on and seeking housing benefit (he's never paid tax on the rent...) I'm in my late 40s, with friends in London only and no family other than the father of my 12 yo son. I am self-employed, working from home, with no chance of ever buying and don't see myself as ever standing a chance of an income that would allow me to pay full London/Surrey rent without benefits - not the way I want to live my life.

An acquaintance who is looking to get a buy-to-let property would be happy for me to choose a house anywhere in England I like; she would then buy and let it to me for as long as I'd want it, at minimum possible rent. I would take care of the house, any internal repairs, decoration, etc; the budget is max 120k (at the top of the budget it'd have to be ready to live in). Having looked around, it seems to me that in order to get a good home in a decent area on that budget I'll have to go North to the Durham/Newcastle area. Obviously I'll have to visit the area and try to get a feel for it myself, but I wonder if anyone here could tell me more about the area? Are there places I should definitely not look at, or any that are cheap but absolutely should be considered? I dont mind the climate as I grew up east of there, across the North Sea (been in London since 1991), but are there other things I should know about living up there? Are people open and friendly to 'foreigners'.

My son has always been home educated, so I would prefer living in an area where there are other home educators nearby, or at least where we wouldn't stand out like a sore thumb and be viewed with suspicion for having made that choice. Also, I wont be able to find a btl before we have to leave this flat, do you think I should rent up there whilst looking or stay where my supportive friends are until I have found a place (I'd need a place that accepts dss, so hard to find)? My current state of mind is fragile and I am so afraid of being completely isolated if I make the move now, on the other hand, it would obviously make it easier to look at properties. What would you do?

Sorry, so many questions, but I sorely need guidance and I am so grateful flowers for any helpful advice any of you might be able to give.

TheSilveryPussycat Mon 14-Sep-15 23:52:41

Durham City is lovely but out of price range - but Durham is surrounded by former mining villages where prices are reasonable, and the bus services are fairly good. And Durham itself is on the East Coast line, so Newcastle is an easy hop, and London a 3 hour journey.

Some places have a rep for being a bit dodgy, as with anywhere it's not possible to give a list of them really. How about doing a Rightmove search with a radius of 10 miles, and see what you fancy?

Weardale is lovely too, but is quite remote. What kind of place do you want to live?

DaysofSummer Tue 15-Sep-15 12:00:49

What about areas like South Shields, Whitburn ( just south of South Shields) and Seaburn ( just south of Whitburn, but just crossing over the border from South Tyneside to Sunderland ).
You could definitely buy a property in those areas for less than £120,000. Whitburn, Seaburn and parts of South Shields are very near the sea too, if you like to be beside the seaside.
I don,t know anything about home schooling but there are some good schools in those areas (Whitburn Academy and Harton Technology College ).

Sunnyshores Tue 15-Sep-15 16:16:05

Zelda flowers this must be a very difficult time. Are you sure you have to deal with the break up, moving out of your home and relocating to a new area all in one go?

There are surprisingly still alot of areas where £120k would buy a house. Do you want to be as close to London as possible? Near a big city for the life you're used to? Do you drive? Coast, country? auction properties that need work?

ZeldaPetals Tue 15-Sep-15 16:28:26

Thanks TheSilverPussycat, I have indeed spotted a few places around Durham: Chester-le-Street, Stanley, Sacriston, Bearpark and Sherburn amongst them. Are you familiar with these and their relative merits?

I don't yet drive, so decent public transport will be essential. I'll need a two-bed with powered workshop, or a three-bed, and a garden; thanks to working from home I can be more flexible than most about location. Fibre broadband and weekly shopping delivery are important. The no.1 requirement is a generally open and friendly community that is open to newcomers getting involved in village/town life and won't en masse reject people who make a little bit of an unconventional choice in life.

Thank you DaysofSummer, I will definitely check those out. Growing up by the sea, i have felt the void of a proper body of water in London, so definitely not a bad idea. There seem to be quite a few properties in Sunderland itself, do you know if that's a good and safe area?

It's not so much about home education as just wanting to make sure I find a friendly community; though it would be lovely if there were other HE families around, I expect that question would be best put elsewhere.

I am going up on a 3 day recce next week, but will be travelling on public transport and want to avoid wasting my time going to the ' wrong sort ' of places. I appreciate any suggestions you can make. Many thanks!

mrssmith79 Tue 15-Sep-15 16:50:19

Sunderland has great transport links. It's a mixed bag re which are good / not so great areas though. I'm a community nurse so have a pretty good grasp of the area (not to mention I'm a born and bred mackem), feel free to give me a shout if you need any advice.

ouryve Tue 15-Sep-15 17:03:55

I think you're more likely to find something that suits and in a decent area outside of Sunderland, rather than more centrally. Seaham might be worth a look (good and less good bits, like anywhere, of course) and parts of Houghton le Spring and the surrounding area are lovely with excellent transport links from the centre to Sunderland, Washington and Gateshead/Newcastle..

ZeldaPetals Tue 15-Sep-15 17:29:11

Sunnyshores, thank you for your kind words! I have been agonising over it, but after looking at closer areas that have some properties within the budget - Essex, Norfolk, and all the way up to Manchester and Sheffield - I haven't managed to find anything in an area where I would feel safe living alone with my son. I really am a scaredycat and even though that is bound to improve, it will probably be easier in a nice home and a nice neighbourhood. I have had alerts from Rightmove for all of England for weeks, but most affordable places are in a sorry state or in crime ridden or remote areas. I don't yet drive (must learn though), so public transport and proximity to shops is essential. I don't mind leaving London, but would have loved being able to stay near my and my son's friends in North Surrey area. Unfortunately, auctions or doer-uppers are not what my acquaintance would be willing to look at; preferably it should be ready to move into and only require work I can do or pay to have done myself.

My choices, as I see it are to find a rental near friends - not easy on housing benefit, and the council's housing officer told me that I'd have to be an adult now, only private renting available and since I can't afford that I'll need to move away from London, so no help there - and keep trawling the country to see how close to here I can get a property, or decide on an area and move there now so I am in situ for viewings. The other consideration is that there is always a possibility this buy-to-let idea falls through, in which case I would like to live in an area where I stand a chance of paying my own way, that is never going to be possible for me in the South East.

But, as you probably know, whilst you're in the middle of the mess, you're not necessarily in the best position to see things clearly. That is why I am grateful for any advice or suggestions - a chance to see it from the perspective of people on the outside.

ZeldaPetals Tue 15-Sep-15 17:51:56

Thank you mrssmith79, I might take you up on that kind offer. By the by, I had to look up the word "mackem" and found this definition on the urban dictionary site: n. A demi-god worshipped by ancient civilisations as the epitome of wit and sexual prowess. Romans and Vikings colonised the area in the hope of developing a race of supermen to help them in their ambitions. The word is based on a blend of Roman and Norse, and means "astonishingly well-endowed, funny and attractive angel on a temporary visit from Valhalla."

ouryve, thank you for that; there are quite a few properties in Houghton-le-Spring and Washington, would you choose one over the other?

mrssmith79 Tue 15-Sep-15 18:00:35

Haha grin. Best not show that to my dh, he'll be having it added to his CV!

Lagoonablue Tue 15-Sep-15 18:04:13

I'm a Geordie. That definition of Makem isn't one I am familiar with!

PennyHasNoSurname Tue 15-Sep-15 18:12:18

Another northerner here, I like Low Fell and Whickham. Both a short drive to the coast and right on the A1 for transport links.

ZeldaPetals Tue 15-Sep-15 18:39:55

PennyHasNoSurname, thank you for those. What is it you like about them? You know, just generally.

Lagoonablue, oh dear, I just looked up geordie on urban dictionary and have a worrying feeling not every definition might be true... shock

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 15-Sep-15 18:43:54

<ahem> as I heard it, it pertains to the Newcastle-Geordie rivalry, and may also be connected with Nissan factory, which brought jobs for Sunderland. Those in Sunderland "makem" = make 'em, those from Newcastle "takem"

<awaits flaming>

btw I am originally from the South, most of my family live near Croydon, and it's about 4.5 hours door to door, mostly by train.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 15-Sep-15 18:45:22

What am I writing? Of course I meant to write Newcastle-Sunderland rivalry.
<hides under rock>

JeffsanArsehole Tue 15-Sep-15 18:47:00

What about your work? Is it that you sell something and need a workshop to make it?

Would moving mean you lose your target market?

PennyHasNoSurname Tue 15-Sep-15 18:51:01

What I like about Low Fell and Whickham:- good access to A1, nice houses with gardens, good schools, nice little high street in both of them with good pubs, coffee shops (indie), little shops, they are Gateshead more desired areas.

ouryve Tue 15-Sep-15 19:25:56

Yes - Low Fell is lovely - used to live there. Great buses and lots of shops within walking distance, too. Might be hard to get 3 bedrooms and a workshop there, though.

Washington's like most of the North (and much of London!) in that it has good and less good areas butting up to each other. Washington is a bit soulless as a whole, though, whereas Houghton-le-Spring is a proper little town.

TurnOffTheTv Tue 15-Sep-15 19:32:34

I just had a quick look at right move and there are masses of three bedroom houses in that price range near Durham city centre. Belmont/Carville/gilesgate/Fram/Pity me, which all have buses running every ten minutes or so into town.

TurnOffTheTv Tue 15-Sep-15 19:36:26

ouryve Tue 15-Sep-15 21:09:48

Bits of Gilesgate are most definitely cheap for a reason, but yep, houses out of catchment for Durham Johnston tend to be a lot cheaper than in the west of the city. All secondary schools in Durham are good, anyhow, in their own differing ways, if OP needs to quit HE for any reason.

TurnOffTheTv Tue 15-Sep-15 21:23:50

I'm in Newton Hall, and there doesn't seem to be any two bed houses. More over on Belmont side.

ZeldaPetals Tue 15-Sep-15 21:29:17

SilveryPussycat, have you been up there long? How did you find the transition and was it easy to meet people? Picking your brain, sorry.

JeffsanArsehole (intriguing and inspiring name!), I do craftbased work, lots of repairs and some bespoke. I'm planning to start producing more stock and set up a proper online shop as well as trying to cultivate relationships with local retailers. Perhaps there's even a craft community that I could join. I'll partly base my target market on whatever is suitable for the area I'm in.

ouryve, thank you, I'll definitely have a look at both of those and leave Washington out. By the way, I'll only need 3 rooms if there's no workshop, so I can make one room into my workshop, otherwise 2 rooms will suffice, so I might perhaps be able to find something.

TurnOffTheTv, thank you very much for the link, nice house and definitely worth having a closer look at. The areas of Durham you mention, would you say they are all worth considering? I've seen a fair few places in Pity Me, I wonder if it's because people are fleeing? Perhaps the question should be: where should I definitely not look?

TurnOffTheTv Tue 15-Sep-15 21:39:36

Ok places I like,
Newton hall
Framwellgate moor
Pity me
Gilesgate moor (not sherburn road)
Langley moor
Nevilles cross
Not keen on,
Esh winning

CurlyhairedAssassin Tue 15-Sep-15 21:48:33

Um, I don't want to piss on your chips or anything, but how reliable is your friend? Have you thought about what would happen if in a few years your friend decided she wanted/needed to access some capital and sell up? Would you be able to find somewhere else? Also, seems like a good deal from her point of view if cost of housing just keeps going up and up? You'd effectively be buying her house for her, she has the added benefit of having a permanent reliable tenant AND from the sound of it you will be paying for repairs? Who is going to pay for essential things like boiler repairs and maintenance? If it's her, is she going to have the spare cash to get it sorted immediately? If it's you, would YOU have the money, if you're on benefits? One of the advantages of renting is that you DONT have to pay for repairs yourself; doesn't sound like you would have this advantage?

All I'm saying is that you really both need to have a long discussion about who pays for what before you jump into this. It could work well if it's all planned for thoroughly, but it could all go horribly wrong and gI've you stress you don't need.

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